Jonathan Pollard's Response to Sharansky Letter
and Media Statement of June 21, 2004
Special to IMRA - June 28, 2004
RE: Your letter and media release of 21 June 2004
My discreet request that you resign as the minister in charge of the Pollard case and refrain from all further involvement in my affairs was compelled by your damaging actions and indifferent attitude. Your failure to respond to my request, or indeed to any of my communications, left me with no choice but to call for your resignation publicly.
In response you issued a statement to the media and dispatched a letter to me (copies attached below as Addendum 1 and 2 respectively). Both of these compound the damage you have done, and remove all doubt about the soundness of my decision to ask you to desist from all involvement in my case.
Your meetings with U.S. intelligence officials, in spite of your solemn promise to me that you would not do so, is more than just a personal betrayal. It dealt a severe blow to a well thought-out legal strategy which limits engaging with enemies of this case to the courtroom and nowhere else.
To make matters worse, you then carried the water of my enemies in the intelligence community by publishing their justification for continuing to insist upon my incarceration - as a warning to other countries against "friendly spying"- as if it were a valid reason rather than the anti-Semitic excuse that it is.
The fact that no other friendly spy has been subjected to such harsh treatment and no spy for any other ally has ever gotten a life sentence did not trouble you. You broadcast my enemies' disingenuous excuse via Uri Dan in both the Hebrew and the English media. No doubt you were aware that you were performing a service for Prime Minister Sharon by providing him with cover for his inaction on my case.
Not content with the level of damage, you upped the ante by engaging in character assassination. Your statements to the press, in your media release and in your letter to me, 21 June 2004, attempt to defame me and to damage public perception of my character. They are full of insinuations impugning my mental health and calling into question my command of reality. Not only are your allegations utterly untruthful, they are deliberately malicious.
As you well know, Natan, I am a prisoner, and I am vulnerable. My case is now before the U.S. Appellate Court. Your harsh statements implying and/or stating that my long years in prison have damaged my judgment, that I lack discretion, that I cannot be trusted, that I am uninformed, cut off from reality, act irresponsibly and without cause, are all weapons which can and will be used against me in my present situation and in court.
You say in your letter to me that you took up my cause because you know what it means to be in prison. If so, Natan, then you clearly know that you are damaging me by attacking my character. Yet you do so without hesitation, regardless of the impact it may have on my fate. It is clear that your words and actions are not meant to serve my interests.
What is more, the fact that your defamatory statements and malevolent insinuations about me do not jibe with reality, or with all of the first-hand accounts of me by the many people who have met with me in recent years, speaks volumes about your unsuitability to represent me.
In your letter, you state that you took up my cause because of a "moral imperative." Tell me Natan, why did it take you so many years to respond to that moral imperative?
More to the point, where have you been for the last 6 years, since the Wye fiasco? How is it that in all the years since Wye you have never spoken out publicly in any international forum, (a perfunctory response to an Arutz7 question, six hellish years after Wye, doesn't count); never written one of your ubiquitous op-eds in any newspaper of record in the U.S. or Israel; never campaigned publicly or privately to tell the truth about what really happened at Wye and to insist that the U.S. live up to its commitment to release me - an integral part of the accords.
In a recent letter to PM Sharon, and to you and your fellow ministers, Netanyahu and Naveh, regarding Bill Clinton's new book "My Life", Rabbi Pesach Lerner (Executive V.P., National Council of Young Israel) urges that the Government of Israel, represented by the four of you who were eyewitnesses at Wye, act jointly and without delay to respond to Clinton's distortions by putting out the truth.
Rabbi Lerner writes:
"With the publication of the Clinton book and the reviving of the old lies, it appears that the Al-Mighty is giving the Government of Israel another opportunity to insist upon Pollard's release. Clinton's book has made the Wye issue once again newsworthy, and provides the opportunity to complete that which was begun at Wye, the release of Jonathan Pollard But even if that is not the case, and your united stand does nothing more than put the truth on record - that Israel negotiated for Jonathan Pollard's release at Wye and an agreement was reached, and that Israel has fulfilled her obligations - that alone would be important and a moral victory."
