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Pollard’s Parents Haunted by Question ‘Is it Our Fault?’ With AM-The Pollard Campaign

June 1, 1991

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) _ For 52 years, Morris and Mollie Pollard have been partners in life, building a home, raising a family and traveling the world together. Now they share something else: fear.

They worry about their son, Jonathan, who is serving a life prison term for selling secrets to Israel. They wonder if they’ll live to see him a free man again. And they’re haunted by questions about themselves.

″It’s on our minds day and night,″ said Pollard, 75, a scientist and professor emeritus at Notre Dame University. ″We wake up at 3 o’clock in the morning and we look at each other and say, ’How did we ever get involved in something like this? What happened? Is it our fault?‴

″Did we expose our children to too much in this world of the damage done to Jewish people as a result of the Holocaust? And yet we feel that this is something that we should never forget.″

The Pollards say they wanted their two sons and daughter - Jonathan, 36, is the youngest - to know about the millions of Jews who died at the hands of the Nazis during World War II. It was more than a history lesson. Mrs. Pollard lost more than 70 members of her family in the Holocaust.

So on trips to Europe, the Pollards toured concentration camps. Jonathan, then a teen, was deeply moved. He developed an unswerving allegiance to Israel. Years later, it led to his undoing.

In these last five years, the Pollards have struggled with almost every emotion: confusion, shock, embarrassment and anger.

″I was incensed that he should get himself involved in something like this,″ the elder Pollard said. ″I’m a 30-year veteran of the Army and I’m proud of it.″

Now, they live with another kind of anger, stemming from their conviction that Jonathan’s sentence is too harsh. The elder Pollard and his daughter Carol are trying to change that with their campaign to free him.

They speak across the nation, lobby Jewish groups and appear on TV and radio shows. The elder Pollard also has traveled to Israel.

The Pollards keep their son abreast of their efforts when they talk or visit him in Marion, Ill., home to the nation’s most secure federal prison.

During all their conversations, the elder Pollard has never asked his son why he did what he did. He has, however, done his own soul-searching.

″I wouldn’t have done it,″ he said. ″He worked on principle. I cannot criticize him strongly knowing that he didn’t harm our country, and that his was a dilemma based on a moral decision.″

But, he added quietly, ″I would have preferred had he not broken the law.″

Mrs. Pollard, 74, keeps Jonathan’s cello in the living room. She is optimistic about the future.

″I’m a firm believer that the good Lord will not let anything happen to him,″ she said, ″and he will again live like a human being.″

But both are eyeing the hourglass.

″What I am anxious for,″ Pollard said, ″is that we get him out of jail before we die.″

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