Convicted spy Jonathan Pollard: Jewish Americans should spy for Israel
Jonathan Pollard, the U.S. naval intelligence analyst who spied for Israel, was sentenced to life in prison. He was released after serving 30 years, and last year emigrated to Israel, which he said was his real “home.” He received a hero’s welcome and was met at the airport by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. He arrived on a private plane provided by the late casino mogul Sheldon Adelson. Adelson once said that he regretted serving in the U.S. Army and wished he had served in the Israeli military instead.
In a wide-ranging interview with the Israeli newspaper Israel Hayom (March 25, 2021), Pollard said he had no regrets for what he had done. A native of Galveston, Texas, Pollard said he always viewed Israel as his real “home.” He said that Jewish Americans were “deluded” if they thought of America as home. He went so far as to say that he would counsel a young American Jew working in a security agency to spy for Israel as he did. He said:
“I’d tell him, not doing anything is unacceptable…You have to make a decision whether your concern for Israel and loyalty to Israel, loyalty to your fellow Jews, is more important than your life.”
Pollard said he grew up in a family committed to Zionism and believed in the Zionist philosophy which holds that Israel is the “homeland” of all Jews and that those who live outside of Israel are in “exile.” In his interview, Pollard said that the synagogue he attended had two flags on its pulpit, that of Israel and that of the United States. He says he always embraced the Zionist view that Israel was really “home.”
Consider how Zionism has substituted Israel for God as the central focus of Judaism.
At the Park Avenue synagogue, a prominent synagogue in New York City, this year’s Yom Kippur service featured the rabbi offering a mini-sermon about his son’s proud service in the Israel Defense Forces, saying it shows Israel is the true Jewish home. He then had the virtual synagogue stand for Israel’s national anthem. Israel clearly appeared to be the object of worship.
Mondoweiss (Oct. 5, 2020) reported:
“Rabbi Neil Zuckerman breaks into the liturgy to explain the meaning of the Jewish exile. Then he tells of his son joining the Israeli army. ‘because of our sins we were exiled from the land, the liturgy says. Jews have always been able to survive the pain and trauma of exile by never looking away, by always orienting ourselves toward the land of Israel, by facing home.”
Zionism is a 19th-century political philosophy, originating in Eastern and Central Europe, and has always been a minority view among American Jews, who have never thought that they were in “exile.” In 1841, at the dedication of America’s first Reform synagogue in Charleston, South Carolina, Rabbi Gustav Poznanski told the congregation,
“This country is our Palestine, this city our Jerusalem, this house of God our temple.” In 1897, the Central Conference of American Rabbis adopted a resolution disapproving of any attempt to establish a Jewish state. The resolution declared, “Zion was a precious possession of the past…as such it is a holy memory, but it is not our hope of the future. America is our Zion.”
In 1929, Orthodox Rabbi Aaron David Tamares wrote that the very notion of a sovereign Jewish state as a spiritual center was “a contradiction to Judaism’s ultimate purpose.” He noted that
“Judaism at root is not some religious concentration which may be localized or situated in a single territory. Neither is Judaism a ‘nationality,’ in the sense of modern nationalism, fit to be woven into the three-foldedness of ‘homeland, army and heroic songs.’ No, Judaism is Torah, ethics and exaltation of spirit. If Judaism is truly Torah, then it cannot be reduced to the confines of any territory. For as Scripture said of Torah, ‘Its measure is greater than the earth.”
One of the leading Jewish theologians and philosophers of the 20th century, Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, who marched with the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. for civil rights for all people, said, “Judaism is not a religion of space and does not worship the soil. So, too, the State of Israel is not the climax of Jewish history, but a test of the integrity of the Jewish people and the competence of Israel.”
In 1938, Albert Einstein warned an audience of Zionist activists against the temptation to create a state imbued with “a narrow nationalism within our own ranks against which we have already had to fight strongly even without a Jewish state.”
Professor Yakov Rabkin of the University of Montreal, an Orthodox Jew, shows that Zionism was conceived as a clear break between Judaism and the Jewish religious tradition in his book “What Is Modern Israel
In his view, it must be seen in the context of European ethnic nationalism, colonial expansion, and geopolitical interests rather than an incarnation of Biblical prophecies or a culmination of Jewish history.
The religious idea of a Jewish return to Palestine had nothing to do with the political enterprise of Zionism.
“Jewish tradition,” writes Rabkin, “holds that the idea of return must be part of a messianic project rather than the human initiative of migration to the Holy Land…There was little room for Jewish tradition in the Zionist scheme…It is not the physical geography of the Biblical land of Israel which is essential for Jews but the obligation to follow the commandments of the Torah.”
To the question of. whether Jews constitute “a people,” Yeshayahua Leibovitz, the Orthodox Jewish thinker and Hebrew University professor, provides this assessment:
“The historical Jewish people was defined neither as a race, nor a people of this country or that, nor as a people that speaks the same language , but as the people of Torah Judaism and its commandments …”.
The words were spoken by Rabbi Saadia Gaon (882-942) more than a thousand years ago:
“Our nation exists only within the Torah’ have not only normative but also an empirical meeting. They testified to a historical reality whose power could be felt up until the 19th century. It was then that the fracture which has not ceased to widen with time first occurred: the fissure between Jewishness and Judaism.”
The early Zionists not only turned away from the Jewish religious tradition but, in their disregard for the indigenous population of Palestine, Jewish moral and ethical values as well.
In his book “Israel: A Colonial-Settler State,” the French Jewish historian Maxime Rodinson writes that,
“Wanting to create a purely Jewish or predominantly Jewish state in Arab Palestine in the 20th century could not help but lead to a colonial type situation and the development of a racist state of mind, and in the final analysis to a military confrontation.”
In reality, Judaism is a religion of universal values, not a nationality. Israel claims to be the “homeland” of all Jews. Jonathan Pollard believed this and refers to Israel as “home.” Because he had been hearing the Zionist message all his life and believed it, it caused him to engage in massive espionage.
But Israel’s claim to speak on behalf of all Jews is without any foundation. American Jews are American by nationality and Jews by religion, just as other Americans are Protestant, Catholic, or Muslim. Their homeland is the United States. Israel would do well to confine itself to speaking on behalf of its own citizens, as other countries have no difficulty doing.
Jonathan Pollard is where Zionism and the notion that American Jews are in “exile” in their own country can lead. It is time that Jewish organizations and rabbinical groups make clear that Jonathan Pollard is not the kind of role model they want to produce. If they do not, the younger generation of American Jews will find other outlets for their religious observance.
In the Bible, God showed His dismay at the Israelites’ worship of the Golden Calf.
The virtual worship of a foreign country, which Jonathan Pollard encountered, is an example of a similar embrace of idolatry. Pollard is, in many ways, a tragic victim of Zionism. Sadly, he is now encouraging others to follow in his footsteps, something neither America nor genuine Judaism can properly accept.