by Phyllis Chesler | FrontPage Magazine | December 31st, 2010
Although he was loyal to a Middle Eastern country, the American military hired him as an intelligence officer and translator anyway—partly because he knew an important Middle East language. Nevertheless, he was a poor choice. This man passed classified documents to “insurgents” in Iraq who were battling American forces; he also had conversations with members of Al Qaeda and kept their documents on his computer.
His name—one of five aliases—is Noureddine Malki. He pretended to be from Lebanon, the persecuted son of a Muslim father and a Christian mother, and on this basis allegedly sought and received asylum in America, naturalized citizenship, and a job as an Arabic translator for the Army. He received top secret clearance and was working in Iraq where he took bribes from various Sunni sheikhs and passed classified information on to them.
He was caught, tried and, in 2008, sentenced to—ten years. Currently, Noureddine Malki (if that is his real name) communicates with people from his jail cell. He claims that he was once held in solitary for six months and wants the ACLU to investigate.
Jonathan Pollard was held in solitary for seven years and has been held captive for twenty five years.
Pollard has absolutely no blood on his hands. He has been scapegoated for the considerable crimes of the non-Jewish American Soviet spy Aldrich Ames. Unlike Noureddine Malki and Ames, Pollard passed secrets to an American ally, not to a terrorist group with which America was or is now at war.
Since I published my first piece about Pollard, I have done some further research. The facts strongly suggest that Pollard is primarily guilty of being a Jew and a Zionist. The fact that he also behaved recklessly, criminally or, some might say, heroically on behalf of America’s ally, Israel, is almost beside the point.
Why was Pollard given so long a sentence? Why was Noureddine Malki given so short a sentence?
Is racial ( racist) profiling the issue? Is Judeophobia more of an issue than Islamophobia is?
Radio and television host Zev Brenner, who interviewed me recently about my previous Pollard piece, has been calling for congressional hearings on the “racial profiling of Jews in American military intelligence and in the CIA and FBI.” This is a hot issue and a hotly contested one. (I may return to this in another column.) Brenner called my attention to the cases of David Tenenbaum and Adam Ciralsky, both of whom were targeted as pro-Israel and/or as observant Jews.
In 1997, Tenenbaum was wrongfully accused of being an Israeli spy. According to the Defense Department’s own report, Tenenbaum was specifically targeted because he was an observant Orthodox Jew: “It was well known that Mr. Tenenbaum was Jewish, lived his religious beliefs and by his actions appeared to have a close affinity for Israel,” the report said. “We believe that Mr. Tenenbaum was subjected to unusual and unwelcome scrutiny because of his faith and ethnic background, a practice that would undoubtedly fit a definition of discrimination.” The 62-page report added: “Mr. Tenenbaum experienced religious discrimination when his Judaism was weighed as a significant factor in the decision to submit him for an increase in his security clearance.” The investigation failed to turn up any evidence against Tenenbaum.
The report also explains that one of the reasons Tenenbaum was hired in the first place was because he speaks Hebrew—obviously another Middle Eastern language.
Here’s another example of the kind of racial (and/or racist) profiling I’m talking about. In 1999, Adam Ciralsky was placed on unpaid leave because he had contacts with Israelis. His “ties” to Israel included supporting Jewish causes like the United Jewish Appeal and buying Israel bonds. Eleven years later, Ciralsky’s lawsuit still has not been resolved.
One of the CIA documents accusing Ciralsky said: “I think that it is important that he state openly [that] he and his family support…the Likud Party,” one document says. “He may simply be withholding on this issue, because it paints him and his family as extreme supporters of Israel’s hard-liners in the Likud Party, and he wishes to avoid being seen as such a lover of Israel.” Another accused him of having a “wealthy daddy” who supports Israeli causes.
Are we dealing with Judeophobia? If so, why have we heard so much more about alleged Islamophobia?
According to one report, despite a shortage of Arabic translators, the FBI turned down applications for jobs from nearly 100 Arabic-speaking Jews in New York after 9/11. Translation: Jews need not apply, Jews have dual loyalty. However, Arab Muslims are not seen as suspect. This remains true despite the many instances of Arabic-speaking Muslims who have attacked America and American interests.
