Will the US finally show some mercy towards Jonathan Pollard?

Morris Pollard

Morris Pollard z"l who passed away at 95

Morris Pollard z”l, Jonathan Pollard’s father, passed away over the weekend.  Pleas from Jonathan’s supporters to allow him to visit his dying father went unheeded. Now we wait and see if he will be allowed to participate in the funeral at the very least.

The US’s treatment of Jonathan Pollard has been shameful from the very beginning. His plea bargain was ignored by the court after it had been agreed that he would confess to the crime of spying in exchange for a lesser sentence.  It is generally accepted that Caspar Weinberger had a major role in convincing the court to overturn the plea bargain and apply the harshest sentence, probably due to his own antisemitism.

Jonathan Pollard

Jonathan Pollard

Based on a recent article by Leo Rennert which critique’s coverage of the Pollard case in The New York Times, “ it is now clear that Pollard, in failing health, has been the victim of a CIA cover-up of a massive intelligence failure, with the agency blaming Pollard for the damage caused by a real “mole” inside the CIA who passed to Moscow the names of more than a dozen U.S. informants in the Soviet Union — namely Aldrich Ames, the head of CIA’s Soviet-Eastern Europe division, who fingered Pollard to keep the CIA from discovering his own treachery.. The CIA did not discover Ames’ role until well after Pollard was behind bars and it still isn’t willing to acknowledge its mistake in blaming Pollard for Ames’s crimes.”

Although he was convicted of spying for an ally – a friendly country – Pollard was given the maximum sentence with no chance of parole, completely out of proportion compared to spies for enemy countries who did great and proven damage to the United States.  He has been treated cruelly by being placed in solitary confinement in a maximum security prison, and has never been allowed out on furlough or even to visit his dying mother or go to her funeral.

Israel’s own governments over the years share much of the blame for not intervening with the US Administrations to commute Jonathan’s sentence or ease his conditions.  Even when America was caught spying on Israel, Israeli leaders did not use this golden opportunity to swap them for Pollard.  Whether this was because of fear of the US, embarrassment at having their spy caught, or simple hard-heartedness is difficult to know and is anyway irrelevant.

As Sima Kadmon points out in Ynet,

The Committee [to bring Jonathan Pollard home] is trying to tread carefully – if they say what they really feel, that the president and prime minister of Israel are not doing anything, then this might provide ammunition for the American president. After all, if even the Israelis are not pressing for compassionate leave for Pollard, then why should he take action?

In any case, it is clear that the ball is in Obama’s court – while Pollard, at this point, has simply been abandoned.

Here in Israel, a prisoner who assassinated the prime minister was allowed to father a child while in prison, whereas in the United States, Pollard was not even allowed to see his mother when she was dying.

At least, let him say goodbye to his father.

Sadly, it is too late for that. At least let him bury his father.

You can read all about Jonathan Pollard, his court case, conviction and the efforts of his supporters, at his website.

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