Pollard: One Stark Reminder

Jonathan Pollard’s lesson to the Jewish People.

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Comments (40)

(29) Ran Hansen, August 19, 2015 11:52 AM

Pollard deserved punishment for betrayal of his country

He was a spy who betrayed the trust of his country, the USA. He deserved harsh punishment for the damage he he did, and no clemency is deserved. I am a staunch supporter of Israel, but find his repugnant actions indefensible.

Dvirah, August 22, 2015 6:39 PM


While I mostly agree with Ran Hansen (not sure about no clemency, but yes Pollard deserved his punishment), what bothers me is the lack of consideration that the US shows to an ally. Two years before Pollard was caught spying, a number of CIA agents were unmasked working undercover in Israel. The Israeli govenment handled the incident with tact and discretion, merely shipping the agents back and downplaying the matter in the media. Whereas the US gov't made far more fuss about Pollard's activities than was really warrented. In fact, the overblown publicity is really the reason people have been fighting for Pollard's release all these years. Had the US treated the Pollard incident with the same tact as Israel did that of the CIA agents. none of the controversy would be necessary.

(28) sidney, August 15, 2015 4:43 AM

Pollard was unjustly punished - and - tell it to David Azoulay

I have never seen the logic of, or the "justice" that was meted out to Pollard... He knew some of the risks, but the punishment he
received for his "crimes" was disproportionate to any "damage". Some antisemite's ego was bruised, I suspect, in regard to Pollard.

Speaking of the need to stick together, the Tribe should simply not tolerate a would-be "minister" such as Azoulay. He would write off 7 million Reform Jews???? He needs to spend more time with Torah and Talmud, and esp. R'Hillel's writings.

(27) Bobby5000, August 14, 2015 3:27 PM

He did what he thought was right

Life is short. During the Holocaust millions of Jews instead of fighting the Germans graciously turned over their houses and goods and went meekly and cooperatively to their deaths. Pollard suffered a huge price doing what he thought was right. Not sure too much could have been done differently, most of the time it does help for a criminal defendant to cooperate and Jews did protest. Sadly Clinton decided to pardon a well-connected supporter instead of Pollard but that was not the Jewish community's decision.

I think people who do what I think is right achieve an inner piece. The German who was not anti-semitic but thoughts he had no choice presumably looked with sadness after the war at the death of his children, the abuse of his wife, and the destruction of his beloved country. There are costs sometimes large but whether it is Moses striking the guard or Pollard turning over information that could get him in trouble we have to be guided by our conscience.

(26) S F, August 12, 2015 11:53 PM

It is past time

Like Mr. David, I am not Jewish but I am sickened by the treatment that Mr, Pollard received and feel he should have been released long ago, better still, never imprisoned at all. I am more sick with our government seemingly turning its back on Israel..my prayer is that all Americans wake up and support Israel. Many Jewish people helped found this nation of USA, we need to be thankful.

(25) Robert David, August 12, 2015 6:47 AM


As a non Jewish American I very happy Pollard was released. I thought he should have been released long ago. What I find so sad, is that America can not be trusted as a true friend. Given that Israel is in a fight for her existence and knowing American politics....Pollard was compelled to serve the greater good. Frankly I'm embarrassed as an American. It's easy to understand why Israel, the true bastion of freedom in the middle east, feels that they must stand alone.

(24) Frances Makarova, August 11, 2015 7:42 PM

Jonathan Pollard was imprisoned for 30 years by America

Reminds me of another Jew, who spent 30 years imprisoned in Egypt. His name was Joseph. He was eventually greatly blessed by HaShem.

(23) Frances Makarova, August 11, 2015 7:19 PM

Jonathan Pollard was a victim of politically incorrect view

As I recall it Jonathan Pollard was not spying, due to his job he saw a document which put Israel in danger. As a Jew he knew that Israel was entitled to the information which the USA was concealing from Israel, this information was EXTREMELY important for Israel's continued existence. So the USA railroaded him for revealing it. He has spent the majority of his life in prison as a result. Remember Israel was and still is an ally of the USA.

(22) alan ziegler, August 11, 2015 3:06 PM

The Nation that stands alone...

