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Pollard: Obama's Jewish Bargaining Chip

By Varda Epstein
4/1/2014, 6:04 PM

Rumor has it that Jonathan Pollard is now in play as a bargaining chip: with his release set before Passover, the holiday of freedom, in exchange for Israel releasing another 400 terrorists.

I read the report today and felt sick. Jonathan Pollard is no terrorist. Why conflate the two issues?

Jonathan Pollard should be set free because he shouldn’t be in jail. He should be set free for humanitarian reasons. He’s no threat to anyone. He is incarcerated only because he is a Jew.

Jonathan Pollard (By U.S. Navy (U.S. Navy) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons)

And to release 400 more terrorists with the astronomical recidivism rate? In exchange for Washington doing the right thing??

Releasing 400 Jew-murderers into the Jewish State for one very ill Jewish man who presents no danger to anyone in the world?

So President Obama can give his Jewish voters one more argument to make against those who say Obama is the worst president for Israel, ever?

He will be able to say, “I have done what no other U.S. president was willing to do. I released Jonathan Pollard. I have proved my friendship to Israel and to the Jewish people.”

President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu. If looks could kill.

At the same time, he forces the release of hundreds of murderers into our land who will prey on the Jewish people in their own state at last after thousands of years.

It is absolutely sickening. It can’t be countenanced.

And yet, I sense my own hypocrisy and that of those who agree with me.

How many times did we say, “He (Kerry, Obama et al.) wants us to release murderers but the U.S. won’t release Jonathan Pollard, who is no terrorist and has served his sentence way past the limits of human decency?”

We, ourselves, conflated the two issues, where no linkage should ever have been made.

And now we all see the error, some of us more clearly than others.

What the Israeli PM should do, MUST do now is to make very clear that we do not trade in human cargo. Pollard should be released because it’s the only decent thing to do. And he should absolutely refuse to release any more terrorists for any reason whatsoever.

No terrorists SHOULD ever have been released and especially not in exchange for Pollard.

But how will we live with ourselves now if we have the chance to get Yehonatan ben Malka out of prison and we don’t do what needs to be done to make that happen?

I don’t want to speak the words. But what if his health further deteriorates as we hold fast to our refusal to deal: this for that—future dead Jews, God forbid, for one live, but very ill Jew who languishes in prison needlessly?

It hurts.

All we can do is look to the lesson in the story of Rabbi Meir of Rothenburg, who died in prison rather than allow the Jewish community to pay ransom money in exchange for his release. Only 14 years after his death was a ransom paid in order to retrieve R. Meir’s body for burial.

Tombs of Meir of Rothenburg (left) and Alexander ben Salomon Wimpfen who paid the ransom (right) in the Jewish cemetery in Worms, Germany (Wikimedia Commons CC-BY-SA Jörg Bürgis)

It hurts. Oh how it hurts.

But I think we must refuse. The question is whether it matters what I or anyone else thinks? We didn’t want the Disengagement and they did it anyway. We didn’t want any prisoners released and they were anyway.

Ultimately, it doesn’t seem to matter what we think or what we want. Our government acts by executive fiat and we have no voice, no say in the matter.

What will happen will happen.

And I fear for the future.