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July 29, 2013 12:30 pm

United States Presses Israel to Release Murderers But Won’t Release Pollard

avatar by Alan Dershowitz

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Jonathan Pollard.

The Israeli cabinet took a courageous and politically unpopular step by approving the release of 104 Palestinian prisoners, including many terrorists who had murdered Israeli babies, women, the elderly and other civilians.  According to Israeli intelligence some of these released murderers are likely to rejoin terrorist organizations and may kill again.  Relatives and friends of the victims have protested the decision to release these killers.  Yet Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his cabinet withstood these pressures and ordered their release.

The United States government had pressured the Israeli government to release these prisoners because the Palestinian Authority had made their release a condition to resuming peace talks.  The Israeli government, which had agreed to peace talks with no preconditions, submitted to the Palestinian precondition, and talks are now likely to go forward.

Prime Minister Netanyahu had reportedly asked the Obama Administration to make it easier for him to release Palestinian murderers by releasing Jonathan Pollard, who has already served 28 years for spying for Israel.  No American in history has ever come close to serving that long—indeed none has ever served a double digit sentence—for spying for an American ally.  Moreover, there were grave doubts about the lawfulness of Pollard’s sentence, as evidenced by the strong words of the dissenting judge who characterized the government’s breach of the plea agreement as a “fundamental miscarriage of justice requiring relief…”

But the Obama Administration slammed the door in Netanyahu’s face by categorically rejecting the request to commute Pollard’s sentence to the excessive term he has already served.  Despite this rebuff from the Obama Administration, Netanyahu agreed to release the prisoners.  Now the Palestinian Authority is asking for more prisoners to be released including some of the most dangerous terrorists on the face of the earth.  The United States will probably continue to put pressure on Israel to risk the lives of its own civilians by releasing more Palestinian terrorists in order to get the Palestinians to continue to negotiate.

The time has come—indeed it is well passed—for the United States to do the right thing with regard to Jonathan Pollard.  Pollard poses no continuing danger to America, since he has not had access to our secrets for nearly 30 years.  Unlike the Palestinian prisoners who are to be released, he has expressed regret over his actions and has sought forgiveness.  Moreover, his life sentence is excessive by any standard of justice and it violated the government’s plea bargain which promised, in exchange for Pollard’s guilty plea, not to seek life imprisonment.

Peace between Israel and the Palestinians requires the active involvement of the United States, as evidenced by Secretary John Kerry’s intensive efforts to bring the parties together.  But if peace is in our national interest, as the Obama Administration insists it is, and if peace requires sacrifice by both Israel and the Palestinians, then we too must be willing to give a little.  Releasing Jonathan Pollard after requiring him to serve 27 years, some in solitary confinement, is not much of a sacrifice to ask of the United States.  It is the least we can do to make it easier for Israel to make far greater sacrifices and take far more dangerous risks in order to secure peace.

The request to release Pollard now has bipartisan support in the United States and multi-partisan support in Israel.  Knesset members on all sides of the Israeli political spectrum have called for Pollard’s release as a way of encouraging the peace process.  “It’s a window of opportunity of good will to Israeli, who are not going through an easy time,” said Labor MK Nachman Shai.  “It would build up public support for negotiations and show that the US also understands the gravity of this historic moment.”

American political leaders from both sides of the aisle, as well as from all religious backgrounds, have called for Pollard’s release on compassionate grounds, based on the length of his sentence and his deteriorating physical condition.

Israel will go forward with negotiations regardless of whether Pollard is released, because the Israeli government wants a peaceful resolution that assures security.  But in the end the Israeli public will have to vote for any deal struck between Israeli and Palestinian negotiators, with the help of American negotiators.  The outcome of any such referendum will depend on whether Israeli voters believe that their security has been assured and that the United States continues to stand behind them.  Releasing Jonathan Pollard—as a gesture of good will, as a show of American support, and in the interests of justice and compassion—will go a long way toward encouraging the Israeli public to vote in favor of a peace agreement that requires great sacrifices on their part.

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  • david peer lev

    It is time that the White House and President Obama stop their hypocrisy
    And finally release Jonathan Pollard after 28 to long years.
    this was minor spying which was blown total out of proportion.
    he did not harm the national security of the U.S.

    Aren’t you ashamed! Where is your integrity, what are you made “‹”‹of stone
    Even the stones break! 28 years have passed …
    After spying on us, and half the world that’s ok?
    Well what you did is over now, also what Jonathan did is over.

    Finish with the shame and humiliation of every Jew in the world you are degrading
    While you do not release Pollard.

    Release Pollard while you can Mr president!

