A lot was said last week here in these pages and in a great number of other publications about former New York City Mayor, Ed Koch. For my part I always liked Koch and mostly his politics and positions on Israel except for his view on the matter of the long and seemingly endless imprisonment of Jonathon Pollard.
Koch spoke his mind with little if any restraint on a great variety of matters. What put me off was hearing him say on a New York radio program that in his opinion Pollard should have been hanged for his crime of espionage against the US for Israel. I was shocked and chagrined that Koch—who usually adapted very pro-Israel stances—, would say what he did with such certainty and conviction.
I believed at the time that Mr. Koch took that position because as a man that was so obsessed with both his Jewishness as well as his acceptance by the mainstream American culture, the Pollard ordeal seemed to unsettle whatever imaginary balance existed in that equation. Pollard and the charges against him—that is dual loyalty as an American citizen (and government employee) and a Jew upset that silent equilibrium that so many Jews in this county have struggled with since the founding of the Jewish state in 1948.
Mayor Koch could have been a poster boy for that conflict or struggle or whatever that psychological malady is. I just could never appropriately grasp or wrap my mind around how intelligent and educated people like Mr. Koch and others were able to display such insensitivity and even hostility toward the Pollard plight. So he was convicted of spying for Israel on the United States. He has paid a very deep and dear price by spending his last 28-years in a federal prison but Koch and others just wanted Pollard to go away. As Jews the mere existence of the Pollard situation made them very uncomfortable and always conscious of their vulnerability of the challenge involved wholly supporting the rightness of Israel paired with being a true blue American citizen.
No one else out there in the great rainbow of ethnicity that is America seems to be dealing with the same kind of problem. I mean Peruvian or Brazilian Americans and others who hail from or feel an allegiance to a home country (where they were born or their parents were born) do not have this silent suspicion suspended over their heads like Jews either do or feel they do.
And that’s what I think troubled Ed Koch more than anything else. So Now President Obama is finally planning a trip to Israel in mid-March and the talk has once again been stirred. Wouldn’t it be nice and a wonderful overture if prior to his departure to the Jewish state the president would issue whatever orders it takes to finally free Mr. Pollard from prison.
Will that happen? Can it happen? Sure anything can take place but by simply reading the political tea leaves that type of an event occurring is unfortunately extremely unlikely. And that is probably because the Jews around Mr. Obama may feel very much the same way as the late Ed Koch did as they daily endeavor to balance their love of Israel and that of America.