Rabbi Lerner's letter is not a request to reinvolve you in my case, but rather to point out yet another opportunity for you and those who were with you at Wye to finally speak up and put the truth on record in defense of Israel's - and your own - honor first and foremost.
As for your so-called "resignation" from my case which you say you tendered to the Prime Minister, it is at best disingenuous, and at worst, hypocritical. You state you have resigned from your official position as the minister in charge of in my case, and in the same breath you state that you will continue to interfere in my affairs and embitter my life in an unofficial capacity! What chutzpah!
Your media release, on the other hand, does not even mention that you have resigned from official involvement on my case at all. Rather, it insists that your activities on my behalf continue, and that they are "too sensitive" to discuss. Your doublespeak on this issue does little for your credibility, but may enable others to see why I have lost all faith in you.
Moreover, in my nearly 20 years in prison, I have learned that activities that are "too sensitive" to discuss is just code, for "nothing is going on behind the scenes; let's not discuss it." This is a ploy that the government used successfully in the early years of this case to evade responsibility and to lull everyone into a false sense of security that efforts for my release were on-going. Today, no one is fooled.
What is more, changing history to suggest that certain events took place which, in fact, did not, is morally reprehensible. In your letter to me, you claim that at a meeting with my rabbi and my New York attorneys you briefed them on a strategic plan for winning my release.
The truth is that, the day before our prison meeting, you and your wife met with my New York attorneys to get a briefing on my American legal initiatives. Present at that meeting also was Rabbi Pesach Lerner, a long-time advocate of the Pollard case. He recalls that you and your wife had questions and comments, were curious about meeting me, but neither Rabbi Lerner nor my attorneys recalls you ever speaking about a strategic plan for seeking my release. (As for my rabbi, HaRav Mordecai Eliyahu, he has not met with you about my case, nor have you ever briefed him on any strategic plan.)
Another distortion in your letter concerns the 4.5 million shekel which you refer to completely out of context. When I referenced that sum in previous letters to you it was in the context of a new Knesset bill. I have the text of the original draft of the bill which was to have mandated the 4.5 million shekel to your office, for "Pollard activities." The bill provided no relief for me, no action on my case, no improvement in my situation, no government policy, no visits from the ambassador, no implementation of my captivity status governing my rights and the government's obligations to me, and no government accountability whatsoever - just a 4.5 million dollar slush fund for your office.
You claimed at the time to have had nothing to do with this bill, but as I have indicated previously, Natan, the very fact that the Knesset Lobby knew your name and where to send the money is indictment enough. Esther and I had to expend a disproportionate amount of time and energy lobbying to get that bill killed in committee. Your letter to me does not acknowledge that the bill ever existed! Instead you refer to the 4.5 million shekel as if it existed in a vacuum or as if it were a figment of my imagination - which you claim to have dispelled by talking to my attorney "over and over again" - which attorney was that, Natan?
In your letter you accuse me of "sabotaging and undermining (your) efforts" to secure my release. This is how you describe my attempts to reach out to you and share my experience. I tried so hard to steer you in the right direction. After nearly 20 years in prison, I do know what will work and what will not. All of my outreach to you was resented, rebuffed and ignored. In no time at all, you cut all communication with me, with my wife and with my Israeli attorney. It becomes more and more apparent, that you could not work collaboratively with us because you did not share our goal - namely, my immediate release.
Natan, when we met in prison on 4 February 2004, you promised me that you would not become a fig leaf to hide government inaction. You promised that if you found that the Prime Minister would not support intensive efforts for my immediate release, you would publicly resign, and not lend him cover. Although you have confided to our activists and to others that Ariel Sharon will do NOTHING to help me, you continue to cover for him publicly.
Ditto your interaction with the Interministerial Committee that Sharon appointed to take charge of my case. You confided in our activists that the Committee is useless, and that I am correct in calling it a "Chevra Keddishe" ("Burial Society"). Nevertheless, you continue to publicly lend cover and credence to this evil cabal -- something you promised me you would NOT do.
