The Release of Jonathan Pollard

The Release of Jonathan Pollard



Author Rivka Cohen

“Mr. Obama, it doesn’t look good that only the Jew is still in jail after so many years,” said Moshe Feiglin to 1,000 Israelis protesting Jonathan Pollard’s 29 year imprisonment.

Pollard, a former U.S. intelligence analyst, was imprisoned by the United States government in 1987 for passing classified information to Israel. He remains in prison today.

Pollard shared information containing plans for terrorism against Israeli civilians, plans by Lebanon, Iran and other surrounding countries concerning deadly nuclear and chemical weapons for use against Israel, and information on ballistic missile development intended to hit Israel.

Israel was legally entitled to the information Pollard obtained. According to a 1983 memorandum between the Jewish state and the U.S., Israel had rights to U.S. information vital to Israeli security.

Before receiving his sentence, Jonathan Pollard reached an agreement with the United States Government that he would not be sentenced to life imprisonment. In doing so, he relinquished his right to a trial, plead guilty and cooperated with government investigators. His efforts proved futile.

The United States claimed that his actions had reduced U.S. bargaining power over information with the Israelis and caused tension between the U.S. and Arab countries. Pollard was sent to life imprisonment despite his bargain. He remains the only man to be sentenced to life for giving classified information to an ally.

The United States uses Pollard as a pawn to pressure Israel into concessions during peace negotiations. President Clinton promised Yitzhak Rabin Pollard’s release in return for a peace deal. Clinton failed to keep that promise after Rabin’s assassination.

During the current negotiations, the U.S. is again offering Pollard’s freedom in order to continue the negotiations. To bring the Palestinians to the table, the U.S. has so far pressured Israel into releasing 78 Palestinian terrorists, many of them with Israeli blood on their hands.

While murderers are released from Israeli prisoners, the U.S. continues to use Pollard as a bargaining chip against the Israelis.

There is no question that what Jonathan Pollard did was illegal and a betrayal of the trust of the United States. However, the U.S. negotiated a plea bargain with Pollard and did not go through with the commitment. They continue to use him as a political tool, ignoring justice for the sake of politics.

Former CIA Director James Woolsey hinted at the U.S. government’s anti-Semitism in Pollard’s sentence, saying, “imagine he’s a Greek American and free him,” but it should not be necessary to ignore his Jewishness to act on justice.

The real appeal should be to “imagine he’s a human being unjustly imprisoned and free him.” Americans and Jews should be appealing to the U.S. government to release a man who has been unjustly sentenced and imprisoned. Just as Pollard sits and waits in prison, so too does justice wait to be acted upon, as the United States government continues to abuse the legal system to benefit U.S. interests in the Middle East.


Rivka Liron Bat Cohen is a student at Boston University and the videographer for CAMERA (Committee For Accuracy in the Middle East)


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