Here’s the situation: The Israelis keep pestering the U.S. to release convicted spy Jonathan Pollard. The Americans have spent more than a year trying to get the Israelis to return alleged murderer Samuel Sheinbein. Judging from a snag in the recent Middle East peace talks, Washington scouts rate Pollard’s value higher than that of a chunk of disputed Holy Land. On the Israeli side, Sheinbein’s appeal is no less sacred: His Chosen People roots have been traced back to the time of King David, and the authorities aren’t giving up the former Kennedy High School student that easily.
Hence a deal that even Madeleine Albright can’t botch: Pollard for Sheinbein, straight up. Both squads would plug holes that the draft can’t fill. In the bearded, balding, bespectacled Pollard, the Israelis would gain a much-needed espionage veteran, a 44-year-old scrapper who is already familiar with the playbook. A history and philosophy major at Stanford (decent football team for an egghead university) and a law graduate of Notre Dame (legendary gridiron dynasty), Pollard made a damn good spy, no matter what team you were rooting for: The top-secret information he sold to the Israelis included thousands of expertly purloined documents.
In Sheinbein, the U.S. gets an experienced field general with a gift for using all the tools at his disposal. When things get dicey, the strapping, 5-foot-9 former wrestler gets busyand he knows how to clean up after himself. While not the most articulate jock on the block, Sheinbein shows Gap good looks and poise beyond his yearswitness his Diet Coke-sipping nonchalance in arraignment court. And if league skeptics doubt the kid’s ferocity, have them check with the Maryland State Medical Examiner.
As a diplomatic coup for both sides, this is a no-brainerno need to squabble over future considerations: a seasoned traitor for an (alleged) teen power-tool murderer. Never a minced-pork-barbecue lover, Pollard obviously hasn’t really felt at home in the federal pen down in North Carolina. So he’ll finally get his wish to go back to his ancestral land, where he reportedly “wants to be treated like an Israeli soldier in the field.” And young fugitive Sam will receive his own sort of homecoming, back to the Washington suburbs where he shovelled snow for neighbors, tutored math students, and allegedly killed 19-year-old Freddy Tello, cutting off his arms and legs and torching the bodyall done with the game clock ticking in the garage of the Sheinbein family home in Wheaton.
Time is running out. Next week, an Israeli court will hear another Sheinbein appeal, another way station in a case that threatens to rival the peace process in duration. GMs from both sides need to get these prospects back on their home teams. CP