  • marc cepeci


    Atty. John J. Loftus
    4488 Elkcam Blvd St.
    Petersburg, FL 33705

    Dear President Obama,

    I am a former federal prosecutor with Q/Cosmic/code word clearances. I have personally visited Jonathan Pollard in prison several times and am intimately familiar with his case, including the classified issues. I am convinced beyond any reasonable doubt that he is truly remorseful for what he has done, and deserves to be pardoned, or in the alternative, to have his sentence commuted to time served.

    No comparable prisoner in American history has received a sentence of this magnitude. Quite frankly, Pollard was a handy receptacle for shifting blame from the intelligence community. As I discovered, Pollard could not possible have leaked our Soviet Humint assets as he lacked the necessary blue stripe security clearance to even gain access to their identities.

    Finally, the first damage assessment on Pollard showed that our national security suffered minimal, if any, damage from Pollard’s disclosure to Israel. The second damage assessment, prepared with the assistance of Soviet spy Aldridge Ames, intentionally sought to shift blame towards Pollard and away from Ames. The “blame Pollard” mantra did substantial damage to our national security as it allowed Ames and his co-spy at the FBI to continue funneling our secrets to the Soviets for several more years.

    It is not necessary to assign blame to one agency or another for the Pollard sentencing debacle. It is necessary and just to do the right thing.


    John J. Loftus
    Formerly GS-13 Supervisory

    Trial Attorney Office of Special Investigations,

    Criminal Division Headquarters,
    US Department of Justice, Washington DC

  • Sara Bedein

    There is nothing “courageous” about releasing atrocious murderers who were sentenced to multiple life-sentences and who swear to continue murdering innocent Jews just so the Palestinians – who have everything to gain – will “agree” to sit down at the negotiating table. This is pure insanity – a knife in the hearts of hundreds of grieving families, whose lives were destroyed forever. Israel has proven how spineless they are by releasing again and again murderers as “good will gestures” to Palestinians who have not budged an inch in their demands of all of historical Biblical Israel where they will not allow any Jew to live and at the same time demanding that generations of Palestinains should be allowed to flood Israel pre 1967 borders and return to homes and lands that are no longer there so that Israel between its 1.5 million Arab population should have another 5 million murderous Arabs living in their midst thus ending the Jewish state once and for all. Evil and insanity. No other words for it.

  • John Friend

    Pollard should have been executed a long time ago.

  • Pollard should have got the same treatment as the Rosenbergs: a seat on Old Sparky, other scum beware.

  • How about a petition to release Pollard? will do it .. who’s game to start it?


    Americans scream daily for the closing of Guanatanamo, where real terrorists are still held prisoner. Yet Americans appear blind and indifferent to the legitimate plight of Jonathan Pollard. President after President leaves Jonathan Pollard to rot in jail. On first taking office President Obama could have won much Israeli respect and good will, had he freed Jonathan Pollard as his overture towards Israel. Instead President Obama took a belligerent attitude towards Israel.

    Today, despite the appearance of an improvement in the relationship between Israel and the White House, one must wonder, if perhaps Israel is presently being offered “a deal it can’t refuse”. The decision of the EU only two-weeks ago to sanction Israeli activity in Judea-Samaria seems too conveniently timed and looks to be a backdrop against which Secretary of State John Kerry may appear to look moderate towards Israel. That Europe has now also decided to designate Hezbollah as a terrorist group is a welcome, long overdue decision that has yet to yield real actions and consequences and does not mitigate the inappropriate and likely illegal decision to sanction Israeli activity in Judea-Samaria. In the spirit of Perry Mason it may be said that in sanctioning Israeli activity in Judea-Samaria, the EU decision is “premature, prejudicial, incompetent, and assumes facts not in evidence”; the most important fact not in evidence is that there is no existing “State of Palestine” [except in the minds of those, who don’t fully and completely acknowledge Israel’s existential right, and on paper in the UNGA, ICJ, and EU].

    • anthony c abela

      That is what is called ” The American psyche” Only the Americans have this perception that what they do is the right thing, but not applicable to any one else. In short ” do what I say not what I do”, go figure.

    • Davey

      You are joking, yes? Sanctions against Israel are perhaps illegal? How about the sanctions against South Africa? Or the Jewish led Boycott of Germany in 1933-34? Were these illegal?

      Pollard is just the most extreme instance of sayanim active in the US and elsewhere on behalf of a foreign state. While some of this activity is legal in the US, some of it is not: A Congressman who votes Israel’s interests over American interests may be guilty of breach of office or fiduciary breach. Pollard is a spy and there is no reason why he should ever go free unless the US government, in its wisdom, should not wish to discourage treason!

  • Not only is it a sad day for Jews in Israel and around the world, but it is shameful and humiliating.

    To allow the lying betrayal of the obama administration to continue unabated, makes us Jews, the laughing stock of the world.

