Jonathan Jay Pollard, the convicted traitor and Israeli spy, is like a bad case of herpes that keeps popping up every time you are ready for a date. He and his venomous followers just won’t go away. Once again, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu is trying to use him as a “bargaining chip” as a condition of continuing to talk to the Palestinians. All the usual suspects are lining up behind Pollard and Netanyahu. I have some thoughts on this.
Just prior to Pollard’s sentencing in 1987, former Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger wrote a confidential 46-page report for the court. A two-page summary was released to the public. Weinberger said, “It is difficult for me, even in the so-called ‘year of the spy’ [alluding to other cases that year] to conceive of a greater harm to national security than that caused by the defendant in view of the breadth, the critical importance to the U.S., and the high sensitivity of the information he sold to Israel.”
Weinberger said Pollard had “damaged and destroyed policies and national assets.” “Assets” refers to U.S. agents inside of the Soviet Union exposed and executed. “Policies” refers to the release of military codes that enabled the tracking of plane and ship locations. These ended up in Moscow.
When I was a boy, our fathers and uncles had answered the call and fought a war for freedom. In those days, we took our patriotism seriously. Back then, I read a short story by Edward Everett Hale written during the Civil War. It was called “Man Without A Country.” In it, a naval officer (Nolan) is accused of treason is court martialed. During his trial he renounces the United States and says he never wants to hear that name again.
The stunned judge decides to give him his wish. His punishment is that for the rest of his life he will be kept on a naval ship. He will be allowed to move about and be treated with the respect due his rank, but no one will mention the United States in his presence or tell him anything about the country. Whenever the ship gets close to the U.S. he will be moved to another ship. In his old age, Nolan realizes that he loves the country, but it is too late.
I do not think we should “exchange” Pollard. This would be saying, “You are holding ‘our’ terrorists and we are holding your spy. Let’s have a Cold War-type swap.”
Those Palestinian prisoners (some of whom killed Israelis) are not American agents, regardless of what Netanyahu and his extremist cabinet might think. We are trying to save Israel from its own rush to self-destruction. Netanyahu is acting as if we are trying to force them to compromise their national interest, or even national survival.
What we should do is expel Pollard. Do not negotiate or use this as a “card” to get the Israelis to be more amenable to negotiation. Netanyahu has no intention of being more amenable. We should recognize reality and act on our own behalf. We should tell Netanyahu that any kind of exchange is off the table. Then we should announce unilaterally that Pollard is being expelled to the country of his heart and of his loyalty. If Netanyahu wants him, let him have him.
As a condition of his release, we should make Pollard sign an agreement that he will separate himself entirely from this country. He will never again make telephone calls to the United States or read American newspapers or news sources on the internet. He will agree that any Facebook or Twitter accounts he sets up will not have Americans on them. He will agree never again to say the words “America” or “United States.”
If he gives interviews they will be in Hebrew, not English. He will agree not to have teleconferences with extremist groups in this country. [Leave “extremist” undefined. Anyone who has a teleconference with him can explain why they are not in that category]. As soon as he enters Israeli air space, he should be stripped of his citizenship. He should be banned from any future travel to this country.
Of course, he will violate his agreements as soon as he is out of our control, but we would be making the point. We would be rid of this vile person.
— Dr. Ron Stockton is a history professor at the University of Michigan-Dearborn