Jonathan Pollard’s incarceration is close to a national obsession in Israel, where he has gone from being a source of embarrassment to a cause célèbre.
His nearly 30 years of captivity is a sore point for many Israelis, who feel his sentence is disproportionately harsh for a man the U.S. convicted of spying for an ally, Israel.
In numerous interviews since his 1985 arrest, the dual U.S.-Israeli citizen has endeared himself to the Israeli public by acknowledging that he stole and copied classified Navy documents out of a feeling of affinity for Israel.
He has also stated his refusal to be released in exchange for any political concessions by Israel, including the relinquishment of territories to the Palestinians. Over time Israelis have come to see him as a misguided idealist, treated unfairly by a spiteful U.S.
The U.S. says he received tens of thousands of dollars from Israel for spying on the U.S.
Israel initially denied any knowledge of his actions, going so far as to turn him away from its embassy doors in Washington when he attempted to evade arrest. Since then, Israel has accepted responsibility for employing him as a covert agent and has apologized to the U.S.
In recent months, ahead of Mr. Pollard’s scheduled parole hearing in November, Israel has been rife with rumors that American officials would release him despite long-standing Central Intelligence Agency opposition, due to his unusually long sentence and precarious health.
It is incredible the way these Jews stick up for their own. They genuinely view themselves as a collective, unified race.