No, hes just another traitor

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Apparently a majority of American Jews hope that President Clinton will release Jonathan Pollard.

Though it's hard to be a minority within a minority, I hope and pray that Clinton does not let him go. I feel this way for a lot of reasons, reasons that are too little aired in the Jewish community for the Pollard issue has somehow taken on a meaning and significance it in no way deserves.

Indeed, that Pollard is a Jewish issue at all says things not very good about us. The fact that, over the last couple of years, more and more Jews and Jewish organizations have called for Pollard's release says, I think, how much we have lost not only our moral compass but our sense of security, self-respect and self-assurance.

For the bottom line in all this is whether you believe it is anti-Semitism that put Jonathan Pollard behind bars and whether it is anti-Semitism that has kept him and is keeping him in jail.

If you answer is yes, then this is a Jewish issue.

If your answer is no, as mine is, then no way is this a Jewish issue. It should have no place on the Jewish agenda.

The emphasis on Pollard in the Jewish community does nothing but reflect poorly on us. It says that we can't trust anyone, that the powers in this country are not on our side, that we are still outsiders, still being persecuted for who we are, that nothing has changed for the Jews.

Oh sure, it may not be that intense, but that's what's underlying all this. There is no other explanation for that thinking.

Jonathan Pollard is a traitor. Period. What he did was very wrong and very ugly. Period.

Those are the hard truths. But they are truths. And the problem is we don't want to face them, don't want to admit that one of our own could commit such an ungrateful, dastardly deed. Don't want to admit that our beloved state of Israel could be so stupid, so venal.

And so we blame others, see anti-Semitism where it does not exist.

Instead, we want to cling to the old notion that everybody hates us, that we are always getting unfairly hit for what we have not done. We are, understandably, more comfortable feeling hated.

We are less familiar with feeling powerful and accepted, less able to recognize how extraordinary our place in this society is.

When Clinton last officially turned down Pollard's request for clemency in July 1996, his spokesman explained the decision. Clinton's decision, he said, was based on "the enormity of Pollard's offenses, his lack of remorse, the damage done to our national security, the need for greater deterrence and the continuing threat to national security."

Somehow, too many of us don't want to believe that. We want to believe something else is at work here, Jew hatred being that something else.

So how do the Pollard supporters explain the behavior of one William Jefferson Clinton? Clinton is a good friend of the Jews, the best friend Israel has ever had in the White House.

So why does Clinton say no? Because, I believe, Clinton knows more than we know. He knows just how much damage Pollard did to U.S. intelligence.

Pollard supporters like to point out that the man responsible for putting Pollard in jail in the first place and making sure he got a life sentence was Caspar Weinberger, secretary of defense under President Reagan and a man never known as being a friend of the Jewish people.

Let's for the moment say Weinberger was indeed an anti-Semite or at least uncomfortable with his own Jewish roots and so unfairly went after Pollard.

Let's say that. That still doesn't explain why for six years Clinton has not rectified that wrong.

I know all the arguments the pro-Pollard crowd makes. First, that you can't call him a traitor because he wasn't convicted of treason, only of "spying on behalf of Israel." A distinction without a difference. Legal hair splitting.

Then they make the fascinating argument that, yes, he did steal information but it was information Israel was entitled to, information vital to Israel's security, information the U.S. legally pledged to share but was unfairly and wrongly withholding.

How unbelievably twisted, how indicative that while Pollard's apologists say they recognize he did wrong, the fact is that they don't really believe it.

The next thing the Pollard apologists say is that he's been in jail far longer than spies who did their thing for hostile countries.

Again fascinating. You expect your worst enemy to spy on you, to betray you, to do anything and everything to you. And so when he does, you may not like it but you are also not surprised by it. If your best friend does the same, however, the sense of betrayal and hurt is far greater, the damage of a different, deeper sort.

Finally, Pollard's apologists like to point out that the plea bargain that got him in jail in the first place was changed at the last minute, that he thought he had made one deal but that the judge double-crossed him. Maybe so. But again, why is that a Jewish issue? Since when is criminal sentencing on the Jewish agenda? If the plea bargain was, in fact, faulty, let the ACLU or groups that specialize in criminal justice issues deal with that. Not us.

Most despicable of all of his supporters' reasons is the term "pidyon shivuyim," redeeming the hostages, one of the most sacred of mitzvot.

To apply that to Pollard's case is to desecrate Judaism. Pidyon shivuyim is about someone kidnapped or taken hostage, someone for whom the community must feel a responsibility, doing all it can for an innocent victim.

Pollard is far from innocent. He is a spy. He is a traitor. Yes, he may be Jewish, but that does not make him or this a Jewish issue.