Home  Principles & Statements  Positions of the ACJ  Articles  DonationsAbout Us  Contact Us  Links                                         

The "Odd Logic" of Jewish Groups Urging Pollard’s Release Is Called "Troubling"

Allan Brownfeld, Editor
Special Interest Report
January-February 1999

The "odd logic" of those American Jewish groups calling for the release of convicted spy Jonathan Pollard, who was sentenced to life in prison for passing classified documents to Israel, was described in The New York Times (Jan. 16, 1999) by Peter Beinart, a senior editor of The New Republic.  

Mr. Beinart writes: "Only in an era virtually devoid of insinuation of dual loyalty would Jewish leaders risk lobbying publicly on behalf of a Jew who spied for Israel against the United States. So it is perhaps heartening that groups like the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, B’nai B’rith and the Union of American Hebrew Congregations feel free to advocate Mr. Pollard’s release; but it is nonetheless baffling that they should choose to do so."  

He points out that, "The real crux of Pollard’s defense is not that his crime was minor because of the number and type of stolen documents, but that it was minor because of the country for which he stole them: Israel. And this is what makes the Jewish groups’ argument so problematic. The U.S. and Israel have been allies since Israel gained independence, and the longstanding alliance may have lulled some into the belief that the two countries’ interests are the same. But they are not; no two countries’ are."  

With regard to the question of "dual loyalty," Beinart states that, "The American Jewish community’s traditional response to the ugly charge of dual loyalty has been: there is none, we owe our sole allegiance to the United States. In arguing that spying for Israel is a lesser offense than spying for other countries, Jewish groups appear now to have strayed from that position. To apologize for an American official’s decision to put another country’s interests ahead of his own can be seen as essentially defending dual loyalty."  

Beinart concludes: "Mr. Pollard himself has no problem with dual loyalty. In a letter from prison, he even had the gall to compare his work for Israel (for which he was paid) to efforts to assist European Jews during World War II. It is not surprising that he should try to rally American Jews to his aid — criminals often play the ethnic card when it is all they have left. It is precisely at such moments that responsible community leaders must make it clear that they provide no safe haven for the indefensible."  

In a New Yorker (Jan. 18, 1999) article entitled "The Traitor: The Case Against Jonathan Pollard," Seymour Hersh reports that, "...it is widely believed that Pollard was not the only one in the American government spying for Israel. During his year and a half of spying, his Israeli handlers requested specific documents, which were identified only by top-secret control numbers. After much internal assessment, the government’s intelligence experts concluded that it was ‘highly unlikely,’ in the words of a Justice Department official, that any of the other American spies of the era would have had access to the specific control numbers. ‘There is only one conclusion,’ the expert told me. The Israelis ‘got the numbers from somebody else in the U.S. government.’"  

Hersh writes that, "Esther Pollard and her husband’s other supporters are mistaken in believing that Jonathan Pollard caused no significant damage to American national security. Furthermore, according to senior members of the American intelligence community, Pollard’s argument that he acted solely from idealistic motives and provided Israel only with the documents which were needed for its defense was a sham designed to mask the fact that he was driven to spy by his chronic need for money...The documents that Pollard turned over to Israel were not focussed exclusively on the product of American intelligence — its analytic reports and estimates. They also revealed how America was able to learn what it did — a most sensitive area of intelligence defined as ‘sources and methods.’ Pollard gave the Israelis vast amounts of data dealing with specific American intelligence systems and how they worked..."

< return to article list
© 2010 The American Council For Judaism.