Feb 28, 2007

Haredi support for Pollard

When Jonathan Pollard was first arrested and for a number of years after, the opinions on him in the Jewish community were very divisive. Many were coming out in support of Pollard, rallying for him and signing petitions.

Many were against petitioning the US government to release Pollard. After all, they would say, he took the risk when he committed the crime, honorable as it may have been in our eyes, and was caught. The risk entails a certain price, which he now has to pay. We cannot ruffle any feathers by asking for him to be released. The government is so against releasing him, he must have done something very bad, even worse than what they are saying, etc.

Originally I was a member of the second group. I admit it. I did not want to hear about Pollard. he did the crime, he should pay the time (because he was caught). I remember someone from YU very involved in organizing groups to petition for Pollard came to our shul in Chicago and spoke on his behalf to gain support (and I guess funds). I do not know how well he was received by other people, but I know that I felt he was unconvincing and I did not want to hear any more about it.

Many years went by and I got older. Jonathan Pollard has still been in jail all this time. Over time I have changed my opinion on the Pollard affair.

The way I look at it now is that Pollard has served more than the fair amount of time.

I have read a lot of the info on it - from his side how he got shafted by the judicial system and government after making an agreement, and by the government opinion about how what he did was so reprehensible and definitely the most damaging spy situation in American history. It is clear that we do not know everything about the case and much of it is still kept under wraps.

Aside from the details of the case, what information he stole, what he gave over, how sensitive it was, etc., which we cannot know, the fact is he has sat in jail longer than any other spy in American history who spied for a friendly country. By leaps and bounds. And he has sat much of that time under terrible conditions, such as solitary confinement. The most amount of time any other spy spying for a friendly country sat was something like 7 years, according to a chart I recently saw. I am looking for a list of spies in general to see how long spies for hostile countries sat in jail and see where Pollard is in that list, but have not yet found it.

The point is, he has more than served his fair amount of time. It is time to release Pollard.

Rabbis Elyashiv and Steinman, the heads of the Haredi camp in Israel and of the gedolim, in an unusual move for them (as they generally do not get involved in political issues that have international ramifications) sent a letter this week to US President George Bush honorably requesting he pardon Pollard, after having served already more than 20 years in jail.

This comes on the heals of unusual support from the camps of Agudas Yisrael of America who also recently came out in support of releasing Jonathan Pollard.

Kol Hakavod to them all for coming forward and speaking on behalf of a Jew in trouble who has paid his dues.

May the increasing unity in the Jewish comunity on this issue be pleasantly received in the eyes of Hashem and be a catalyst to gain the release of Jonathan Pollard, Yehonatan ben Malka.


  1. what about the MIAs???

  2. I hope the efforts of Rav Elyashiv Shlit"a and Rav Shteinman Shlit"a pay off, in addition to the phone call campaign being done by organizations in the states.

    Let's hope the president cares enough to listen.

  3. I hope he gets out soon, all the prayers should help.

  4. I think that like you, I originally started off in the "he did the crime, he should do his time" camp.

    But I agree - enough is enough. And that was before I saw your stats about the prison sentences for other spies!

  5. I was also in the second camp at one point, but after learning more about the situation did a total 180.

    Though we don't know the details, I'm pretty sure it didn't lead to anything bad. I think I read somewhere that the information was stuff that, as an ally, the US was supposed to have told Israel but witheld it, and it could have been very important to Israel's defense.

    20 years is definitely too long. If they want to keep him under supervision still, fine, but to stay in prison... oish.

    I wonder why the rabbanim didn't write a more powerful letter. From what I hear, all it said was "Please release Pollard, Mr. President." Doesn't sound very strong to me.

  6. http://www.jonathanpollard.org/facts.htm

    The first two items especially. This is from the official Pollard website.


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