Jonathan Pollard, an American who served a 30-year sentence for spying for Israel and who moved to Israel in December after the end of his parole, made blunt comments on supposed Jewish dual loyalty and the FBI in an interview published Thursday.
“American Jewry has one major problem: they consider themselves more American than they do Jews,” Pollard told the Israel Hayom daily.
Asked how he felt about being accused by US Jews of having dual loyalties, Pollard did not take issue with the title. “If you don’t like the accusation of double loyalty, then go the F*** home,” he said bluntly.
“It’s as simple as that. If you live in a country where you are constantly under that charge, then you don’t belong there. You go home. You come home. If you[‘re] outside Israel, then you live in a society in which you are basically considered unreliable. The bottom line on this charge of dual loyalty is, I’m sorry, we’re Jews, and if we’re Jews, we will always have dual loyalty,” he added.
An he suggested that if asked for advice, he would counsel a young US Jew working in the American security apparatus to spy for Israel.
“I’d tell him, not doing anything is unacceptable. So simply going home [to Israel] is not acceptable. Making aliyah is not acceptable,” Pollard said. “You have to make a decision whether your concern for Israel and loyalty to Israel and loyalty to your fellow Jews is more important than your life.
“If you do nothing, and you turn your back, or simply make aliyah, and go on with your life, you’ll be no better than those Jews who before and after the destruction of the Temple said, ‘It’s not my responsibility.'”
Pollard, now 66, sold military secrets to Israel while working as a civilian intelligence analyst for the US Navy in the 1980s. He was arrested in 1985 after trying unsuccessfully to gain asylum at the Israeli Embassy in Washington and pleaded guilty. The espionage affair embarrassed Israel and tarnished its relations with the United States for years.
Pollard was given a life sentence. US defense and intelligence officials said his spying caused great damage and strenuously argued against his release. But after serving 30 years in federal prison, he was released in 2015 and placed on a five-year parole period. Pollard arrived in Israel to a hero’s welcome in December.
He told Israel Hayom that after his arrest, his FBI interrogators gave him a book with names of prominent “pro-Jewish individuals” and asked him to mark those he suspected had ties to Israeli intelligence.
“It reminded me of the book the Nazis had for the invasion of England with names of Jews.
“[They said], ‘You won’t have to give evidence, you won’t have to give testimony in court, nothing, just put a checkmark next to their name.’ I didn’t touch it,” Pollard recalled.
The ex-spy said he was given the cold shoulder from US Jewish leaders following his arrest.
“Their attitude was, ‘Get the hell out of our face. You already showed where your loyalty was,'” he said.
US Jewish leadership eventually softened in its outlook, and some Jewish leaders lobbied for Pollard’s release, saying his life sentence was excessive.
Pollard suggested that Jews were deluding themselves if they thought of America as a home.
“And I always have an argument with these people: I said my loyalty is to the Jewish people and the Jewish state. And they said, ‘Well, you don’t belong here.’ I said, ‘Barur [obviously]. I don’t belong here, I said neither do you. You should go home.’ Their answer was, ‘We are home. This isn’t exile, this is the United States.'”
Israel Hayom was founded by the late casino billionaire Sheldon Adelson, who also provided a private plane to bring Pollard and his wife to Israel in December, shortly before his death. The newspaper said it would publish its full interview with Pollard on Friday.
JTA contributed to this report.