Each time Anne Pollard puts on her Israeli-issued gas mask, waiting in a sealed condominium bathroom to see if an incoming Iraqi missile has a chemical warhead, she thinks of her former husband.
Jonathan Jay Pollard, a former U.S. Navy intelligence analyst, is serving a life sentence at a federal prison in Virginia for passing classified information to Israel in 1985 about Saddam Hussein's growing chemical weapons capability.More than a few Israelis these days are thinking about Jonathan Pollard in the face of Iraq's threats to launch gas-tipped Scud missiles at them and what role he may have played in making life safer for his former wife and the rest of the country.
Thanks to him, this reasoning goes, Israel took steps in anticipation of a possible Iraqi chemical attack - including ordering millions of gas masks.
An opinion piece in the Jerusalem Post argued that the readiness to face the potential chemical threat allowed the government to maintain its highly praised "self-restraint" in not risking the allied coalition by retaliating against Iraqi conventional attacks.
The sense of gratitude has led to the formation of a Jonathan Pollard support committee headed by two members of parliament. Among other things, it is providing Anne Pollard with living expenses while she takes intensive Hebrew courses.
Anne Pollard spent 40 months in prison after pleading guilty as an accessory in the spy case, which led to a historic low in U.S.-Israeli relations. The Brooklyn native was paroled over the summer and moved to Tel Aviv on Aug. 1 - the day before Iraq invaded Kuwait.
"It was worth it going to jail if it helped prevent the use of chemical weapons, for the sake of America and Israel," she said. "We did nothing to hurt America. And we never wanted any harm to come to relations between the two countries."
Now that Israel has resisted the impulse to counterattack, relations with Washington appear to be better than at any time in years.
"I'm pro-American and pro-Israel," Anne Pollard, 30, said. "I'm very happy to see they are working together. This war exemplifies that the claim (that) Jay and I (permanently damaged) relations between the two countries is 180 degrees wrong."
She will not discuss details of the case because of legal activity, other than to say "if the true facts came out, he would be released."
After the two were convicted, Jonathan Pollard filed for divorce. It became final when a rabbi delivered the decree to Anne Pollard a few days ago.
"I absolutely didn't want the divorce," she said. "I wasn't prepared for it. We were best friends. If this hadn't happened we'd still be together."
Now she is building a new life in Tel Aviv. She has applied for Israeli citizenship, and recently she offered her public relations expertise to the Israeli government.
"I'm very calm and collected. I learned from my (prison) experience because I was exposed to all kinds of people.
"This is my first war," she said. "I'm at both governments' disposal."
Distributed by Scripps Howard News Service