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Letters: What to do with an Israeli spy

April 05, 2014

Re "Jonathan Pollard's fate," Editorial, April 2

You argue that releasing Jonathan Pollard, the former intelligence worker who passed along secret information to Israel and was sentenced to life in prison, is a poor decision because it would set an "unseemly precedent." You go on to argue that releasing Pollard would not have any real impact on Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

Both claims fail to see the urgency of the situation.

Releasing Pollard would actually provide concrete incentives to Israel's very right-wing government by rewarding it for concessions. Israel has arguably never had a government less willing to give up territory to the Palestinians; it sees such an exchange not as land for peace but as land for uncertainty.

That Pollard's incarceration only benefits the extreme Israeli right, who view him as a sort of martyr, is even more reason he should be released and deported to Israel. Without concrete benefits for difficult concessions, the Israeli government will not budge. The alternative is aggressive settlement growth and more conflict.

Nathan Hersh

New York City

The writer is acting executive director of Partners for Progressive Israel.

The Times should have placed greater emphasis on Pollard's utterly crass motives for spying on the United States.

Pollard exerted much energy to obtain a position of trust so that he could gain access to U.S. secrets, which he considered a profitable commodity. It is a disservice to ascribe any nobility to his actions.

From Daniel Ellsberg to Edward Snowden, rightly or wrongly, individuals have divulged government secrets based on principle and personal conviction. Pollard sold our secrets to Israel and to Pakistan for money. He does not deserve any sympathy.

Francis Sarguis

Santa Barbara

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