Allan Brownfeld has written an excellent piece concerning the likely parole of Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard in November. As Brownfeld notes, while there may be humanitarian grounds justifying the parole, this is not why Pollard’s supporters began clamoring for his release shortly after his conviction. Contrary to what Pollard’s supporters claim, he is not a “Jewish political prisoner,” nor did his conviction represent a “new Dreyfus affair.” Pollard was sentenced to life imprisonment because he “sold some 360 cubic feet of classified documents to Israel,” and some of that mountain of information almost certainly ended up in the hands of the Soviet Union. Pollard was the victim not of anti-Semitism, “but of the Zionist philosophy he learned as a boy, which told him that Israel was his real ‘homeland’ and that he was in ‘exile’ in America.” To date, Israel has returned only a handful of the documents Pollard stole at its behest, and Israeli politicians have turned Pollard into a folk hero, and they have repeatedly sought his release.
The only reason Pollard has not been released before now is that numerous former Secretaries of Defense and Directors of Central Intelligence and Naval Intelligence have publicly opposed his release. Unfortunately, the sometimes unstated belief behind such opposition, that American and Israeli interests do not always coincide and, when they do not, American interests should take precedence, would be an alien one to many now in the public eye.
Thomas Piatak is a contributing editor to Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture. He writes from Cleveland, Ohio.