Understanding Ehud Olmert's disdain for Jonathan Pollard – opinion

It would seem the liberal intelligentsia have decided it was time to show their face once more and attack the release of Jonathan Pollard

JONATHAN POLLARD arrives at US District Court in New York City in 2016. (photo credit: EDUARDO MUNOZ / REUTERS)
JONATHAN POLLARD arrives at US District Court in New York City in 2016.
(photo credit: EDUARDO MUNOZ / REUTERS)
Sometime March 1990, Efraim Zuroff, the Jerusalem representative of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, interviewed with The Jerusalem Post, expressing how he was extremely unhappy with “the stereotypical image of the settler with his bushy beard, his gun in his belt and his eternally pregnant wife.” At the time, my grandfather, Dr. Irving Moskowitz, begged the obvious question. Why is it that Zuroff and others in the Israeli elitist liberal intelligentsia share such a “sense of acute embarrassment, even shame, at the thought that the outside world might see [certain] Jews as representatives of Israel?
Indeed, it would seem the liberal intelligentsia have decided it was time to show their face once more and attack the release of Jonathan Pollard, reminding us that some of our worst enemies come from within our midst. One such man is former prime minister Ehud Olmert.
Olmert has chosen to attack Pollard, that famed spy for Israel who, after being betrayed multiple times by Israel, sat in prison for decades for giving Israel information that it was supposed to receive from the US in the first place. Despite the betrayal, not once did Pollard lose hope that one day he would merit to make aliyah to the land that he sacrificed so much for and live with his past sins in some semblance of peace.
It would seem, however, that Olmert feels that Pollard deserves no such comfort. Pollard was “not a Zionist volunteer who came and sacrificed his life. [Rather], he was an American [i.e., not Israeli] who loved Israel and worked for a lot of money, spying for Israel.” Therefore, in Olmert’s opinion, Pollard should stay in the US and not be welcomed home.
For starters, such conjecture is dangerous and undermines the entire premise of the “Right of Return,” the Israeli law that gives Jews, including Pollard, the right to immigrate to and settle in the Holy Land. Pollard is already an Israeli citizen and has every right to settle there in due time. That Olmert doesn’t seem to acknowledge this is beyond bizarre, as Pollard was made a citizen of Israel by none other than Israeli prime minister Shimon Peres in 1995. Olmert was mayor of Jerusalem at the time, a well-known hawk on the issue, reportedly participating in the protest calling for Pollard’s return home during the Clinton years. Moreover, if Pollard had damaged US-Israel relations so much, why did Olmert include former minister Rafi Eitan in his cabinet? Clearly, as US defense secretary Caspar Weinberger admitted shortly before his death, the Pollard case had been only a minor matter made to seem more important than it actually was.
With that said, the notion that Pollard has been just some gun for hire is laughable at best. The fact that the sentencing judge, who was clearly not sympathetic, declined to fine Pollard, was in its own way signaling that the judge had accepted Pollard’s ideological motives, or at least understood them.
Furthermore, Pollard was recruited by an up-and-coming Israel Air Force officer, Col. Aviem Sella, who had the entire operation approved by the highest officials in the Israeli intel brass, including former minister Rafi Eitan. The operation, which seems to have been a sloppy and unorganized venture, led to Pollard’s ultimate betrayal and incarceration. As stated correctly by Yossi Melman in Haaretz, “[Pollard] paid a sufficiently high price for his love for Israel, his adventurousness, his willingness to receive money for it – and he also paid a sufficiently high price for Israel’s betrayal of him.”
But even more so, is outrageous for Olmert even suggesting that Pollard was no Zionists because he was not a volunteer. By doing so Olmert is tearing down the entire Zionist enterprise in one fell swoop.
If we are going to argue whether someone who gets paid for his services to Israel can no longer be considered a Zionist, then I think we have a much bigger problem. For instance, how do we define early Hagana fighters? Or better yet, can we define young IDF recruits as Zionists? After all, they are not volunteers, as their service is compulsory, and at the end of the day, they do get paid, albeit not much, but clearly, volunteers they are not.
Pollard was no different, starting out as a volunteer himself, he eventually received some sort of compensation, albeit only after having received an Israeli passport (in the name of Danny Cohen). As explained to me by an official source with knowledge of the matter, this was due to Pollard having been formally inducted as a bona fide Israeli agent. In fact, the money was paid as a salary with taxes and pension deducted! Yep, some mercenary!
All of this however, does not explain Ehud Olmert’s mindset. How can the man who opened the Western Wall tunnels with my grandfather all those years ago express such a ghetto mentality, a mindset that is fearful of upsetting the US? It is Israel that should be upset at the US. They withheld intelligence that they were supposed to share under the terms of the US-Israel intelligence sharing agreement – data that saved Israel lives!
The answer lies in the sick mindset of the man who defrauded and stole from the Israeli public, a mindset where the ceaseless barrage of international criticism aimed at Israel has made some Jews, like Olmert, excessively sensitive to world opinion. But being ashamed of the Jews who express their Jewishness by sacrificing for the Jewish homeland is what breeds such blatant nonsense, and while I hope Olmert was not always a gun for hire himself, he clearly has become one.
Yet what can we expect from the same person, who at age 21, challenged the great Menachem Begin for the party’s leadership position (at the time, it was Gachal, now Likud) and called for Begin’s resignation?
One must have some self-respect before it is possible to win the respect of others. Self-respect begins with pride in who we are as a people, where we come from and where we are going. Ehud Olmert lacks all those attributes and the results are self-explanatory
The writer is a rabbi, entrepreneur and venture capitalist in the critical material and emerging technology space, as well as president of the Chovevei Tzion Movement, a grassroots and advocacy organization promoting Americanism and Zionism. He also serves as the special assistant to Cherna Moskowitz and is a delegate to the WZO on behalf of Eretz Hakodesh.