Nissim Mishal Interview on Jonathan Pollard's September 2 Court Date
J4JP Translation - J4JP Release - August 26, 2003
Nissim Mishal, well-known host of Israeli television and radio, interviewed Esther Pollard in Hebrew on August 14, 2003 in Jerusalem. The interview aired live on his radio program, Mishal Al HaBoker on Channel 2 Endless Radio.
Nissim Mishal: ...The United States Federal Court has decided to hear the case of Jonathan Pollard who was accused of spying on behalf of Israel and who is serving his 18th year of a life sentence in the US. Jonathan Pollard is going to appear in court next month (on September 2nd) since the Federal court has given his attorneys the go-ahead to present his cases. We will say good morning to Jonathan's wife. Esther, Good morning!
Esther Pollard: Good morning Nissim!
Nissim Mishal: Hi!
Esther Pollard: Nissim. Nissim, you are mistaken. The court is not going to hear Jonathan's cases next month.
Nissim Mishal: Why?
Esther Pollard: All that will occur is a procedural thing, nothing of substance. Just technical talk by the attorneys only.
Nissim Mishal: What do you mean?
Esther Pollard: This is not a trial or a hearing. It is what is known in English as "Oral Arguments." It is essentially just more talk about whether or not to allow the attorneys to continue Jonathan's cases which have already been sitting on the judges desk for the last 3 years. It is a device that allows the Court to avoid making a decision on those two cases.
Nissim Mishal: Why haven't they been decided?
Esther Pollard: We do not know. But we do know that holding oral arguments at this time will not decide those cases. And without a decision on those cases, we are in a legal
No-man's-land. We are stuck in the mud.
Nissim Mishal: Nevertheless, Jonathan's case will be heard on September 2nd, as requested by his attorneys.
Esther Pollard: No! That is not it at all!
Nissim Mishal: How can that be?
Esther Pollard: Again, this is not a trial and it is not a hearing. It is simply a technical procedure. There will be no testimony and no evidence. Jonathan will not get to testify or even to speak. No decision on his original cases will be made. The issues which may free him will NOT be dealt with at this meeting. Without a decision on his two original cases, we cannot go forward to a REAL hearing (an evidentiary hearing) or even to an appeal.
Nissim Mishal: So why do people think September 2nd is a critical hearing?
Esther Pollard: Apparently that is the impression the court wished to convey.
Nissim Mishal: Why then is Jonathan being brought to court in Washington? Just for appearances?
Esther Pollard: It seems that way, doesn't it? As long as the public has the mistaken impression that something important is happening in court, they will not be concerned for Jonathan. Meanwhile, a lot more time is being wasted as Jonathan continues to languish in prison without any hope of this court date moving his case forward at all.
Nissim Mishal: I see... so then it is not true?
Esther Pollard: Nissim, if it were true, if this really were a meaningful court hearing, I would be very happy. But that is not the case. Not at all.
Nissim Mishal: Fine. Let's talk about...
Esther Pollard: And if you have any problem with what I am saying I am sure that Jonathan's attorney, his Jerus... (stammers and Mishal finishes her sentence.)
Nissim Mishal: ...Jonathan's Jerusalem attorney.
Esther Pollard: Yes. Thank you. I am quite distressed, please excuse me.
Nissim Mishal: What is troubling you?
Esther Pollard: I am deeply troubled that announcing this court date in September destroys any hope that Jonathan had that the Government of Israel might finally actually do something for him, especially now when there is such a great window of opportunity. Here we are making all these enormous gestures [to the Palestinians] at the request of the United States and Jonathan's release was promised to us at Wye by the US. All Israel has to do is to collect it. And his release was a promise, not between two leaders, but between two nations. Instead of Israel asking for Jonathan's release, there is all this noise in the media about a bogus hearing in Washington in September, as if that might actually free him, and that lets Israel off the hook again. The government has the perfect excuse to defer all initiative and to once again bury Jonathan alive.
Nissim Mishal: Yes. Esther I want to speak with you about another subject as well. I read in the paper this morning that you are in dire financial straits and have no apparent means of support. That you live on handouts. How did this happen? How did it get this way?
