Editorials are posted and archived on JN Online:
here's merit in Detroit Jewry hosting state
lawmakers on periodic trips to Israel as
long as the impact of the program contin-
ues to be positive and significant.
At their core, the trips let legislators experience the
history, beauty, diversity and turmoil of the Middle
East. They open windows on why the Jewish state is
such a strategic friend of America in general and
Michigan Jews in particular. The trips also spotlight
pressing social issues for Jews like education, ecu-
menism and eldercare.
The trips are gambles, but ones that can pay divi-
Trip-goers will reveal much about their newfound
understanding of Israel — its culture, its
politics, its investment potential — by how
they vote and build communal relation-
This year's trip is scheduled for Aug. 28-Sept. 4.
The Jewish Community Council of Metropolitan
Detroit, which is a lobbyist of sorts, will take five
key Lansing players: House Speaker Rick Johnson,
R-LeRoy; Reps. Marc Shulman, R-West Bloomfield,
and Chris Kolb, D-Ann Arbor; and Sens. Jason
Allen, R-Traverse City, and Buzz Thomas III, D-
Detroit. Each will pay $500 toward the privately
subsidized cost of about $2,700 per person.
The group will visit our Partnership 2000 region
in the Central Galilee, where we've built educational,
economic and social ties. And it will see the political
and cultural dynamics that influence the fragile U.S.-
backed road map for peace.
The group also will be exposed to the Jewish com-
munity's commitment to human and social services
in Israel as well as Michigan. The Jewish community
has reinforced that commitment through a penchant
political activism. Jewish agencies that receive state
funding include JVS, Jewish Family Service, Jewish
Apartments and Services, Jewish Home and Aging
Services, JARC and Kadima.
With Michigan a term-limited
state, some legislators move on to
Congress; their knowing Israel's
role as an American ally before they
reach Washington is a plus.
In the end, it's all in how you
measure the impact.
Certainly, lawmakers should hear
their conscience and constituency
But those who accept a good-faith
subsidy from the Jewish communi-
ty to go to Israel also should, at
minimum, show heightened sensi-
tivity to interests and initiatives
important to us.
U.S. Sen. Debbie
Stabenow, D-Mich., and
Detroit Mayor Kwame
Kilpatrick joined the first
JCCouncil-sponsored state legisla-
tors trip to Israel when they were in
the Michigan House.
Is NOr VERB
Stabenow, elected to the U.S.
Senate thanks in part to broad
Jewish support, is a congressional
friend of Israel and supportive of
Jewish causes. Independent of her
mentor, Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich.,
Stabenow has spoken up steadfastly
in support of Israel's right to safe,
Kilpatrick has considerable
Jewish support. Many of his top
contributors are Jewish profession-
als who work or invest in the city
and yearn for it to be the next great urban turn-
caring the city's youth and for assuring clean and safe
around. The mayor was quick to embrace JVS' role
in building skills for the jobless. And in first-year
The state legislators trip to Israel resonates as long
addresses to at least two large and receptive Jewish
as the potential for dividends remains strong under
audiences, he was eager to share his vision for edu-
the glare of scrutiny by Detroit Jewry ❑
A Review For Pollard
but the propriety of the legal process, something
that should be decided by an impartial court rather
than by political or geopolitical pressures.
But the hearing comes at a time of continuing
American concern about national security and
increasing governmental use of secret courtroom
processes in the wake of 9-11 and the wars in
Afghanistan and Iraq. However much
Pollard's lawyers try to focus on what
they think are clear issues of legal
process, Judge Hogan can hardly be
unaware of these external concerns.
On the other hand, he is only being asked to
consider two questions: Did a secret and possibly
misleading memo from then-Defense Secretary
Caspar Weinberger improperly influence the late
trial judge, Aubrey Robinson, and was the failure
to appeal the life sentence an inexcusable lapse by
the lawyer then representing Pollard?
The judge is not being asked to decide how seri-
ously Pollard damaged American intelligence
pportunities, it is said, do not always arrive
at opportune moments. Surely that is the
case for Jonathan Pollard, serving a life
sentence on his conviction 16 years ago of
spying for Israel.
On Tuesday, Sept. 2, his lawyers will get
a brief chance to convince a federal judge
that the sentence was unjust, based on
fraudulent secret evidence and in violation of the
plea bargain Pollard had struck with federal prosecu-
The hour-long session before U.S. District Court
Judge Thomas Hogan in Washington, D.C. —
Pollard's first substantial court review of how he was
treated in his March 1987 sentencing — is a totally
appropriate step in this long-running case that has
bedeviled U.S.-Israeli relations for nearly two
decades. The issue is not his guilt, which he admits,
efforts by selling to Israel key documents such as a
manual on U.S. radio surveillance procedures or
whether Pollard's mercenary motives and lack of
contrition 16 years ago were grounds for breaking
the plea bargain.
The other external plus for Pollard is the vast
strengthening in U.S. government support for Israel
across the board. The Bush administration has made
no secret of its admiration for the Jewish state's firm
stance in dealing with Palestinian terrorism, and
there is little doubt that, despite Israel's nominal
absence from the coalition, the war in Iraq was
waged with copious use of shared Mossad intelli-
gence about the strength and placement of Saddam
Hussein's forces. That fact will not be lost on Judge
Hogan, even though it is not part of the formal
judicial record he is being asked to review.
The bottom line is that Pollard is being afforded a
decent opportunity to make a legal case for not hav-
ing to spend the rest of his life in prison in America.
His lawyers should make the most of it.