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December 29, 1989 - Image 50

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1989-12-29

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

LOOKING BACK

Jonathan Pollard, the American Jew arrested in
November, 1985, and later sentenced to life in prison for
spying on Israel's behalf, was seen as a hero in Israel
but his case raised the specter of dual loyalty among
American Jews.

Pollard Arrested
For Spying

I

n November, 1985, Jonathan Jay
Pollard, a 32 year old American Jew
working in Naval Intelligence in
Washington, D.C., was arrested,
charged with spying for Israel, set-
ting off a complex chain of events,
and emotions, in the U.S. and the Jewish
state.
"I was not intending to hurt the United
States," said Pollard, "but to help an ally.
What I did may benefit this country in
the long run."
Jewish hero or American traitor?
Even as Jews in this country debated
the Pollard case — a debate that inten-
sified when Pollard was sentenced to life
in prison 15 months after his arrest —
many in Israel took up his cause and col-
lected funds on his behalf.
American and Israeli Jewish leaders
staged a fierce public debate that called
into question the very nature of the Israel-
Diaspora relationship. Israeli scholar
Shlomo Avineri charged American Jewish
leaders with "cringing" for fear of charges
of dual loyalty; American Jewish leader
1d Mann responded that the Jewish reac-
tion in the U.S. "emanates from anger at
Israelis, and not from fear for their own
securities."
The discord reached the highest levels of
Jerusalem and Washington, with the ad-
ministration particularly angered over
Israel's seemingly cavalier attitude in pro-
moting the two men responsible for
Pollard's spying.
Observers said the cause of Israel suf-
fered a steep decline as a result of the
case, in which Pollard's wife, Anne, was
also jailed. She was released last month
after suffering from a serious stomach ail-
ment throughout her imprisonment.

50 FRIDAVRELEKIEB29,

Natan Sharansky went from a prison cell in the Soviet
Union to the Western Wall in Jerusalem in February
1986, and helped rekindle the Soviet Jewry movement in
America, marked by a huge rally in Washington in
December 1987.

Sharansky Freed,
Arrives In Israel

11)

efiant to the last, he zig-zagged
across a snow covered Berlin
bridge that cold morning in
February, 1986, because his cap-
tors had told him to walk in a
straight line.
As he crossed over between the two Ger-
manys, between slavery and freedom, the
world was watching, caught up in the
drama of one man's ten year struggle for
human dignity. Balding, thin, pale and
small, Anatoly Shcharansky (soon to call
himself Natan Sharansky) had become a
genuine Jewish hero and he was about to
receive a fitting welcome in the eternal
homeland of his dreams, in Israel.
His arrival sparked a spontaneous out-
pouring of affection for a man who had
defied the might of the USSR for the
right to live in the Jewish homeland. His
subsequent writings and lectures, in the
U.S. and Israel, helped rekindle protest ef-
forts on behalf of Soviet Jews,
culminating in one of American Jewry's
proudest moments: the huge rally in
Washington of more than 250,000 people
in December, 1987, urging Soviet leader
Gorbachev to open the gates of
emigration.
Less than two years later, for reasons
based more on economics and politics
than heightened morality, Gorbachev had
indeed opened the gates, causing both
great joy and confusion among Jews in
Israel and America. More than 60,000
Soviet Jews have emigrated this year — a
record — but the story of the 1990s may
very well be the effort to resettle the hun-
dreds of thousands of Soviet Jews ex-
pected to come to Israel in the next five
years.

President Reagan was accused of insensitivity, and
worse, when he visited an SS officer cemetery in Bit-
burg, Germany in May, 1985, despite protests from Jews
and others.

Reagan Visits
Bitburg Cemetery

merican Jews expressed anger,
disappointment and disbelief
when, in May, 1985, President
Reagan decided to lay a wreath
at the Bitburg cemetery during
his visit to Germany.
Even after Reagan gave in to intense
pressure and announced that he would
visit a Nazi concentration camp as well,
the outcry continued unabated.
Elie Wiesel, the writer and survivor who
the following year was awarded the Nobel
Peace Prize, spoke for millions when, in a
dramatic nationally televised Holocaust
ceremony from Washington, he pleaded
face to face with the President prior to
the trip not to visit Bitburg. "It is not
your place, Mr. President," he said.
Most disturbing was the President's
seeming failure to distinguish between the
millions of Jewish men, women and
children — martyrs reduced to ashes —
and the SS soldiers buried at Bitburg. He
equated them all as "victims" and
seemed, in so doing, to attempt to undo
history.

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