By Intermountain Jewish News (IJN) Editorial Staff
Listening to the endless special pleading on behalf of Jonathan Pollard, one would think he was an innocent man, wrongly accused, wrongly convicted, wrongly imprisoned. In fact, Pollard spied against his country. If his sentence is excessive, it is clear that the reason is the US wants to make an example out of him, to send a message to Israel: Don’t look your gift horse in the mouth again.
If Pollard’s sentence is excessive, it is matched, and more than matched, by the incessant lobbying on his behalf by countless Jewish organizations, whose statements acknowledging the seriousness of Pollard’s crime are weak and even insincere in this sense: Alongside the acknowledgement of espionage is this disclaimer, “Well, it really wasn’t so bad, since Pollard was, after all, only spying for an ally.” As if it were guaranteed that the information Pollard supplied to Israel never ended up in the hands of America’s worst enemy at the time, the USSR. The pro-Pollard lobbying efforts have the effect of crying wolf. When a genuinely innocent American Jew is imprisoned, who in the upper echelons of the US government is listening hard enough to do anything on behalf of Alan Gross?
Gross is wrongly accused, wrongly convicted and wrongly imprisoned by Cuba. Gross’ crime, such as it was, was to show the local Jewish community how to use computers; and this, while Gross was under contract with the US Agency on International Development. Gross was not spying against the US or, for that matter, against Cuba. He was an innocent expert doing his job for the US, neither intending nor effecting any harm against Cuba.
Meanwhile, Gross is suffering medically, he is denied medical care, he is wasting away. He is worthy of our outrage, our protests, our demands for his freedom. He is living a nightmare, as is his family. He deserves to be released. And our voices deserve to be heard. They are, we fear, drowned out by the Pollard lobbying, which has this effect: Here come American Jews again, seeking benefits for one of their own — one who doesn’t deserve it.
Choose your battles wisely.