    And rightly so, we deserve nothing better.

  • Shimon

    Netanyahu made the wrong request so to see because Pollard is Jewish. There is no reason what so ever to keep him imprisoned. He should have asked Obama to release the Guantanamo Bay prisoners. Or Dzhokar Tsarnaev in order to get a nicer American society.

  • Larry Levine

    Albert Einstein once gave a definition of insanity by saying “It’s doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results.”

  • anthony C Abela

    Who the hell does this muslim idiot of an American president think he is?. Nethanjahu should have told him where to go. I cannot understand this double faced American LIAR. Both him and his bitch of a wife think that anyone who is not black is second class citizen. Pox on both their houses.

    • Roux

      You are not well…….get help!

  • Coley

    He should be released.


  • Jerry G

    Dershowitz will and always will be a diehard leftist,despite his support of Israel. Which means that his opinions on the Palestinian-Israel relationship are worthless. They are not based on facts or realism but wishful thinking which gets you no place. The Arabs have made it abundantly clear that they want the annihilation of the Jews, not peace with them. Does Dershowitz have to be reminded of the numerous overly generous offers made to the Palestinians which were rejected without even a discussion?

    • Mordechai

      Your comments about Alan Dershowitz are out of place as it relates to the articlae your commenting on, Alan is simply pointing out the standard in which Israel and Jews in General are held are different then other people, to that point one should welcome a great mind and advocate of Justice, in the article above Alan is stating the facts of the events leading up to negotiations, while I believe the chance negotiations could lead to any type of peace is very slim, I am not privy to the real reasons Israeli leadership agreed to enter into them with preconditions, there is more happening then meets the eye Bibi is not naïve, its seems Israel, US are buying time with an end game in mind.

      • Vigilante

        I pray that you are correct re “more here than meets the eye”.
        However, it is extraordinarily difficult to imagine a scenario, where the release of over a hundred vicious murderous terrorists will not lead to further Israeli bloodshed. These are for the most part, murderers of multiple Israeli civilians, including women children and the elderly. Are they going to implant a GPS in their brains so that their actions can be tracked in order to protect the Israeli citizens?

        He who saves a life saves the world, he who takes a life destroys the world.

        As for the big O, there are those who make the case that he is becoming more and more like a fuhrer. Every day an new “executive order”, bypassing congress, and now he is resorting to “executive actions” that few have heard of, in order to keep the number of “executiove orders” optically, deceptively low.
        There is no congress, the erh “leader” “monarch “fuhrer” pick your own word as it appears or appeals to you, he has run amok.
        And the sheeple say nothing.

        What will be Netanyahu’s response, when the first of these newly released terrorists blows up a civilian bus????? I wish i did not have to ask that question. Why does THE BIG O NOT OPEN ONE OF MAJOR FEDERAL PRISONS, AND RELEASE 104 MURDERERS? aS A COMPASSIONATE SHOW OF SOIDARITY?

    • If you think Dershowitz’s opinions on the Palestinian-Israel relationship are worthless, I have to wonder how you form your ideas. Dershowitz, like myself, does not belong to the far left (which is where the problems come from) but what I (as a British writer) would call the liberal left. Have you read any of Dershowitz’s books? I have always found them intelligent and often wise. He talks more sense on the issues than almost anyone else. To call his careful analyses, based on his reading of international law, ‘worthless’ is to go much too far. You hinder discussion. You come across as an extremist, possibly a far right extremist. And you offer nothing that would take us further. Please do not make comments if they add up to nothing.

  • Peni Elika

    How many times do I have to say this, but that’s ok!. I will continue to throw this at anyone’s faces cos its damn true.

    No matter what the palestinian says, the UN or any American administrations says……..God has the final say! and He will. Who does obama think hes fooling?, him and abbas should be hung by their balls.

  • Paul Winter

    Since it is widely rumoured that Alan Dershowitz knows a thing or two about the law, why hasn’t he raised the fact that Jonathan Pollard was sentenced on the basis of secret evidence and that his disproportionately long incarceration is cruel and unusual. If I recall a few bits about the US constitution, his sentencing and conditions of jailing arguably contravene the constitution, but then again, he is only a Jew and the US’s Jewish leadership is too busy avoiding the Israel firster canard to act in the interests of justice.

  • Herman Friedl

    For the PA to demand the release of murderers makes it an untrustworthy negotiation partner. There is nothing to talk about. What kind of peace can be expected to emerge from such a foul deal?

  • Efram Paul

    What do you expect from the first terrorist and anti-Semite in chief?

  • Ephraim

    Releasing 104 terrorists is courageous? For a supposedly intelligent person, this is not courageous it is weak , stupid and will result in more Jewish blood and show Arabs that Jews are weak. Courageous. Ridiculous. Travesty yes. Courageous it is not.

