Jonathan Pollard
Jonathan PollardYehuda Glick

The Jewish magazine Tablet on Thursday sharply criticized the ongoing US refusal to free Jonathan Pollard, now in his 29th year behind American bars for passing secret documents to Israel. The article argues that Pollard's incarceration reveals anti-Semitism in the American government.

It is noted that Pollard's crime carries a maximum sentence of 10 years, and that he is the only person in US history to be given a life sentence over spying for an allied country.

M.E. Bowman, former deputy general counsel for national security law at the FBI and coordinator of the investigation that sentenced Pollard, published an op-ed in the New York Times this week defending the inordinate sentence.

Bowman there referenced a claim made in 1999 by journalist Seymour Hersh, that Israel gave the Soviet Union information Pollard passed along in order to free Soviet Jews. This information, according to the theory, led to the capture and death of US agents in the Soviet Union in the 1980s.

The Tablet article notes this claim is patently false; from the mid 1990s it has been known that it wasn't Pollard who passed along the names of agents.

Rather, the Soviet Union had 2 high-ranking moles who passed huge amounts of information about US spies. The 2 were Robert Hanssen, Bowman's superior in the FBI at the time, and Aldrich Ames, a CIA counter-intelligence specialist who leaked names leading to at least 10 executions.

"Pollard’s continued incarceration appears, at this point in time, to be intended as a statement that dual loyalty on the part of American Jews is a real threat to America—and a warning to the American Jewish community as a whole," argues the article.

This subtextual message of Pollard's unjustified prison term, namely the anti-Semitic stereotype that Jews aren't trustworthy and must be warned by the example of Pollard, has been received by America's enemies as a green light to target US Jews according to the article.

The analysis there notes that Iran captured former FBI Agent Robert Levinson as he was in the country on a CIA contract and yet pushed the US to end sanctions; Cuba is holding USAID contractor Alan Gross while asking for more trade ties; Pakistan either knows or could find out where USAID contractor Warren Weinstein is being held.

Yet it is argued that these Jewish state employees are targeted because the countries mentioned "know they can get away with it. They do it, because America does it, too."

The article reasons that the Jewish community's condemnation of Pollard's incarceration on humanitarian grounds is a disservice, giving "an unwitting stamp of communal acquiescence to the message of suspicion that Pollard’s punishment is intended to convey."