Territory of Lies

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Jonathan Jay Pollard is about as far from James Bond as one can imagine. As a child, he was studious and physically unimposing. Derided by his classmates as an egghead, his plight was made worse by that fact that in the Midwest public schools he attended, he was one of only a handful of Jews. His classmates frequently subjected him to pranks, and as a result he developed a strong sensitivity to anti-Semitism.

Jonathan, an aggressive type, refused to crawl into the woodwork. He ardently supported Israel from an early age and responded to his isolation by stressing his Jewish background. In doing so he had the warm approval of his parents. His father, Dr. Morris Pollard, is a world-renowned microbiologist who has been honored by the Israeli government.

After being graduated from Stanford University, where he was once again regarded as bright but aggressive and isolated, he became an Intelligence Analyst with the Navy in 1979. His bizarre personality soon got him into trouble. He falsely claimed that he knew officials in the South African Intelligence Service. After his superiors discovered his deception, they recommended that Jonathan see a psychiatrist. However, he was not fired.

Meanwhile, he had become dissatisfied with his job. He believed that information vital to Israel’s security was being withheld by Naval Intelligence because of anti-Semitism. Although his offer to aid the Mossad (the Israeli Secret Service) was first rejected, eventually a maverick unit of the organization recruited him. Pollard sent thousands of secret documents to Israel. Prominent Israelis involved with him included Colonel Aviem Sella, a noted war hero, and Rafael Eitan, a famous and controversial master spy.

After Pollard’s treachery was uncovered, the Israeli Embassy in Washington rejected his plea for asylum for himself and his wife. He was tried and sentenced to prison for life.

Why did he do it? When Pollard was recruited, he was told that while he would be spying in the United States, nothing that he did would be against the United States. This, combined with his feelings of rage over policy he considered anti-Semitic, induced him to follow a drastic course of betrayal. Wolf Blitzer, while not approving Pollard’s activities, contends that he has received too harsh a sentence. Readers of this full and frank account can judge this and other matters for themselves.