During this latest surge in the effort to free Jonathan Pollard, I have read editorials and letters to editors suggesting that opposition to his release is rooted in anti-Semitism, and that it is somehow “un-American” to make him serve his full sentence. Lost in the rhetoric is that fact that many of those who oppose his release are not only Jewish, but ardent Zionists as well. I proudly count myself among those.
Pollard was a traitor to his country. Traitors don’t get to decide who it’s okay to spy for; they don’t get to decide when their betrayal will or won’t hurt the country; and they don’t get to play the anti-Semitism card to walk out of prison early. My father fought and was willing to die for the United States; the same is true of hundreds of thousands of others, Jewish and non-Jewish. What Pollard did betrayed everything they stood for and fought for.
The suggestion that his release would somehow endear President Obama to Israel or that it would ease the relationship between Israel and the United States is equally offensive. As much as I deplore the president’s approach to Israel, the relationship between the two countries has always been, and should continue to be, based upon mutual respect and self-interest. To suggest that Obama has to perform an act of contrition by releasing a convicted spy should be unpalatable to every American, regardless of their race, religion, or politics.
Like so many American Jews, I would give my life if necessary for the United States, and I would give it just as freely for Israel. Like so many, I struggle with the prospect of America and Israel diverging from the path that they have historically walked together. And like so many, I cringe at the attitude of the current administration towards a traditional and steadfast ally. But no matter what the future brings, Jonathan Pollard’s solution can never be our solution. Betrayal is not an answer, or even an option.
Jeffrey A. Bronster