    • DJ

      Absolutely correct. A sad day for the Jewish people and for those real Christians who love the Jewish people.

  • mika

    Netanyahu is a foreign agent and a CFR (Council on Foreign Relations) stooge. Netanyahu “opened” Israel’s market to the stasi fascist multinationals and has made Israelis complete slaves and debt peons to the fascist banksters. Netanyahu has betrayed and will betray Israel time and time again. That is the reason he was placed where he was placed by his US masters. It was what he was groomed to do.

    Barry Chamish on the political US sponsorship of Netanyahu:

    • Scott Mollett

      The facist bankers are jews and they founded Israel. You are a moron. Pollard should have rode the lightning decades ago. He is an American traitor not a spy. What we do with traitors is none of the jews business.

  • Otto Schiff

    The release of murderers and the continuous imprisonment of Pollard is such a miscarriage of justice it staggeres the mind.This president is getting very poor advice.

    • Efram Paul

      No, this president has very biased and malevolent ideas.

  • gary

    The Jewish world and all supporters Of Israel and a true peace in middle east in the case of these negotiations MUST send a message to Bibi that under no circumstances do we as supporters of the jewish state of Israel support the release of murderous terrorists as a precondition for talks without the release of Johnathon Pollard as a pre condition for Israel coming to the negotiations table
    We in the diaspora must voice our concern and opposition by sending emails and flooding Bibi s inbox with no Pollard no negotiation

    Or if someone knows how to set up facebook and quickly have it go viral to voice concern

    • Sonia Willats

      It makes NO SENSE to support the release of murderers- not even ONE! Any rational person must ask themselves HOW ANY NEGOTIATIONS THAT START ON SUCH A SKEWED BASIS CAN HAVE A BALANCED AND HARMONIOUS OUTCOME (ignoring PA and Hamas lack of desire for peace in the first place, which is also an issue.) IT IS LIKE STARTING A MARRIAGE WITH THE BRIDE GIVING UP ALL SENSE OF EXPECTION OF JUSTICE IN THE MARRIAGE – WHAT KIND OF MARRIAGE CAN RESULT?


      WITHOUT DOUBT, Jonathan Pollard poses no threat to America – he is imprisoned as a humiliation to Israel and an example, or scapegoat. BUT EVEN THE RELEASE OF J POLLARD WOULD NOT JUSTIFY THE RELEASE OF MURDERERS, NOR WOULD IT GIVE CREDIBILITY TO AMERICA AS A BONA FIDE AND OBJECTIVE NEGOTATOR.

      Anyone who had any hopes for these peace talks should be warned that a person dispensing ‘good’ medicine, who will not swallow it himself, is dispensing poison.

      I respect PM Netanyahu with all my heart. He has been treated with disrespect (the stick) & then courtesy (the carrot) to herd him to the peace talk table. He loves Israel with all his heart. But he needs to look to the G-d of Israel and not to America for salvation.

  • Melody

    Then why,Mr. Dershowitz, did you add your name to that document endorsing “peace talks” when you knew it meant releasing murderous terrorists? I lost much respect fir you then.

  • Chaim F

    The author refers to the cowardly and irresponsible release of murderers as “courageous.” It seems he has lost his judgment and moral balance. Releasing murderers to murder again delegitimizes the government. If it can’t provide security for its citizens, how much more so if it encourages and facilitates the absence of security, it shouldn’t rule and should be subject to overthrow by super-legal means.

    • Michael Garfinkel

      If Dershowitz had a “moral compass”, he would have concluded this sentence differently: “Yet Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his cabinet withstood these pressures and ordered their (the murderers) release.” He should have added – to their eternal shame and disgrace.

      Here again are my recent remarks about this:

      “In 1942, when the Germans insisted on deporting 20,000 children from the Lodz Ghetto to death camps, “King Chaim” Rumkowski, the Judenälteste – Jewish head of the Lodz ghetto, gave his most infamous speech, “Give Me Your Children.” The deportation, or Aktion, was successful.

      Netanyahu doesn’t know it, but he was quoting Rumkowski when he said “there are moments in which tough decisions must be made for the good of the country and this is one of those moments.”

      Which begs the question – is the release of the murderers of Jewish children that much different from the deportation of living children to be murdered?

      Indeed, can the state of Israel survive such profound dishonor?

  • Sandra Carson

    Excellent. Very embarrassing for me. I never sent the greeting card to him, which sits patiently waiting. How easily we replace lesser issues consuming our daily responsibilities when greater matters demand attention. Get that card out. (Pssst……. Where are our illustrious – not – political operatives of Hebrew descent holding political office? I could do lots more, but will spare the mush-heads.)