Jonathan Pollard’s Arrival in Israel Gets the AP Treatment

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Jonathan Pollard, the ex-US Navy analyst, who received a life sentence for passing secrets on to Israel, arrived in Israel early this morning.

Without getting in to all the politics around his crime and release, Pollard by far received the longest sentence in U.S. history for spying for a friendly government (and even longer than received by some who spied for enemy governments). He paid the price, and then some.

I was not even going to write anything about his arrival in Israel; that is, until I saw this AP report on it.



Jonathan Pollard, who spent 30 years in U.S. prison for spying for Israel, arrived in Israel early Wednesday with his wife, triumphantly kissing the ground as he disembarked from the aircraft in the culmination of a decades-long affair that had long strained relations between the two close allies.

“We are ecstatic to be home at last after 35 years,” Pollard said as he was greeted at Israel’s international airport by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

“Triumphantly” implies he sees himself as some kind of victor. But he was clearly just overjoyed that he finally reached Israel, the place he wants to live after spending so many decades in prison. Most Jews who arrive in Israel for the first time, in fact, kiss the ground. I would have thought a word like “emotionally” or even “jubilantly” – which expresses great happiness – would have been more appropriate.

Speaking of the “j” word, reporter Josef Federman actually then uses it the very next paragraph

 The Israeli leader jubilantly presented Pollard and his wife Esther with Israeli ID cards, granting them citizenship.

“You’re home,” Netanyahu said, reciting a Hebrew blessing of thanks. “What a moment. What a moment.”

I think here, the word is an overstatement

The entire event – for want of a better word – was early in the morning (when it was still dark out), with very little fanfare. This was not exactly a full-scale heroes welcome, and PM Netanyahu, although visibly pleased, was not exactly “jubilant.”

I’d argue if you were envisioning what occurred just based on this report, it would look a lot different to this footage.

Federman then writes about Pollard’s crime

Pollard was given a life sentence and U.S. defense and intelligence officials consistently argued against his release. But after serving 30 years in federal prison, he was released on Nov. 20, 2015, and placed on a five-year parole period that ended in November. That cleared the way for him to leave the U.S.

This is also misleading and seems meant to paint Pollard’s release as unconscionable.

By mentioning that “U.S. defense and intelligence officials consistently argued against his release,” Federman makes a one-sided case for Pollard’s continued imprisonment. No mention of what I mentioned earlier, namely that Pollard by far received the longest sentence in U.S. history for spying for a friendly government, and even longer than received by some who spied for enemy governments.

Then Federman cannot resist this dig at both Trump and Netanyahu.

Pollard’s release was the latest in a long line of diplomatic gifts given to Netanyahu by President Donald Trump. His arrival in Israel gives the embattled Netanyahu a welcome boost as he fights for reelection in March 23 parliamentary elections.

Whatever you feel about both leaders, this was completely unnecessary. Many Jewish organizations have been campaigning for decades for Pollard’s release. And to paint this, as well as other moves by the Trump administration, as mere “gifts” – connoting they have no merit in themselves and were solely done to prop up PM Netanyahu – is simply offensive.

Hat tip: Aryeh

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A law school graduate, David Lange transitioned from work in the oil and hi-tech industries into fulltime Israel advocacy. He is a respected commentator and Middle East analyst who has often been cited by the mainstream media