Jun 22, 2010

Shalom Rubashkin and Jonathan Pollard

It is interesting to compare the sentencing of Shalom Rubashkin received for his crimes of bank fraud with that of Jonathan Pollard, and people's reaction to them. Rubashkin's sentence was a harsh one, and it seems to be harsher than what is normally given out for such crimes or similar crimes. People are rallying around his cause, people are expressing shock and horror at the harsh sentencing....

Very similarly, Jonathan Pollard is another fellow Jew who is sitting for a very long time in jail, far longer than anybody who committed similar or even worse crimes of spying for enemy countries rather than for friendly countries, yet we don't seem all that interested in rallying around his cause.

I thought of Pollard today when reading a brief review of Rubashkin's sentence and then seeing some of the reactions. While I am sure most, if not all, of the people who express shock at Rubashkin's sentence would also be happy if Pollard was released, few of them actually have rallied around the "free Pollard" campaign and have worked for his release. Where are the viral videos being sent around on behalf of Pollard as they were for Rubashkin? Where are the email campaigns?

And I see one major difference between the crimes. Rubashkin's crime was for his personal profit. Pollards crime was for the Jewish nation and the State of Israel.

A worrying development in the Pollard situation is Ambassador Michael Oren seemingly backtracking on the Jonathan Pollard issue. Today Oren mentioned that Pollard was working for a rogue spy operation, and had nothing to do with the Israeli government. It is bad enough that until now the Israeli government has disassociated itself from Pollard, mostly by its silence on the issue and by lack of any attempts to help get him released (besides some attempts by Netanyahu in the past, most notably at the Wye Plantation), but now to go back to the original denial of any connection? That is nasty.


  1. As with most issues of national security, I'm sure there's a lot more to the Pollard case than meets the eye.

    I heard from someone in the know (OK, someone who heard from his brother, who himself is in the know, but I know the brother too) that Pollard still presents a danger to the US.

    That doesn't mean that we shouldn't be pushing for his release, but if the Israeli government backs off, it doesn't automatically make them resha'im.

  2. one article i read (maybe the ny times, don't remember) was that Rubashkin got a harder sentence than the CEOs of Enron and TYCO, which put their employees into significant financial ruin and stole MORE money that Rubashkin, which did not happen by Rubashkin. If that is true, there is some blatant negligence here.

  3. 2 differences between Pollard's situation and Rubashkin's:

    - Pollard's crime is zionistic, so there are segments of the population who don't give a hoot about him b/c of that. These same ppl will cry and scream for the "innocent" bochrim in Japan, but don't say too much about Gilad Shalit.

    -Pollard has been rotting in jail for ages now. If Rubashkin is still in jail 10-15 years from now, I doubt there will still be protests for him.

  4. Thank you for highlighting the connection between Pollard and Rubashkin and raising awareness for two important cases of Pidyon Shvuyim.

    I believe recent developments in both cases are linked to Mordechai Eliyahu zt"l's view that Pollard's release means the release of all shvuyim:

    As recounted by Esther Pollard: "Over time, the Rav shared with us and with a few others who were very close to him that Jonathan’s release is the key to the redemption of all of Am Yisrael. He taught us how Jonathan’s release is also the key to the release of all of Israel’s captives and MIAs. Once Jonathan is out, all the captives are all out! Once they are all out, we are all in Geula! Perhaps most significant of all, the Rav always referred to Jonathan as the 'Yosef HaTzadik shel doreinu' (The Yosef Hatzadik of our generation.)

    "...'Every Jew has to wake up; to open his/her own eyes; to realize for themselves that we have the Yosef HaTzadik of our generation
    languishing in a pit in America. Every Jew has to feel the pain of his suffering and to decide on his/her own to participate in this mitzvah -- to do whatever he or she can to redeem Jonathan, and in so doing, effectively redeem themselves. We have to wake up Am Yisrael to this mitzvah!'"


  5. I do not think your comments are fair. There is no doubt in my mind that every single person rallying behind Sholom Rubashkin - Orthodox Jews - feel just as strong that Jonathan Pollard should be released. The obvious and simple reason why Rubashkin is getting this support right now is b/c it is current. I guarantee that when there was a campaign last year to Bush to commute Pollard, most of these supporters, like myself, did what we can (writing...) to help him. Rabbi Pesach Lerner, quoted in today's NY Times piece on this story - http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/22/us/22iowa.html - led that campaign.

  6. I agree with the 2 anonymouses. There was no email or viral videos in the 1980s.

    Nevertheless, the comparisons in their overexcessive sentences are definitely there. Barring any succesful appeal for Shalom Mordechai Rubashkin, we will need to include both in requests for clemency from the President from now on.

  7. i think another difference is that while pollard was arrested for spying, rubashkin was arrested for illegal buisiness practices.
    the fact that pollard as a spy was treated harsher because he is Jewish, although troublesome to everybody else, it is not something that can have a direct connection to his own life.
    Rubashkin, on the other hand is a case that can happen to almost anybody i the buisiness world. there are so many nuances and details in the buisiness world that people have become accustomed to doing as part of the system - right or wrong.
    the rubashkin precedent of a jew being singled out and vilified for falsifying informatiion on a bank loan application and having to sit 27 years, despite the fact that the bank wasn't cring foul, has very scary ramifications for everybody in buisiness.
    when they want to get you they usually can. i know somebody who was connected to a multi-million dolar scam, although he himself was not involved. they had nothing on him so they looked and looked and finally found a misdemeanor charge that is generally ignored - also along the lines of changing information on some application. the court sentenced him to six months jail even as they acknowledged that no one lost any money from the falsification. that may be a proper jail time but my point is that anybody in buisiness can be cought and therefore everyone is concerned

  8. It's not as you think. The prosecution "created the case" and then did all they could to make it happen. They caused the bankruptcy and the so-called bank bill. The bank has not claimed that he was in default, as they knew he always paid them in full and on-time. This was purely antisemitism. To destroy a person with such a vengence and premeditated.

  9. The following is not the popular view, but since you mentioned...

    Polard was paid large lumps of money for his service. It was not only out of loyalty to Israel.

    IMHO the reason so many are fighting for Rubashkin's cause is not only b/c he's a fellow Jew but also due to his known acts chessed. Many benefited from his business. He was not a person to think only of personal gain.

    Every story has two sides...


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