Pipes: Pollard Pardon? Not Now


pipesBy Daniel Pipes

Jonathan Pollard’s life sentence for the crimes he committed nearly 30 years ago is, without a doubt, both a travesty of justice and completely disproportionate.

Indeed, I offered Pollard advice and help when he called me from prison in the mid-1990s. For example, I published an original document about his trial in 1997 and evinced new information about him from Caspar Weinberger in a 1999 interview. I have maintained a weblog entry exposing the rank hypocrisy of U.S. leaders who come down so hard on Pollard even as American intelligence services spy no less, and probably much more, on Israel.

I mention these bona fides because I do not want Barack Obama to pardon Pollard.

While delighted by this prospect for the prisoner and his family, after so many years and so much emotional freighting, his pardon will certainly carry a high strategic cost (just as did the release of Gilad Shalit). I expect an exorbitant price in the currency of Israeli concessions toward the Palestinians or even toward the Islamic Republic of Iran. Cool U.S.-Israel relations have their benefit when Obama, Kerry, Hagel, Brennan, and Rice are running the foreign policy show.

Accordingly, and with a heavy heart, I call on the free-Pollard advocates to cease their efforts until a president with an understanding of American interests comes to office.

Mr. Pipes is president of the Middle East Forum. © 2014 by Daniel Pipes

{Matzav.com Newscenter}


  1. To a point, Pipes is right. Jonathon Pollard should be released because his continued incarceration is a blatant injustice, not because of any political expediency or inducement. Jonathon must be freed by the Supreme Court.

  2. “until a president with an understanding of American interests comes to office.”

    Pollard will be released while Obama is President, on November 21, 2015.

  3. In view of
    *the overriding importance of Pidyon Shvuyim
    *the continuing severe injustices against Mr. Pollard
    *his very poor health
    how dare Daniel Pipes and Matzav publish such a terrible article?


  4. The only reason he is not pardoned is because Shimon Peres does not want him pardoned (it will be too much of an embarrassment to him). Guaranteed that after he is gone, we will have Pollard released in a moment….There is no other rational reason for the total refusal of govt. after govt. It is only at his insistence. Mark my words….

  5. To # 3,

    Apparently, you didn’t read Mr. Pipes’ comment. He is making a valid and quite “kosher” point. This website has no reason to keep this opinion unpublished.

    The issue of redeeming one person at the security expense of an entire nation of people is a very difficult matter and all options need to be given proper weight.

    Let’s all keep davening that all of us, together with our brother in captivity and our brothers in the holy land merit to see the the redemption.

  6. 9. Comment from Rav
    Time February 24, 2014 at 6:55 PM

    Please delete this article. It conflicts with our obligations re. Pidyon Shvuyim, one of the most important Mitzvos.


  7. It seems that some people are unaware about the halachos of pidyan shevuim.

    The halacha is:
    * We must do everything in our power to get a captive their freedom.

    * We may not pay too high of a price…

    The Marahm Mi’Rutenburg (a Rishon) unfortunately passed away in captivity. He refused to allow his brethren to redeem him (as per halacha) until his captives come down in price.

  8. Thank you Commenters # 5, 7, and 9.

    Apparently, Daniel Pipes — who, Halachically, is probably a non-Jew — has become the Posek for this formerly-kosher Web site.


  9. While the costs need to be seriously evaluated and weighed accordingly, this is a job for our poskim and daas Torah, not for some freiyack who could care less about Torah uMitzvos.
    And l’aniyas daati political considerations and expediencys should not be boh bcheshbon, rather impact and risk to others (the Maharam MiRottenberg was worried that if they paid a high price the goyim would go out and imprison many more yidden as a fundraising enterprise. This is clearly not a concern in the Pollard situation). Regardless, as a Torah true website Matzav should be embaressed for putting this on their site.