Kudos for Salomon who quotes the Torah. A symptom of spiritual and physical exile is amnesia of who are true and only Friend is. Now that regret is being expressed about Pollard's "extended" incarceration, what are the American Jews going to do about the vindictive restriction from his coming directly to Israel? Or is it also a topic that cannot be breached? If so, has the lesson of Pollard's vengeful treatment really been learned?
Alan Ziegler, Jerusalem

(21) Nancy Grooms, August 11, 2015 9:05 AM


Sad to hear this is the response. Can't imagine why anyone would be opposed to Jonathon being released. I would imagine ignorance of the actions is the reason? Yes, Israel does stand alone when push comes to shove. But as individuals......maybe not as nations.....we are with you.

(20) Rafael, August 11, 2015 2:46 AM

Pollard was working for a foreign government

As an American , the Pollard case demonstrated the different agendas of the US and Israel. Informers and spies exist to compromise the position of an adversary .
Rabbi Solomon implies that Jews are not nationals of other countries but are political and economic entities of Israel . This philosophy jeopardizes the infrastructure of any country and cast suspicion on all Jews . Supporting Pollard has dangerous implications .

(19) Rachel, August 11, 2015 1:25 AM

If Mr Pollard supported Israel more than the US, he should have resigned

I am a retired federal employee who held a security clearance. All federal employees take an oath to uphold the Constitution and laws of the US. This includes keeping the government's classified information secret. Furthermore, anyone with less than a cabinet-level position is not going to know the big picture, such as whether classified info is being shared selectively with a foreign government.
Mr Pollard committed espionage for Israel, and he was paid by Israel. His actions caused problems for other Jewish-American federal employees for years to come. On a personal level, I am glad he will be released soon. But plead.for his release because he is a pro-Israel fellow Jew? No, I have not done and will not do that for someone who violated his oath to a country where Jews have been treated with respect and trust.

(18) Harry Pearle, August 10, 2015 3:29 PM

Pollard Spying, Mixed Reaction (NYTimes, Ronen Bergman)

Thanks for your comments. But I read a mixed analysis from Israeli, Ronen Bergmand: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/07/29/opinion/pollards-release-shows-that-israelis-just-dont-get-america.html

Spying is messy business. Pollard was not released by previous presidents of both parties and we can wonder why... I am confused. THANKS

(17) Anonymous, August 10, 2015 10:09 AM

Who cares about Israel?

The comment of Anonymous (# 12) is a topic for another video:

"orthodox jews are concerned about israel; the bulk of americans do not care or have been to israel "

Maybe it's time that Israelis took note of this ........

(16) Anonymous, August 10, 2015 10:02 AM

Rabbi Salomon, can you elaborate on Israel's reaction to Pollard? Why did they close the embassy doors when he went to them for refuge, as promised? Why haven't they done more to save him from imprisonment and get him released during the last 30 years? What are we ordinary, non-political people supposed to deduce from this?

(15) Joyful, August 9, 2015 10:28 PM

G-d is your defence surely - not yourselves alone!!!

As a Gentile I also empathise with you about Jonathan's plight and have been outraged at the US's great injustice towards him placing a photo of him on my dressing table to remind me to pray for him each night. I agree too Israel is on her own amongst the nations but surely the Lord G-d of Israel is your defence and is the One to be relied on not each other altho yes as a people group you have in the main a wonderful community spirit but we know man is not perfect. Given that you are a Rabbi I'm surprised you did not mention this!!!

(14) Alan S., August 9, 2015 10:19 PM

I incorrectly and should never have used the word 'treason'.

According to Wikipedia, Pollard pleaded guilty to spying for and providing top-secret classified information to Israel.
The remainder of my sentiments are still valid. It does not make any difference as to whether, G-d forbid, Israel was declared an enemy or G-d forbid, war was declared by America against Israel, for Pollard was sworn to uphold the constitution and flag of the U.S.

(13) basha, August 9, 2015 9:48 PM

he was not forgotten..

My late husband wrote to Jonathan Pollard every month until a few days before he died. I subsequently wrote to all Presidents of the US and various outlets, baying for his release, all to no avail.. I remind the Rabbi that Mr Pollard did not "spy for the US" - Justin in his comments above, got it right with his more detailed diatribe on Mr Pollards situation so I trust Rabbi Salomon's outpouring on the matter could be amended, Jews have enough trouble with incorrect information taken out of context.

(12) Anonymous, August 9, 2015 9:13 PM

i respectfully disagree

most americans do not know who pollard is.
that is the fault of jewish leaders
i think him selling the information undercuts sympathy for him
his actions expose all jews to the canard of dual loyalty
its true he was in prison longer than other spies to enemies
orthodox jews are concerned about israel the bulk of americans do not care or have been to israel

(11) Ezra, August 9, 2015 8:08 PM

Pollard's release.

