A difference of opinion

May 5, 2021 by Henry Benjamin
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Jonathan Pollard was sentenced to life imprisonment in 1987 for spying for Israel in the United States…and now is the keynote speaker at an event in Jerusalem celebrating Jerusalem Day.

Jonathan Pollard and his wife Esther in the first photograph following his release from prison. Credit: Justice for Jonathan Pollard.

He is the only American to receive a life sentence for passing classified information to an ally of the U.S.

He was released on parole in 2015. The parole finished last year. Having made an Israeli citizen in 1995. he took his second wife directly to Israel and now lives in Jerusalem.

On Jerusalem Day. May 9/10, he has been by Mizrachi to be the keynote speaker at their function in Israel’s capital.

Australian Mizrachi president Dr Danny Lamm has welcomed this move and has collaborated with Melbourne’s Caulfield Shul to host an event which will beam Pollard’s address by video link.

But not everyone has welcomed this move.

Dr Colin Rubenstein, the executive director of The Australia/Israel and Jewish Affairs Council, told J-Wire: “Jonathan Pollard is not someone who should ever be held up as a role model.

He committed espionage against his country, badly damaged Israel’s relations with its most important ally, and, to this day, remains unrepentant for his crime. While one can sympathise with Pollard over the excessive punishment he received, we believe the decision to invite him to be the keynote speaker for Jerusalem Day events at two major Australian religious Jewish congregations is divisive and misguided.

We strongly disagree with this choice, which will, unfortunately, have a negative impact on an event that should be devoted to Jewish unity in the celebration of Jerusalem.”

Benjamin Netanyahu greets Jonathan Pollard on his arrival in Israel.

His views are shared by Jeremy Leibler, the president of the Zionist Federation of Australia. He told Haaretz: “While the hosts of the Yom Yerushalayim event are free to select their guest of honour, I can think of far more appropriate guests to speak at such an event than an individual who has been convicted and imprisoned by Israel’s strongest and most reliable ally for treason.

The issue of Jonathan Pollard raises very serious issues for Jewish communities in the Diaspora and one has to question the judgment of selecting him as a keynote speaker for such an event.”

Jonathan and Esther Pollard greeted in a Jerusalem restaurant

The Rabbinical Council of Victoria is also hosting the Jerusalem Day at Caulfield Synagogue. They declined to comment.

Jonatha Pollard is a former intelligence analyst for the United States government. Israel apologised to the United States for the act of espionage

Mizrachi president Danny Lamm said Jonathan Pollard will appear with many top rabbis, the mayor of Jerusalem and politicians at an event on Jerusalem Day in Jerusalem itself at Yeshivat Merkaz Harav

He told J-Wire: “He is more than accepted in Israel and is revered.”
In Israel, he is not a controversial individual and the information he gave Israel saved many Israeli lives. There is no evidence of any damage to the USA.
The American administrations should be ashamed of themselves for agreeing to keep him in jail for 10,956 days plus an additional 1,828 on parole. They are a hell of a lot more days and a harsher punishment than the worst Russian spies who did cause damage.
Accordingly, both the ECAJ and ZFA had policy positions seeking Pollard’s release .
He did his time. He’s now an Israeli citizen who has made his home in Jerusalem, about which he’ll be speaking on Yom Yerushalayim.”

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