Pollard To Supreme Court: Grant Me Prisoner of Zion Status
Hillel Fendel - Arutz7 News - September 5, 2005
The High Court held a hearing today on a petition by imprisoned Israeli intelligence agent Jonathan Pollard against the government of Israel. Pollard demands to be recognized as a Prisoner of Zion.
Close to 100 people were in attendance at the Jerusalem hearing, including Esther Pollard, Nadia Matar of Women in Green, Pollard-activists Nissan Gan-Or and Adi Ginzburg, and a delegation of Prisoners of Zion. The leader of the latter group, Prof. Ezriel Kochubievski of Rehovot, told reporters before the hearing:
"The government stipulates that Prisoners of Zion must have engaged in Zionism. When I was in the Soviet Union, I did not think of myself as engaging in Zionism; I just wanted to go to Israel. Pollard, however, was sent by Israel to carry out a specific mission. If that's not a Zionist activity that qualifies for Prisoner of Zion status, then I also do not qualify."
Several audience members said that Darshan-Leitner made an excellent presentation, pleading for the Government of Israel to do its utmost for Jonathan Pollard. The government representative was "very hesitant," witnesses said, arguing without conviction that the government's hands are tied by the "strict letter of the law." Darshan-Leitner disagreed, saying that the current law can apply to Pollard as well.
The final decision is to be given at a later date.
Pollard is currently serving his 20th year of a life sentence in the U.S. for his activities on behalf of Israel. He filed a Supreme Court petition in May of this year to compel the government of Israel to officially declare him a "Prisoner of Zion." This status bestows important rights on the person so recognized, and imposes specific legal obligations upon the government vis-a-vis him or her.
Pollard's request to be recognized as a Prisoner of Zion was turned down in the past on the grounds that America is not an enemy regime, and that being jailed for "spying," even on behalf of Israel, is not an act that qualifies one as a Prisoner of Zion. The current petition claims that this is not an appropriate distinction in general, and that in the Pollard case specifically, America is acting as an "enemy" and not as a "friend of Israel."
The petition asks the High Court to investigate the United States' violation of Pollard's plea-bargain agreement, his unprecedented life-sentence, and the cruel and unusual punishment to which he has been subjected. It also reveals detailed episodes of abuse and torture that Pollard has endured in U.S. prisons over the last 20 years.
Moreover, the lawsuit seeks a judicial review of what Pollard calls the Israeli government's "calculated mishandling" of his case for the last two decades, as well as its "consistent refusal to mount an effective campaign to secure his freedom, as it has done for agents captured in other countries, including Cyprus, Switzerland, Jordan, and New Zealand."
Pollard is represented in the High Court by Israeli attorney Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, and Attorney Larry Dub is 'of counsel.' Darshan-Leitner will be accompanied by Jonathan's wife Esther, who is prepared to provide first-hand details of the harsh and even inhumane treatment to which her husband has been subjected.
Darshan-Leitner notes that Pollard's previous petitions to the High Court resulted in the Government of Israel first recognizing Pollard nationally, as a citizen (1996); then recognizing him militarily, as an agent who served the security services of the State under the auspices of the Ministry of Defense (1998); and now hopefully morally, by requesting the Government to recognize him as a Prisoner of Zion.
The High Court petition argues: "The unprecedented and disproportionate life-sentence that was imposed upon Jonathan Pollard . . . the stubborn refusal of the United States to release him from jail . . . the torture and afflictions that Pollard has endured and continues to endure in various penal facilities, and the denial of his legitimate and basic human rights - are all derived from the fact that he is a Jewish soldier in the service of the Jewish State." Darshan-Leitner said it's not only the U.S. that's to blame: "We are asking the High Court to review the Israeli government's 20-year policy of betrayal, willful deceit and cowardice in the case of this captured intelligence agent. The government's denial of Prisoner of Zion status to Jonathan Pollard is symptomatic of its fear of the Americans and permits it to continue to ignore judicial misconduct and physical mistreatment of our agent by the United States. Israel must be compelled to treat Pollard as it would any other captured agent, and to spare no effort in achieving his immediate release."