Jonathan Pollard "crime" in my opinio was not a crime, but rather a mitzvah saving Israel and Jewish lives.

(10) Geoffrey L Rogg, August 9, 2015 7:49 PM


This is one Rabbi who does not get it and sticks to the old knee-jerk reaction that sentencing a Jew for a well deserved term in prison is an act of anti-semitism. Pollard spied to sell information to whoever would buy it to try and get out of his irresponsible lifestyle debts, no more no less. I hope that the terms of his parole will preclude his leaving the USA and his having to report to his parole officer on a weekly basis in addition to having to wear a bracelet so that his movements can be continuously monitored.

(9) Nancy, August 9, 2015 7:42 PM

My mother was right.

When I was a young girl, my mother always said that the Jews would never be accepted by the rest of the world. I used to get annoyed at this comment and thought she was paranoid. Now that I am an adult, I am finding out that my mother was absolutely correct (sadly).

(8) Baruch, August 9, 2015 7:09 PM

Inspire Me Instead!

Everyone agrees that Pollard should be free. It's the wasted energy, hoopla & circus surrounding him that is troubling.


When I was young, I loved thinking about and going to any Jewish parade, protest or gathering. My Kipa on campus was almost a badge of honor. Jewish was associated with Sharansky, nobility, & human rights; with Dayan, Rabin, charisma & strength; with Kissinger, Abba Eban, intelligence & power-politics; with Carlebach & cool Rabbis exuding warmth & care; with Reichman, success, charity & modesty; with Golda Meir balancing glory, high-honors, feminism and Jewish-motherhood; with 6-Day-Wars, miracles & respect-even-from-enemies; with Soloveitchik, brilliance & his universally-read spiritual literature. I am sure we had our villains, but our focus was on heroes.

Today, my kids' thoughts are occupied with criminal victims like Pollard and Rubashkin (notwithstanding victims of injustice, they did get nailed, red-handed, with their hands in the cookie jar); Superstar thieves like Madoff, President of Israel Katsav & Prime Minister Olmert shamed; ETC AD NAUSEUM..

I walk around Israel and travel in America and see a grand forest of more heroes than ever. But the younger guests at our table don't even know who Sharansky is (REALLY!) and obsessively whine away about the trees of "Pollard and company". They no longer see Israel's forest of greatness. ( And the irony is that the forest is bigger and thicker and greater than ever! )

We get energy for everything from learning Torah to waving flags for Israel from what inspires & motivates us. We need to shift our focus, conversations, headlines, causes, gatherings, speeches, protestations, & mental zoom to our noble activities and personalities.

Like our internet connection, each person has only so much bandwidth.

Let's focus it better and get inspired, as we ought to be, as Israel deserves to be.

(7) Yossi Kluger, August 9, 2015 6:49 PM

Not quite, rabbi

What an absolutely bizarre video.

I understand that you are a "kiruv professional" and a psychotherapist, not a political commentator. But, your only takeways are that Jews must stick together and “we are all we got”?


Lets leave alone the theological point that Jews are never alone; we have God. Here are three other lessons most thinking individuals grasp about L’Affaire Pollard:

* Friends don’t let friends . . . commit treason

* Mistreating a friend sometimes –- often -– hurts more than being abused by an enemy

* Anti-Semites are often good at making noise.

Nobody is saying that Pollard’s punishment was justified. It clearly wasn’t. But the man did damage.

Here are more reasons to consider why the world – Jewish and society at large -- isn’t jumping for joy at news of Pollard’s scheduled release. Pollard:

* Opened the “dual loyalty” wound that was thought long healed.

* A) He got caught. B) Folks stick their heads out for underdogs, not incompetents.

Your thesis that because anti-Pollard sentiments are high on the blogs (including commenting) means this is a reflection of reality shows just how out of ouch you are. Ask any net savvy teen what “Internet trolls” are.

May I politely suggest that you stick to areas you have fluency in?

(6) Jody B., August 9, 2015 5:16 PM

Know the ENTIRE Story

Johnathan Pollard was a spy. It matters not for whom he spied, because he spied only for the money! He betrayed his country (the United States of America) for a long time and for no other reaason. When he was captured, the Israeli government disavowed him. For those of you writing (and I include R. Salomon) we Jews have always been accused of dual loyalties. You are only reinforcing the anti-Semitic position on the lack of Jewish patriotism toward America. Learn some history and understand what Pollard did to denigrate all Jews everywhere as well as this - our country.