An anonymous source just wrote to tell me the following:
“Our son became an officer in the U.S. Navy in August of 2009 and was immediately denied any ‘top secret’ clearance following our making aliyah to Israel at the end of that same year. He was informed that the CIA considered our living here a potential security risk and that Israel had not only stolen U.S. secrets but had sold them to other countries including some not so friendly to the United States. Then our daughter’s husband, who has been a Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy for many years, was stripped of his ‘top secret’ clearance for the same reason, which resulted in a loss of pay and a disruption in his workload. Needless to say, none of us in the family are happy about the situation and the lies upon which these actions were based.”
Where are the liberals, where are the righteous Christians on Pollard? According to one source:
“In 1998 the late Arthur Schlesinger spoke at Toronto’s Holy Blossom Temple where you spoke and where we first met. After going on for an hour pleading for the release of the Burmese woman human rights leader who at the time was under house arrest, I asked from the floor of the main sanctuary, where he spoke to an audience of about a thousand, if he would similarly campaign for the release of Jonathan Pollard. Schlesinger replied: ‘oh no, after all, he was a spy.’ After I reminded him that the maximum sentence for spying without permission for a friendly ally was 2-5 years, and Pollard at the time was in jail for at least 10 years in 1998; Schlesinger replied from the stage: ‘The Supreme Court would not agree with you.’ Then I reminded Schlesinger that the Supreme Court never heard Pollard’s case; that this was a violated plea bargain, and if anything, the Supreme Court should have freed Pollard due to illegal procedure; Schlesinger, greatly embarrassed at being caught in a lie, asked for the next question.”
Where is the Jewish community on Pollard? I recently spoke to two different Jewish-American intelligence officials, both of whom are still angry at Pollard—not at anti-Semitism—for shadowing and stalking their own careers. What Pollard did makes it harder for them as Jews. Neither expressed sympathy or compassion for Pollard.
Tough Jews indeed.
In 1987, Pollard was allowed by prison authorities to break his plea deal when they allowed Wolf Blitzer (a Jewish journalist) in to interview him. Blitzer, who wrote for the Jerusalem Post and was a supporter of AIPAC published his interview in the Washington Post. The hubris of the media and the misguided ego of the convicted man knew no bounds. Together with the prison authorities they gave Judge Aubrey Robinson, Jr. the rope he needed with which to hang Pollard.
In 1996, Rabbi Avi Weiss compared the Jewish reaction to the Pollard affair to the Korean-American community’s reaction to the arrest of Robert C. Kim, also a Navy intelligence analyst, on charges of spying for South Korea:
“The American Jewish defense agencies could learn a simple lesson from these Korean-Americans. Don’t be afraid. The argument that they have no responsibility to be involved with Pollard since the case is not a Jewish issue and does not evidence anti-Semitism is absurd. Korean Americans became involved with Kim despite the fact that there are no allegations of anti-Korean sentiment in Kim’s accusations.”
In 1998, Abe Foxman of the ADL wrote about Pollard in the Israeli newspaper Yediot Aharonot. ‘His blood is not on our hands, but on his own.”
According to one of my informants,
“Ten years ago I interviewed Malcolm Hoenlein in Toronto and the first topic I brought up was that of Jonathan Pollard. He agreed that the sentence was ‘unjust.’ I asked if there should be a big Jewish march on the White House asking for his release, just like blacks successfully marched on the White House asking for the release of Bobby Seale and Huey Newton. Hoenlein replied by saying that mass marches are not the Jewish way. He urged ‘quiet diplomacy!’ Esther Pollard called me shortly afterwards and told me that this remark was typical of Hoenlein and other US Jewish leaders. (The Canadian Jewish leaders, especially Frank Dimant of B’nai Brith, have much more Koiach.)”
Over the years, first, orthodox Jewish rabbis and then slowly, cautiously, nervously, large Jewish organizations, began to call for Pollard’s release and pardon. Recently, the Conference of Presidents has done so as have other large Jewish-American organizations. Over the years, Israeli Prime Ministers Rabin, Netanyahu, and Olmert have requested that Pollard be pardoned. Reagan (two terms), Bush, Clinton (two terms), and Bush Jr. (two terms) have all refused to do so.
Does Pollard stand a better chance under President Obama?