Pollard is finally free from his discriminatory experience

Pollard is not a hero in the conventional sense.

PRIME MINISTER Benjamin Netanyahu meets Jonathan Pollard at Ben-Gurion Airport early Wednesday morning.  (photo credit: PRIME MINISTER'S OFFICE)
PRIME MINISTER Benjamin Netanyahu meets Jonathan Pollard at Ben-Gurion Airport early Wednesday morning.
Many people have been waiting for this moment for many years. Jonathan Pollard – the Jewish American who was sentenced too harshly because he is Jewish – has arrived in Israel.
is not a hero in the conventional sense. He did not knowingly take on a task that was a noble one. Rather, he knowingly violated American law, and for that, he deserved to be punished – but not as severely as he was punished.
I have previously written about the Pollard case, including a piece in The Jerusalem Post (in 2007) beseeching then-president Shimon Peres to make the release of Pollard one of his highest priorities as president.
Pollard’s inner circle of advisers has not always agreed with my suggestions. In October 2006, I published a piece in The Jerusalem Post recommending that the Pollard camp change its strategy of advocating for a presidential pardon and instead advocate for Pollard’s being released from prison to house arrest.
My proposal of house arrest was based on the concern that a presidential pardon was not likely to be in the cards for quite some time. Almost immediately after that piece was published, Mrs. Esther Pollard publicly rejected the idea of house arrest.
The idea of house arrest for Pollard became a nonstarter.
What happened after October 2006? Pollard spent more than another nine years in prison, and starting November 2015, he went into (yes, you guessed it) house arrest.
So, my advice from 2006 did not fare too badly from a pragmatic perspective.
But as we approach the hour in which Pollard will stand before a microphone with the entire Jewish world listening, I hope that he will heed my advice – in particular because lots of people listening will not be supporters of Israel. How do we know that? One need not look further than a recent tweet by a former CIA officer Marc Polymeropoulos (as reported in the website military.com): “It’s going to be pretty damn annoying if this traitor gets a celebratory hero’s welcome in Tel Aviv. If Israelis are smart, this is done very low key.”
Israel is a free country. Little here is done “low key.” Therefore, it needs to be done smart. Here are my suggestions to Pollard:
Do not sound bitter: Yes, you have every right to be bitter. Multiple American presidents had the opportunity to demonstrate that justice is blind and that American Jews are not held to a double standard. Those presidents failed to do so, which is a grounds for bitterness.
And, of course, there are the Israeli leaders from the mid-1980s (mostly deceased) who never should have recruited you. Add to that former Israeli PM Ehud Barak, who preferred to ask former US president Bill Clinton to pardon Marc Rich instead of you, and you have plenty of people about whom to be bitter.
But sounding bitter will do you no good – especially when the world is listening.
State expressly that the United States is a great country and that it is Israel’s best friend: Yes, it is the country that unjustifiably kept you in prison for far too long. But it is also the home to the largest diaspora community in the world, and it is the country that has given Jews unprecedented freedoms and opportunity.
Why is it important for you to make such a public statement? There are at least two reasons. First, Jews employed by the US government in sensitive positions will be listening for some statement to point to that indicates that your case was the exception, not the rule. There is no good reason to deny them that statement.
A second reason: for better or for worse, tens of thousands of young Israelis (contemporaries of my children, and younger) grew up learning that the US unjustly held you prisoner. The education that those young people received regarding your case has been largely one-sided. Many of them find it difficult to believe that you did anything wrong.
More than 20 years ago, you gave an interview in which you expressed remorse for having spied against the US. Many people expressed skepticism of your statement of remorse. There is a good way to silence those people – whether they are supporters of Israel or not: tell your supporters, in your first public address in Israel, that the US is a great country and Israel’s best friend.
You might not enjoy saying it – but as someone who has been living in Israel for almost three decades, I know that the people here who are likely to give you a hero’s welcome need to hear it.
Welcome home.
Eric Sherby is an American-Israeli lawyer based in Ramat Gan.  He serves as Vice Chair of the American Bar Association's International Litigation Committee and has held other senior positions with the ABA.