Esther Pollard: First of all, let me point out that we have a few good friends who help us out. We do not do fundraising and we do not collect money at all. The only reason that Jonathan and I ever agreed to be interviewed about our financial distress is because it reflects the degree of abandonment that Jonathan has suffered at the hands of the Government of Israel.
Nissim Mishal: The Government of Israel does not support you or Jonathan at all?
Esther Pollard: Not a cent. Not a single cent throughout this 18-year ordeal. Moreover we are both not well, and we receive no support of any kind. Not even medical help. I do not even have access to Kupat Cholim [health care] here. At the end of this week, on Motzei Shabbat, I am leaving to see Jonathan. I will fly via Canada so that I can receive medical care there. I am a Canadian citizen and in order to receive medical treatment I must continually fly back to Canada.
Nissim Mishal: It sounds to me... it sounds to me not... so not reasonable, that I am simply stunned. Did you ask anyone for help? Because I read in the paper today a response by the Ministry of Defense that they decided three years ago to provide you and Jonathan with a monthly allowance.
Esther Pollard: We do not receive a cent. They simply made that announcement in the media years ago, and it did terrible damage to Jonathan at the time, but there was no follow up. When our attorney demanded to know why they were doing this damage to Jonathan, the government just shrugged it off. Our attorney asked if they were going to announce that they were providing money for other Israelis in captivity, like Azzam Azzam. The response he received was, "Are you crazy?! We don't want to hurt Azzam Azzam!" So why was it okay to hurt Jonathan with this fake publicity?!
Nissim Mishal: So what do you live on? What do you live on, Esther?
Esther Pollard: What do I live on?
Nissim Mishal: Yes!
Esther Pollard: I worked for many years and now am using the last of my pension savings. In 1999 I got cancer and was no longer able to work. Since then I have not been able to work. We have a small group of friends who help us out here and there. Not wealthy people. Just a few good friends who really care. We really live on miracles.
Nissim Mishal: Where do you live?
Esther Pollard: I live in a room in the house of a kindly widow in Jerusalem. She heard about our financial distress and offered me a room in her house. Even in Canada, I store my things in a place which I do not own, and I stop there on my way to the States to see Jonathan. In the US I stay in the cheapest motel possible, the kind of place that people visit for an hour, not for an evening... that cheap.
Nissim Mishal: So you are saying that in fact you have no home. You do not have a house at all, or a place anywhere in the world that belongs to you?
Esther Pollard: No. Nothing at all. We have nothing. The Government has even seen to it that we have no children. In the US, in prison (unlike in Israel), it is forbidden for a wife to be alone with her husband.
Nissim Mishal: Uh.. yes.
Esther Pollard: They prevent us from having anything at all. But Nissim, I don't care. All I want is my husband home. Israel doesn't even have to pay for Jonathan's release. It has been bought and the price paid, but we happen to know, and even have confirmation from a highly placed source that Sharon simply does not want Jonathan.
Nissim Mishal: Come on, Esther, don't let's exaggerate! What do you mean Sharon doesn't want Jonathan. Why wouldn't he want Pollard? Jonathan? What do you mean?!
Esther Pollard: It is no exaggeration. 112 Members of Knesset recently signed a petition for Jonathan's release and gave that petition to Sharon to take to Bush during his recent trip to Washington. It was an historic petition. One hundred an twelve MKs called on President Bush to free Jonathan. Even the peace treaty with Jordan was not ratified by 112 Members of Knesset! What did Sharon do with the historic petition for Jonathan's release? He left it at home in Jerusalem! Why? Sharon's people said he did not take it because he had "more important things" to deal with in Washington, such as the release of the terrorists and the security fence. So excuse me, if that is the way Sharon responds to Jonathan's issue, even in the light of such an historic initiative by the Knesset, it speaks volumes - and by the way, Sharon himself signed the petition.
Nissim Mishal: Yes.
Esther Pollard: And he didn't even deny it. Sharon never even denied that he did NOT give the petition to Bush.
Nissim Mishal: Esther we shall end our conversation. And I truly do wish you that Jonathan will speedily be returned home. Thank you very much.
Esther Pollard: Thank you.
Nissim Mishal: Good morning!