Pollard is a traitor, and prison is where he belongs

Jonathan Pollard was given another day in court and

his supporters tried once again to make the case that

even if he was a traitor, he doesn’t deserve to be incarcerated

any longer because there were worse spies who

got off with lighter sentences. Few people in the Jewish

community felt this way when he was arrested, but a

groundswell of support for a pardon has grown over

the years. Forgive me for not jumping on the bandwagon,

but if it were up to me Pollard would never see

the light of day again.

It is not surprising that a parade of lawyers has represented

Pollard over the years and, to this day, has failed

to present any justification

for reconsidering

his case. Mostly we

hear the same mantra

about how he was

helping a U.S. ally, not

an enemy; how his

punishment is more

severe than that given

to Soviet spies; how

the United States

shouldn’t be keeping

intelligence from Israel, and how the government made

a plea bargain promising he wouldn’t get life imprisonment

(but no one mentions Pollard violated the terms

of the agreement by speaking to the press). The new

wrinkle is the current legal team’s argument that their

predecessors were incompetent. Lawyers incompetent?

Well, at least that’s something I can believe.

While crocodile tears are being shed for the poor

spy, let’s not forget what he did. First, he violated his

promise — and the law — not to disclose classified

material to anyone. Second, we don’t know how much

damage he caused to U.S. security by giving Israel sensitive

material and compromising important sources

and methods of U.S. intelligence gathering. The advocates

on Pollard’s behalf don’t have any idea what he

stole or who ultimately saw it.

The only people who know what was taken — or

have a good idea of the impact — oppose his release,

and it is notable the list includes some of the most

pro-Israel members of Congress, as well as seven former

U.S. secretaries of defense. Actually one is now

serving that role again and another is now the vice

president, (which does not bode well to the prospects

for a Bush pardon).

Despite personal pleas from Israeli prime ministers

and other friends of Israel, the very pro-Israel Bill Clinton refused to pardon Pollard.

We do know Pollard did immense damage to the level of trust given to American Jews, particularly in sensitive positions. People in the Navy, where Pollard worked, for example, make no secret of the residual bitterness they feel and the suspicions they harbor toward Jews. Beyond the damage to national security, Pollard also caused U.S. officials to be more suspicious of the Israelis.

Pollard showed contempt for Israel by leading the federal agents he knew were on his trail directly to the Israeli Embassy. The name of the game in espionage is deniability, and Pollard may be the only Israeli agent, and one of the few of any country, who deliberately implicated his sponsors before being caught. Do Pollard’s friends really believe this episode helped Israel, that the United States became more willing to share sensitive material as a result?

Those who labor under the illusion that Pollard’s impact on the Jewish community was benign might recall a 1997 Washington Post headline screaming that a top U.S. official was spying for Israel. Once again, Israel and American Jewry were thrown on the defensive. The Post referred to the Pollard case, implying an American Jew could be spying out of “love for Israel.” The fact that there was a Pollard gave the allegation greater credibility. This was another example of the grave damage that man caused and that his apologists continue to ignore.

In my book, Pollard is worse than other spies he is compared to who received more lenient sentences. He was not only a traitor to his country; he betrayed Israel and the American Jewish community. Publicizing his case only compounds the damage. Rather than reopen his case and crusade for a pardon, it is time to throw away the key to Pollard’s cell and focus on repairing the damage he caused.

Mitchell G. Bard is a foreign policy analyst in Maryland

and the author of 17 books, including “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to

Middle East Conflict” and “Myths and Facts.”