2/22/2007

Free Pollard - But Please no Mi-Sheberach

This past Shabbat, during the mi-sheberach for ne'edrei Tzaha"l (missing and captive Israeli soldiers), I heard a new name on the list - Jonathan Pollard.

Now don't get me wrong. I'd love to see the guy released as much as the next guy. He has definitely paying a steep price for his actions, and a good case can be made that he has been treated incredibly unfairly. We civilians don't really have all of the facts, but historical comparisons, procedural anomalies, and the involvement of people like Caspar Weinberger suggest that there's something fishy going on.

But please, please don't put him in the same category as the ne'edarim. At the end of the day, we know exactly where Pollard is, we know that he's being taken care of, gets medical care, and can speak to his wife. He can even get divorced and remarried. He had a trial by jury. He even plead guilty. Nobody disputes that he broke the law and was imprisoned for it. He is not 'missing' and is not a 'captive'. He's a felon.

As you may remember, the ne'edarim are something I think about a lot. I spoke about them at my youngest's brit milah. Each, at the time of his capture, was a young man. Ron Arad's wife remains an agunah. The Katzes, Baumols, and Feldmans have been searching for their sons, trying to find out if they are alive or dead, trying to find any leverage that might secure their release, for almost 25 years.

I get the sense that Pollard is back in the news simply because the U.S. has another lame-duck President who will be lobbied hard to pardon various lawbreakers as the end of his term nears. It happened 8 years ago, and it's happening now. But lobbying is one thing, liturgy is another. Let's keep them separate.

With this as precedent, I can see some Barry Chamish fan insisting that we add Yigal Amir to the list. I shudder to think about him in the same sentence as Yehuda Katz (though both, like me, were KBY students, and Yehuda Katz technically still is; his closet, like Babe Ruth's locker, has never been cleaned out).
May the Holy One, Blessed be He, show them mercy, increase their strength, remove their pain and send them a recovery of body and recovery of spirit, may He return them to the bosom of their families swiftly and soon. Now let us respond: Amen.
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