Joseph A., August 9, 2015 9:09 PM

No man can serve two masters

I have to agree with Jody B. Even his supporters say he had to do some time 5 or 10 years, like other spies. Please don't give the impression that spying for Israel is O.K. Everyone involved with his trial was Jewish. If you have a job which requires an oath of loyalty is breaking that oath a sin?

Gary Epstein, August 10, 2015 4:17 AM

dual loyalties

Today we see Senator Chuck Schumer accused of dual loyalties for expressing opposition to the "deal" with Iran

(5) Chavi, August 9, 2015 4:16 PM

a lone voice - no celebration yet

I seem to be a lone voice on this issue. Why should Pollard have to languish another 4 months in prison, including the month of Tishrei, with all of its holidays and holy days? If Jonathan were your son or your brother or your father or you husband, would you just accept that with complacency?? I will not be celebrating his release until he is actually released! In the meantime the powers-that-be have found a very effective way to shut us up for the next 4 months. DON'T STOP PRAYING FOR POLLARD!!!

(4) David S. Levine, August 9, 2015 3:12 PM

Lack of Interest in Pollard

As someone who did write about Pollard these past 30 years, but not enough, I fully understand Rabbi Salomon's remarks. I well remember that when Bill Clinton went on a pardon and commutation spree it didn't include Jonathan Pollard. At the time, and the story was NEVER contradicted, it was reported that Clinton gave the Jewish Community the choice between Pollard and the millionaire Marc Rich. Perhaps hoping for a large contribution from his family (his wife made one to the Clinton Presidential Library) the Jewish "leadership" supposedly decided on Rich--a disgusting decision. I don't know whether any Jewish organization received anything as a result but it was totally cynical of them. Again, the story was NEVER contradicted at that time or later. Rich's ex wife has since given up her citizenship for tax purposes and settled in anti-Semitic Austria. Much blame for Pollard's sentence was placed on former Defense Secretary Weinberger, and he deserves it. But none was placed on the Democ-rat judge who meted out that sentence, Aubery Robinson, an appointee to the Federal District Court of Jimmy Carter on the recommendation of DC's "shadow senator" Jesse Jackson. (This must be the only time a Democ-rat judge agreed to a long sentence on the recommendation of any Republican politician.) The sentence was confirmed on appeal by Court of Appeals Judge Ruth Bader Ginsberg, another Carter appointee who, for her "good works" was placed on the Supreme Court by Hillary's husband. That must also be remembered this political season along with Obama's Iran "deal."

(3) Justin4J4JP, August 9, 2015 3:01 PM

Video is well intentioned but factually misinformed. Parole is not freedom!

Rabbi Salomon, your conclusion that Israel stands alone may be correct, but your background information on Pollard is deeply flawed and very damaging to a man who is still in prison and in a life and death situation. (FYI Pollard did not spy on the US and he did not sell information to any country! He spied in the US for the benefit of Israel. He was an agent of Israel. Agents are not paid mercenaries! For Heaven's sake, get your facts straight!)
More importantly, you seem not to understand that Parole is not Freedom! Jonathan Pollard is not being set free. Parole means he will be confined to the US for the next 15 years on the very constricted, limited conditions of parole. He has the balance of a 45 year sentence hanging over his head. He can be re-arrested and re-imprisoned at any time for any reason, and used against Israel and the Jews, with ease for the next decade and a half. Learn the the facts. Start by reading JPost Editorial for details and learn why neither Israel nor the Jews of America are home free yet -- not as long as Pollard continues to be held hostage on parole by the US for possible future use against them http://www.jpost.com/Opinion/Jerusalem-Post-editorial-Dont-parole-Pollard-410718
More information available at​
Website: http://www.JonathanPollard.org
Follow J4JP on Twitter:http://twitter.com/J4JPollard Follow J4JP on Facebook:http://www.facebook.com/justice4jp

Now what was that you were saying about how you should have done more?

