Let’s be abundantly clear about something. Jonathan Pollard is a traitor to the United States of America, and should spend the rest of his life paying for his crimes. He inflicted catastrophic damage on American national security, he betrayed the trust of those who thought well of him and gave him access to sensitive intelligence, and if he is at all remorseful about his actions, I have yet to hear of it. And even if I do hear about it, I’ll have no reason whatsoever to believe it.
So, it is more than a little disconcerting to read that Pollard may be released soon. Oh, we are told that this has nothing to do with the nuclear deal with Iran, and Israel’s objections to it, and that any release of Pollard has nothing whatsoever to do with smoothing over ruffled relations between the Obama administration and Israel–not to mention the Obama administration and the American Jewish community–but if you believe that the issues are not linked, then I have some subprime mortgages that I would like to talk to you about. And that leads to another statement worth making: The notion that Israel and American Jews will consider their concerns regarding the nuclear deal with Iran bought off in the event that Pollard is released is one of the more insulting and offensive beliefs out there. Israel, like any other rational country, and fully in line with the expectations set out by the realist theory of international relations, is concerned first and foremost with its own national security interests. Any threats to those interests, and those concerns will not magically disappear just because Jonathan Pollard might be released. As for American Jews, their affinity for the state of Israel means that they too won’t stop worrying about threats to Israel’s security just because Pollard gets out of jail. Moreover–and I really should not have to write this–American Jews are Americans first, and as a consequence, we are as outraged as any other Americans over Pollard’s betrayal of our country.
I would like to think that there is no truth to the rumors that Pollard might be released. But I fear that there might be, and if Pollard is indeed released, the relationship between the Obama administration and Israel/the American Jewish community will not improve. Nor should they. If Pollard is released, it would constitute a naked attempt to curry favor with Israel and the American Jewish community over an issue that is, at best, tangential, while leaving very real problems and conflicts unaddressed and unresolved.