Responding to "Pollard's War Against His Benefactors"

January 31, 2000 - Ha'aretz

by Esther Pollard


By reading this response, the reader will have a sense of the original Ha'aretz article, the lies it contains, the viciousness of its assertions and the grossness of the exaggerations in it. Ronen Bergman, known for previous smear pieces about Jonathan Pollard signed his name to this piece. The reader, however, is invited to guess who is really behind this vicious attack on Jonathan Pollard. It isn't hard to figure out...

If it were not for the fact that just days from now, on Sunday, February 6, 2000 the Supreme Court of Israel will be announcing its decision in the landmark case of Jonathan Pollard vs. Ehud Barak, there would be no reason to respond to "Pollard's War Against His Benefactors" by Ha'aretz writer Ronen Bergman. With the Court decision looming large, it would be imprudent to witness such a blatant and calculated attempt to discredit Jonathan Pollard's petition to the High Court of Israel without responding to it.

The Ha'aretz article is a curious mix of insanity, cruelty and outright lies.

Insanity: what else can you call it when the author claims that the wife of an Israeli agent has called for an Entebbe style raid on a US prison installation.

Cruelty: what else can it be when the author claims that Pollard, a man who sat quietly in prison for 10 years, and who still sits in prison after 15 years, should go back to waiting quietly for the Government to rescue him. The author threatens that if Pollard doesn't be quiet then he will be left in prison forever. Somehow we can't tell the difference between the threat and the reality.

Outright lies: what else do you call an Israeli bank account for Pollard that does not exist except in the author's imagination. The millions the author claims that the government is investing in Pollard's welfare is also imaginary. Jonathan Pollard does not receive a single cent from the Government of Israel.

There is something truly offensive about the fact that my husband, an Israeli agent - absolutely no one disputes that fact - is not provided with even basic financial support, or even minimal medical support. I carry the full burden of financial responsibility for Jonathan, myself, and for the fight for his freedom. A year ago I was diagnosed with cancer. Since then, I have been unable to work. Our only source of income now is from a small insurance stipend that I receive in Canada. Neither Jonathan nor I receive any financial assistance from the Israeli Government, and neither do we receive any assistance with our medical needs. I must get all of my medical treatments in Canada because there is no provision for me in Israel. Jonathan is not receiving adequate medical care in prison, and the growths that fill his sinus cavities have yet to be biopsied, but no one in Israel seems to care.

Bergman would have the reader believe that Jonathan Pollard is vacationing at some resort in North Carolina, not suffering the indignities of a violent, harsh and anti-Semitic environment in prison. Jonathan has survived 15 years of the harshest prison conditions imaginable, including 7 years in solitary confinement. What Jonathan Pollard has endured makes Ramle Prison - which Bergman touts as the toughest - look like a kindergarten.

Bergman's lies outdo Pollard's enemies in the American Intelligence community. He claims that Jonathan Pollard is not remorseful. The truth is that Jonathan Pollard has expressed remorse for his actions on numerous occasions. But for the likes of Bergman, Pollard can never be sorry enough. Apparently the offense that Jonathan was indicted for - one count of passing classified information to an ally - is not sufficient for Bergman either. He falsely and wickedly accuses Jonathan of "offering his services to other countries". This is an outright lie for which there is not a shred of evidence. This lie clearly tells more about our "fellow countryman" Bergman and his motives than it does about Jonathan Pollard.

Bergman's lies proceed from one absurdity to another. The warden at FCI Butner would be horrified to know that Bergman has identified him as a Jew and would no doubt think that this is some sort of racial slur against him. There have been no Jewish wardens at FCI Butner in all the years that Jonathan Pollard has been there and it is doubtful if there are any in the prison system at all. And unless Bergman is accusing the warden of grabbing Jonathan's tray away while he stands in chow line in the prison dining room, the notion that anyone would accuse the warden of withholding food from Jonathan Pollard is just gut-busting funny!

As for Bergman's accusations that the Pollard team have been unflattering in their references to President Clinton, that too is not quite right. The American media have described this President in terms of his sexual addictions and penchant for stretching the truth to unrecognizable proportions, as in "I did not have sex with that woman". We have had nothing to add to their descriptions.

