The Meshummad, the Mishpocha and the Meshuggener
After making the “deal of a lifetime” with Iran, thanks to American “prowess”, the focus of the Jewish world was diverted to the anticipated release of Jonathan Pollard, who will be completing a 30 year sentence for passing classified U.S. military information to Israel. It comes as no surprise that there is no shortage of finger pointing as far as who is to blame and whether or not Mr. Pollard should be regarded as a martyr, a hero, or an unrepentant disloyal citizen.
Regular readers of this column should not be the least bit shocked to learn that I take a different view of this thirty year fiasco. Regular readers of this column should not be the least bit shocked when I say: A pox on the United States! A pox on Israel! A pox on Pollard!
While the real meaning of the Hebrew/Yiddish word Meshummad refers to one who forsakes Judaism and embraces another religion, Meshummad is used by Yiddish speakers to describe
a miscreant…or worse. Once upon a time in America, there was a Secretary of State whose paternal grandparents abandoned their faith, but not their German/Yiddish family name, which was later inherited by their grandson. As a matter of fact, the pejorative term Meshummad also seems to have been inherited by their grandson as well, as he bent over backwards to make sure that Jonathan Pollard, a Jew, receive what so many at the time saw as being an appalling miscarriage of justice, for transferring classified information to that “Jew” country, Israel. One can only wonder, why that Secretary of State didn’t see to it that Pollard got the Electric Chair. A pox on America for carrying out what many believe to be a gross, indecent, miscarriage of justice!
Even though I have never having been involved in espionage, I realize that there are certain phrases that you never accept as the “gospel”. Among those phrases was one that Pollard’s Israeli handlers would use to reassure him. Acheinu Atah, they told him in Hebrew. Don’t worry! You are our brother! We have your back! If they were American Jews, the handlers would in all likelihood have reassured Pollard by saying: We’re Mishpocha. Leave it to “Mishpocha” to force Pollard out from the parking lot of the Israeli Embassy on November 21, 1985 as he sought asylum from the FBI. Once Pollard drove out from the embassy parking lot onto a city street in Washington D.C., he was pulled over by the F.B.I. and the rest as they say, is history. As for Pollard’s handlers? They immediately disappeared from the D.C. area, as well as from the United States. After all, isn’t that what mishpocha is all about? A pox then, on Pollard’s Israeli mishpocha!
Although I have never divulged this information to the vast majority of Tiferet members, there was a short period of time after Jonathan Pollard began his prison sentence that I corresponded with him. As a matter of fact, close to a quarter of century ago, I received a letter from Jonathan Pollard which became the front page lead story in the local Jewish newspaper in New Jersey. It didn’t take me long however to suspect that Pollard was a meshuggener. My suspicions were proven correct when I had the opportunity to meet and speak with the rabbi who served as the prison chaplain where Pollard was incarcerated. My contact with Pollard reminded me how each year there are a small amount of individuals who, upon visiting Israel develop what is known as the Jerusalem syndrome, where they develop a certain psychosis and see themselves as some great personality that will affect the wellbeing of Israel. While I do not profess to be a psychiatrist, I cannot help but feel that in Pollard’s case, a trip to Jerusalem was not necessary. Put differently, had Pollard been normal and done what he was hired to do at the Navy Intelligence Command, none of this would have ever happened. Jonathan Pollard however, as far as I’m concerned, is a meshuggener and therefore has no one else to blame, but Jonathan Pollard! Therefore I say: a pox on Pollard.
I sincerely hope that Jonathan Pollard is soon released. I hope that he is permitted to relocate to Israel, if that is truly what he chooses to do. But above all, I hope that meshummed receives the punishment from HaShem that he deserves. Ditto the Israeli mishpocha who threw Pollard into the lair of the F.B.I. As for Pollard, I hope that others also see him as the meshuggener I believe him to be, so that whoever welcomes him treats him with (guarded) kindness.