Jonathan Pollard Statement Re Bush-Sharon Meeting

Aaron Lerner - IMRA Exclusive - March 18, 2001

IMRA asked Jonathan Pollard to respond to comments made on Kol Yisrael Radio this weekend advising Prime Minister Sharon not to bring up the issue of his release in his meeting with President Bush for fear of introducing "unpleasantness" into the atmosphere.

In formulating its question to Jonathan Pollard, IMRA referred to a statement made to IMRA today by the Prime Minister's spokesperson, Raanan Gissin. IMRA asked Gissin if the Pollard issue was on the agenda for the meeting between Sharon and Bush. Gissin responded that it was still on the agenda but that he could not say when it would be brought up or even if it would be brought up with Bush directly.

This is how Jonathan Pollard responded:

"No Government of Israel has ever pursued this case as a matter of national priority. Even in those instances when people like Binyamin Netanyahu seemed to have been on the verge of securing my release they were never willing to push the matter to the point where they could be successful.

The Americans understand this kind of tentative support very well and act accordingly.

If Prime Minister Sharon is not willing to make a clear and unambiguous case for my release and repatriation at this first meeting with President Bush then he will never be ready for it.

If the current government of Israel thinks that the Bush Administration will work with Israel on other matters that they consider to be more important particularly vis-a-vis Iraq and Iran and then as a result they don't want to "spoil the atmosphere" by bringing me up then they are really setting themselves up for a real disappointment.

First of all American foreign policy is focused towards Iraq. Containing Iraq not protecting Israel per se. If we know anything about the current American government it is that they will sacrifice Israel's security in order to contain Iraq.

So the issue here is exactly when and not if America will cut her losses with Israel and basically sacrifice her security for some other national security goal in the Middle East, as they did in the Gulf War.

The other issue to remember in this matter is that the Israeli Government decided to run the operation that I was engaged in because of a betrayal of Israel precisely over the issue of Iraq - the threat posed by Iraq.

And nothing has changed.

Just as America blind-sided Israel before the Gulf War to the dangers posed by Iraq and just as they essentially allowed Israel to be beaten up during the Gulf War by that same Iraq they have no intention now or in the future of sacrificing their policy of containment vis-a-vis Iraq for the sake of Israel's security.

Israel is regarded as a liability and a burden to this administration. Not an asset. Therefore, unless the Government of Israel pursues my case as a matter of national priority it will simply go down the toilet along with the rest of the U.S.-Israel relationship.

Americans understand a country's support for and commitment to agents and soldiers who are in harm's way. The United States does understand that kind of principle. And if Sharon simply says that we have had eight years of horror from the United States and that we need to set this right that we need to reestablish the relationship and that the best way of doing that is by honoring the commitment made at Wye and releasing our agent and letting him come home - then many other good things will come from that.

But right now if the Americans understand that Israel is willing to sacrifice one agent they will have taken the measure of this Government and found it to be weak and wanting. After that anything could happen to the entire country.

So their support, their dedication to my repatriation, has really less to do with me than it does with impressing the Americans with the Government's commitment to the security of ALL Israelis even one like me being held in an American prison.

You cannot separate my fate from America's pro-Iraqi policies before the Gulf War. Just as the United States has made amends for those pre-war mistakes by adopting this new policy towards Saddam Hussein after the Gulf War I think that the Israelis could make a very good case for saying that "if you made a mistake with regards to Saddam Hussein you also made a mistake in the way you prosecuted our agent, Pollard."

We have a new legal case in the United States and there are many grounds on which the American government can act and can justify some kind of relief in this matter.

But the key thing to remember in all of this is that if the administration does not let me go then it is business as usual not only with regards to Israel but also with regards to America's policy towards Israel in the context of the Iraqi threat.

To the extent that the US is concerned about containing Iraq, they view the Arab- Israeli dispute as a threat to America's ability to organize an effective anti-Saddam coalition in the Arab world. This is the same thing that happened to Israel back then when the the Gulf War was first ignited. That is why the US did not want Israel to defend itself. The US feared that Israel's active role in its own defense might offend the Arabs and deter their participation in a coalition of forces etc. This is the the same cold-blooded mentality that prevails today, where Israel's security is simply not viewed as a US national priority.

The bottom line is: when Israel acts in defense of its own national interests, this is viewed as a threat to US interests in the Middle East. But by failing to act, Israel sets up a situation whereby it forfeits its right to defend its own interests including its own security interests. The fact is, the Americans will either help Israel or not, depending entirely upon Israel's willingness to defend its own interests.

I think right now that what we have to realize is that if this Government does not bring me up as a matter of absolute and unqualified priority then they will have willingly abandoned me. They will have consciously abandoned me in the field. And Sharon will have proven himself to be no better than Barak.

Basically there is no difference between me right now and that poor soldier who was left to bleed at Joseph's Tomb. I am bleeding right now and Sharon has it in his power to rescue me.

Now if he doesn't do this and there is no reason why he can't then he will have my blood on his hands as surely as Ehud Barak has the blood of that poor soldier at Joseph's Tomb.

The whole point of this initiative right now with Bush is that first impressions are the most important and if Sharon doesn't act like a leader of our country then his measure will have been taken and he will have been assessed as weak and a pushover.

Sharon has already made the commitment on CNN to seek my release in his meeting with Bush and if he equivocates on it now, if the Israelis turn this again into a side issue with the Americans then this was just a tactic and a ruse.

Basically I think what people have to understand is that the people running the Pollard case in Israel are the same fools, cowards and corrupt officials who have been undermining our State and our People for years.

Unless a prime minister comes along and says "enough, this has got to stop, I am going to act on behalf of a nation in peril" it will soon see a demoralization of the government and its relationship to the country. Complete and utter demoralization."

Dr. Aaron Lerner, Director IMRA (Independent Media Review & Analysis)

See Also:
  • Jerusalem Post Radio Interview with Esther Pollard
  • Making the Most of Sharon's Meeting with Bush
  • The Facts Page