Wednesday, April 30th, 2008
The recent arrest of an Israeli spy, Ben-Ami Kadish, brings Jonathan Pollard to mind, and one of the weakest, most infuriating arguments on Pollard’s behalf: “He spied for a friendly nation,” Israel.
As DeGaulle once said, nations don’t have friends, they only have interests.
There is no such thing in any legal system – halachic, Israeli or American – allowing for greater leniency for crimes committed against a friend. Most murders are committed by someone who knows you, ostensibly a friend, not a stranger. Many murders are even committed by “a lover.” Is that better? If I steal my friend’s wallet, is that better than if I steal my enemy’s wallet? If anything, it is more indecent to hurt and steal from a friend, not less.
Another thing for Pollard defenders to keep in mind when debating his sentence is the fact that you, dear defender, have no idea exactly what Pollard stole, how much he stole, where that information ended up, or the magnitude of the damage.
There is no leniency for “friendly flag” spying because all governments presume that once a spy steals and sells secrets, those secrets are thoroughly compromised, public information, known to friend and foe alike. There have often been times when enemy governments have found it convenient to utilize a spy with a “friendly” passport.
The idea that spying or criminal activity by a “friendly flag” deserves a break is something that is considered very clever at Shabbos tables and very naïve anywhere else.
Just because Pollard started off spying for Israel, and most Jews think Pollard was spying only for Israel, a new report from the Department of Defense, "Changes in Espionage by Americans: 1947-2007,” lists China, on Page 108, as a beneficiary, alongside Israel, of Pollard’s espionage.
Are Pollard’s defenders now going to say that spying for China is spying “for a friend,” a harmless Zionist prank? Israel has interests, and apparently those interests included sharing U.S. defense secrets, stolen by Pollard, with China.
In the season of Passover, here’s a more spiritual, even a mystical, indictment of Pollard: When the Jews were slaves in Egypt, and it was time for the Ten Plagues, God told Moses to have Aaron, not Moses, be the one to turn the Nile into blood. It would be spiritually indecent for Moses, whose life was saved by the Nile, to lift his hand against the river that saved him, even when the purpose was as noble and undeniable as freeing Israelites from the most brutal oppression.
Aaron, not Moses, was even the agent for the second and third plagues, frogs and kinim (gnats) that were also considered river-based plagues.
For American Jews from immigrant families, such as Pollard’s, the United States was our Nile. It took us in and saved us when Jews were oppressed in the Egypt of czarist Russia and Nazi Europe. If Israel needed something done and the only way it could get it done was espionage against the United States, let an Israeli “Aaron” do it, not an American Jew. If it was indecent for Moses, a child of the Nile, to lift his hand against the Nile, even when Jews were still slaves in Egypt, it is all the more indecent for an American Jew to lift his hand against the United States, the opposite of Egypt, the kindest country Jews have ever known.
All the more indecent when the beneficiary is a tyranny – China — oppressor of not only her own people but the people of Tibet, Darfur, and a threat to the United States, the only real and consistent “friend” Israel ever had.
If assisting China and going against the United States is really in Israel’s best interest, well, get Aaron to care, not me.