It is not just what you have done that is so damaging, Natan. But also what you have failed to do as the minister in charge of my case is just as egregious. For example, your failure to take any action whatsoever to capitalize on a golden window of opportunity, following the instruction of American Ambassador Daniel Kurtzer that Israel should submit a formal request for my release at once, is tantamount to bloodshed. Kurtzer even confirmed this instruction to you personally, in the presence of a witness who informed me, but you just let the opportunity pass. This is yet another betrayal of an Israeli agent in peril.
Natan, it is possible to go on foreverbut I think you get the gist. There were and are compelling factual reasons for me to request your resignation as the minister responsible for my case. In all the time that you held this position, there has not been one iota of improvement in my situation, and no serious initiative to seek my release. My wife and I still live in poverty. Neither of us is well, and both of us require serious medical attention which we are not getting. The passage of time is only making things worse.
Let me conclude, Natan, by stating that if there had been even a shred of evidence, even a hint of any effort or honest initiative on your part all of these months since you visited me, I would have held my tongue, suffered all of your insults and discourtesies and forgiven them all. But that was not the case.
In light of the above, it is with both sadness and great disappointment that I reiterate my request to you to remove yourself from my case and to cease and desist from all involvement in it - not just in your official capacity as a government minister, but as a private person as well.
Addendum Number One:
Sharansky's Letter to Jonathan Pollard
MINISTER FOR JERUSALEM
& Diaspora Affairs
June 21, 2004
A few months ago when the Prime Minister delegated to me the responsibility of coordinating the Government efforts to help secure your prompt release, I accepted this responsibility with the utmost seriousness. I knew that this would be a very difficult task, that it would be a thankless job, and I knew of the difficulties others had working with you. But I also knew what imprisonment means. I felt and continue to feel that the extreme and exceptional extent of your punishment was a grave injustice. I felt that Israel has a moral obligation to effectively assist you. I felt that others may be reluctant to accept this responsibility. And I felt that I might be able to achieve some real progress.
I discussed my strategy for action with your lawyers in the United States and they, as well as your Rabbi, are well aware of the overall plans I embarked energetically and in earnest to win your release in accordance with that strategy and plan.
All this was done out of conviction of a moral imperative.
As I explained over and over again to your lawyer, no special "Pollard" Government funds were ever requested by my office nor voted for use by my office. Your statement of an allocation of 4.1 million NIS as it refers to my activities, is simply erroneous.
It is legitimate to have different strategies or tactics - as a matter of fact that can sometimes be creative and useful. But when you do everything in your power to sabotage and undermine my efforts in the way I see fit, it is perfectly clear that I can no longer continue to operate.
We have, indeed, made progress (clearly very little so long as you are in prison but far more than had been achieved in the past). This was done through many carefully conceived and planned confidential meetings with key people connected to your case,, some of whom blocked past efforts to help. Of course, I could not reveal their names and I shudder to think of the damage you could have caused by an "open letter" with such sensitive information included in the midst of your other irresponsible statements.
It is your prerogative to have little or no confidence in my course of action, and your continued vocal and public opposition to every step I took, no doubt, reflects such a state.
I would have preferred a more civil, not to mention, considerate way of expression. It is because of this, of your lack of confidence in my course, that I have advised the Prime Minister that I can no longer continue to coordinate the official Government efforts on your behalf.
Avital and I will continue to do everything possible to achieve your release - as we have done in the past. I pray for your early release and for your finding peace of soul and mind. You deserve both and klal Yisrael has an obligation to do all possible to bring it to you.
Addendum Number Two:
Sharansky's Media Statement Re: Jonathan Pollard
June 21, 2004
(Courtesy of IMRA)
"Due to the sensitive nature of the issue and minister Sharansky's activities on behalf of Jonathan Pollard - which continue - he prefers not to be interviewed on the subject. At the same time, the minister notes that he certainly can accept with understanding virtually any comment from Pollard, considering that Pollard has spent the past 18 years in prison."
Media Advisor to Natan Sharansky,
Minister for Jerusalem & Diaspora Affairs