Ex-Refuseniks And Others Slam Supreme Court Decision
Hillel Fendel - Arutz7 News - January 17, 2006
Angry and bitter reactions continue to be heard, against the Supreme Court's rejection of Jonathan Pollard's plea to be recognized as a Prisoner of Zion.
"The Supreme Court continues to stoop before the nations of the world, abandoning loyal Israeli citizens who are at the mercy of hostile foreign legal systems," said MK Gila Finkelstein (National Religious Party). "I am ashamed to be under the cold and cruel judicial network of the [Israeli] Supreme Court, from which justice and compassion have long been missing."
Finkelstein, and other public figures with similar reactions, were referring to yesterday's Supreme Court ruling turning down Jonathan Pollard's request to be recognized by Israel as a Prisoner of Zion. [For information on the Pollard case, see jonathanpollard.org]
Pollard's lawyer Nitsana Darshan-Leitner explained that his request had enumerated all the tortures he has undergone in U.S. prison: "His treatment in jail has included electric whips, gas sprays, ice-cold showers, and often, no ability to communicate with the outside world..."
Speaking with Arutz-7, she explained that recognition as a Prisoner of Zion would have put an end to his mistreatment: "The U.S. relates to him now merely as a regular criminal, and not even as a political prisoner. This leads to all the restrictions and hardships and tortures. But if he was a Prisoner of Zion, the Israeli government would be required to monitor his treatment and would have more legal responsibility to ensure his safety."
In January 2005, Pollard's request to be recognized as an official Prisoner of Zion was turned down by the official Prisoners of Zion Authority [Justice4JP: The PoZ Authority which turned Pollard down is a committee belonging to the Israeli Government Ministry of Immigrant Absorption. This committee is not the Prisoners of Zion Organization, an NGO which represents all of the Prisoners of Zion, and which officially recognizes Jonathan Pollard as one of its own.] In May, Pollard turned for redress to the Supreme Court - but yesterday, eight months later, it turned him down.
The three-justice panel of the High Court - Chief Justice Aharon Barak, and Justices Eliezer Rivlin and Salim Jubran - ruled that Pollard did not meet two criteria required to be recognized as a
P-o-Z: He did not carry out Zionist activities in a country where such activities are forbidden, nor was he imprisoned in an enemy country.
Pollard had maintained that in his case, the U.S. is acting as an "enemy" and not as a "friend of Israel." Backing this up, Darshan-Leitner noted that Pollard's life sentence - for passing
information to Israel, classified by the US as a friendly nation - is unprecedented in its severity. Persons convicted of actions similar to, or even more serious than, Pollard's generally serve only 4-7 years in prison, while Pollard is currently in his 21st year of a life sentence.
Regarding the Court's determination that Pollard's activities were not Zionistic, many public figures ridiculed this. Former P-o-Z Yosef Mendlevitch, who spent 11 years in Soviet prison for trying to hijack a plane to Israel, said, "I thank G-d that Israel's Supreme Court didn't deal with my release from prison, otherwise I would likely still be rotting in prison even now. Pollard carried out a Zionist activity of the first degree, whereas the Supreme Court perpetrated an anti-Zionist act perpetuating one of the moral injustices casting a stain over the entire country."
The Committee to Bring Jonathan Pollard Home said, "The people do not need the Supreme Court's stamp of approval to know that one who acted with great self-sacrifice on behalf of the State of Israel and sat in prison for more than two decades is a Prisoner of Zion. History will judge all those who lend a hand to his abandonment."
The Court's ruling states, "We must not diminish from the admiration for Pollard's activities and
contributions on behalf of the State of Israel. In light of the heavy price he has paid over the course of many years, it is not easy to reject his request... As one who acted at the behest of the State and for the State, and as one who paid and pays a heavy price for this, his request his understandable. But the [law] as formulated today cannot help him. It is possible that the State would do well to act in different ways to grant him the symbolic recognition for which he
pines for his activities on behalf of the State."
Jonathan and Esther Pollard released of their own, in which they relate to the ruling in general and some of the above claims in particular. Excerpts:
"The circle of betrayal is complete. The betrayal of Jonathan Pollard by the Government of Israel, by the Ministry of Defense, and by the Knesset has now been officially rubber-stamped by the High Court of Justice.
"...History will not need to judge whether or not Jonathan Pollard is a Prisoner of Zion; but it will certainly judge how the High Court of Justice treated Pollard. It is clear to every single Israeli with a heart and a sense of justice, that Jonathan Pollard has served the State of Israel for 21 years; that he is a Prisoner of Zion; and that he certainly deserved better than this from the country he served...
"The Pollards are dismayed by the court's written decision which memorializes deeply damaging Government lies, without a shred of evidence! The written decision falsely claims that the Government of Israel is financially supporting Jonathan Pollard and his wife, paying
for his attorneys, and generally taking care of the couple. Every claim is a complete and utter falsehood. In official documents held by the Pollards, the Government has repeatedly admitted that the Pollards are not receiving (nor they have they ever received) any financial support from the Government of Israel. The Pollards live in abject penury, dependent on the kindness of a few friends to survive. None of Pollard's attorneys, in the US or in Israel, has been paid for
work on his behalf.
"The Pollards deplore the court's suggestion that the government invent a 'symbolic status' for him. In its written decision, the Court facetiously suggested that the Government come up with some new 'symbolic status' for Jonathan Pollard, one that would not oblige it
in any way...
"The Pollards are shocked by the sophistry the court used to deny Jonathan's petition. The Court's written decision claims that Pollard, an official Israeli agent, who spied for Israel cannot be
granted Prisoner of Zion Status because he was not arrested as a Jew; and because espionage is a felony, not a Zionist activity. It further states that only one who is arrested as a Jew for an activity which encourages Aliyah, but which is considered illegal in the country of
arrest, can be considered a Prisoner of Zion. This flies in the face of historical precedent and fact.
"Israel's best known Prisoner of Zion, former cabinet minister Natan Sharansky is a convicted spy and felon. Sharanksy was arrested, indicted, convicted and incarcerated in the Soviet Union on charges of spying for the US. Yet he is recognized by the State of Israel as a Prisoner of Zion.
"So too MK Yuli Edelstein and Rabbi Yosef Mendelevitch. Both Edelstein and Mendelevitch are felons convicted of serious crimes in the USSR. Mendelevitch was convicted of conspiracy to hijack an aircraft and fly it to Israel! Yet these 'convicted felons' are recognized by the State
of Israel as Prisoners of Zion.
"...The Court essentially dismissed the sacrifice of such great heroes of Zionism as Eli Cohen, Chana Senesh and Sarah Abramson, in virtually ruling that espionage on behalf of the State of Israel - for its protection, defense and its very existence - is criminal, not Zionist. A great disservice was done to Israel's intelligence community and to its recruitment services by this judgment.
"The Court simply turned a blind eye to Jonathan Pollard's documented claims of harsh treatment and abuse and to the anti-Semitic nature of his life sentence. It demonstrated a complete unwillingness to extend the same consideration to him that the Government of Israel routinely
extends to murderers and terrorists -- which it is now poised to extend to multiple murderers Marwan Barghouti and Samir Kuntar -- treating them as Prisoners of War, in order to free them.
"But the High Court of Israel could not find it in its heart to grant Jonathan Pollard the status of Prisoner of Zion, to which he is fully entitled, not even to save the life of an Israeli agent. Justice has not been served."