Perhaps the wildest claim that Bergman makes is that Jonathan Pollard is cut off from the whole world and that his only link to the outside world is through me, his wife. Bergman is either hallucinating or lying through his teeth, and in either case convinces no one. Aside from the highly-publicized run of official visits that Jonathan has had recently with all of New York's top political figures, he has regular daily contact with a number of people including his attorneys, his Toronto office, and other prominent American figures active in the fight for his release.

Bergman goes to great lengths to promote some paranoid vision of our exploiting Jonathan Pollard to further some nebulous political goals, as if Jonathan were some potted plant readily given to exploitation. My wonderful husband, Jonathan Pollard, is a brilliant, articulate, strong-willed, self-determined individual, who survived the harshest conditions prison has to offer only because he is not easy to push around. Instead of all these insane speculations that Bergman makes, is it really so hard to understand that we just want Jonathan home?

If, as Bergman claims, all of Jonathan Pollard's needs are being generously met by the Government of Israel and all of the requests in his petition to the Supreme Court have long since been fulfilled, why has the esteemed Court judged Jonathan Pollard's petition worthy of hearing and worthy of responding to? The answer is that there is not a shred of evidence that the Government of Israel is fulfilling even its most minimal obligations to Jonathan Pollard.

So what is really troubling Ronen Bergman and the people he is fronting for? What is it about Pollard's petition to the High Court of Israel that they find so threatening that it warrants this kind of brutal attack?

Jonathan Pollard's petition to the High Court is a landmark case that seeks to break a dangerous precedent: namely the betrayal and abandonment of an Israeli agent. This case has ramifications for all those who serve the State. If the Government of Israel is allowed to pick and choose which agent it will rescue immediately, and which one will be left to languish in the field eternally, then absolutely no one who serves the State is safe.

As well, if the Government of Israel is allowed to continue its blatant abandonment of Pollard in the most practical terms: cutting off all contact with him; refusing to support him financially; refusing to pay his legal expenses; refusing to secure medical assistance for him; refusing to update him or his representatives, then new precedents are being set which will allow the State to behave this way towards all agents or soldiers captured in the future.

Another important precedent being set in this case is whether or not an agent in captivity has a right to choose his own lawyer. Up until 1994, the government of Israel paid for all of Jonathan Pollard's legal expenses. The severe conflict of interest between the needs of Jonathan Pollard and those of the State, resulted in Pollard's case being badly botched. Finally in 1994 Pollard fired his Israeli-Government paid attorney and hired Larry Dub. The Government responded by cutting off all funding to Pollard. This - including the fact that the previous Government formally thanked Larry Dub for his efforts on behalf of Jonathan Pollard, and commended him for his cooperation with the Government - is a part of the court record.

Neither Jonathan nor his attorneys would be so presumptuous as to tell Ehud Barak how to go about securing the release of an Israeli agent from our closest friend and ally. All that Pollard's attorneys have pointed out to the Israel Supreme Court is that there is a credibility problem with Mr. Barak's claim that he is "quietly" seeking Jonathan Pollard's release. Mr. Barak's efforts are so quiet that David Ivri, the former head of the Israeli National Security Council, and now the new Israeli Ambassador to Washington, recently told us that he knows of no such efforts to secure Jonathan's release and that he is not aware of any Israeli plan to assist Pollard at all.

According to the American constitution, President Clinton can free whoever he wants, whenever he wants without asking permission from anyone - as he recently proved when he freed 16 Puerto Rican terrorists, in spite of the opposition of the CIA, the FBI, and all his government advisors. It is therefore very strange that Mr. Barak claims a need to engage in endless "quiet diplomacy" with who knows whom, when all he has to do is whisper in Mr. Clinton's ear.

Until Jonathan Pollard filed his petition against Ehud Barak in the Supreme Court of Israel, the Government of Ehud Barak refused to talk to Jonathan or to deal with him. He was completely abandoned by the State of Israel. On Sunday, February 6, 2000, the Supreme Court of Israel will rule on the case, and make history, not only for Jonathan Pollard but for every soldier and every single citizen of the State of Israel.

Note: Jonathan Pollard's attorney has formally demanded that Ha'aretz print a retraction and publicly apologize for allowing this libelous article to appear, or face legal action.

See Also:

  • Jonathan Pollard Files Lawsuit Against Ha'aretz
  • Legal Texts Page - Israeli Legal Documents