Micha Yaacov Ben Zeev, August 10, 2015 3:42 AM

Pollard Parole

And so the respectfull Rav Salomon can add my name to his list
of dissenters vis-a-vis Pollard. As you correctly reminded me,
his sentence is actually what he deserves for treason.
Why oh why do some of us Jews go against the grain when one of our own is reprimanded and legitimately accused resulting in sentencing? Had he Benin treated any less harshly, we Jews would have yet again been seen as giving back handlers to illicit a gentler sentence ! Well, I Personally thank the Amareican justice system for meting out exactly the same sentence as they would have done for a U.S. citizen irrespective of his or her Religiosity, Color or Creed. Wake up and smell the Gentile coffee Rabbi, treason marks any man or woman as an enemy of the state against which they have acted. And all your rhetoric sounds nothing less than lamentable excuses, wherein there are none.
End of, this being as water tight as is possible. Until such time as we Jews do not learn to take full responsibility for our occasional misdeeds we will remain a group of pariahs in the midst of a world beset with hardship and difficulties. Micha Ben Zeev ......

Leah, August 10, 2015 11:52 AM


Pollard did not receive the same sentence as any American would have for the same crime.
Someone.else.received a total of seven years.for.selling info that would have hurt America..His sentence was commuted, too. Something like 2 years from 7.
Pollard was done over by Weinberger.who.said that Pollard would never get out etc...
Everyone agrees.that a thirty year sentence has never been given between friendly country info etc...
Did he commit a crime in the US?
Yes. Was it the.worst offense? No.
There was so.much corruption in the WH.and the US courts... it's not so easy shmeasy.lemon squeezy, Micha.

(2) Shelly, August 9, 2015 2:31 PM


Rabbi, thank you for articulating my sentiments. Yes, I should have done more, made more noise, showed more support. Mr Pollard always had a chair at our Seder table but that was passive protest. Again, I should have done more. But, nobody could be happier about his release. I am sponsoring the Kiddish in my shul the weekend of his release. I will be rejoicing knowing that Mr Pollard is FREE!!!! Thank you Rabbi for your very profound and important words.

Micha Yaacov Ben Zeev, August 10, 2015 3:51 AM

Pollard Parole

Irrespective of blatant inaccuracies in Rabbi Salomon's words,
oh dear how naive some of us are ?

(1) Alan S., August 9, 2015 10:47 AM

Well, there are many ways of looking at this issue.

I don't think it is fair to equate a crime of treason with a discussion of whether Israel stands alone because some people have extreme views of Pollard. What Pollard did was treason. As I wrote on another web site about this: for sure, his punishment was disproportionate to the 'crime' he committed. He absolutely, definitely should have been paroled much, much earlier and should not have received the sentence he did. He should have received the same sentence that others did. He was definitely singled out because of his religion. Nonetheless, one can not equate a crime of treason, which is what Pollard did, with a discussion of whether Israel stands alone. This gets to the age old issue of where an American Jew's loyalty lies: to Israel or to America?

Reuben B, August 9, 2015 2:11 PM


American Jews have a loyalty to 'Jews', first and foremost. So yes, indeed, in a war between Israel and America (G-d forbid), I would think we'd be forgiven for siding with Israel. That doesn't mean that we don't have tremendous loyalty to the United States of America.

Put it this way: On a "loyalty scale" of 1 - 200, assuming 200 countries (just an estimation), Israel would be #1 and the US #2. That ain't bad, right?

Anonymous, August 9, 2015 5:06 PM

the answer

Our loyalty is with the United States, plain and simple. Our interest lies with Israel. Theres should be no question for American Jews.If Aish's position is otherwise.. I will unsubscribe.

Reuben, August 9, 2015 7:51 PM

Loyalty to Israel, Period.

I am not Aish, nor do I represent any organization. I am just a commentator as you are. And I say this: Your loyalty and interest shall be with Israel. If your country of origin and citizenship were to fight a war against your own "family", for example, would you so soon take the side of the country.......or side with your family?? I hope my point is understood.

Anonymous, August 10, 2015 11:56 AM

Reuben, Reuben,

Just give anonymous a little more time. Soon enough Israel will be given even more ultimatums by the WH and anonymous will have no.choice but to see the truth....

Justin4J4JP, August 9, 2015 3:06 PM

Pollard did not commit treason. Nor was he ever indicted for treason. Treason is defined by the Consitution as aiding an enemy state at at time of war

Wake up! You and fellow American Jews have had 30 years to learn the facts! Treason is defined by the United States Consitution as aiding and abetting an enemy state at at time of war. If Jonathan Pollard committed treason, who is the enemy, Israel? and since when have Israel and the US entered a declared state of war? Damage that is done to Pollard by people foolishly creating their own facts instead of taking the time and trouble to learn the truth is criminally irresponsible, and a great sin.


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