Jonathan Pollard's Open Letter to Natan Sharansky: Step Down and Stand Aside!
Special to IMRA - June 20, 2004 - [May be reprinted with attribution]
When I was a little boy, living in Galveston Texas, our home faced a swamp. Many unsavory things crawled out of that swamp and wanted to come live in our front yard. I remember once watching a large horned toad come hopping down the road. As a little boy, I was fascinated by this creature and wanted to bring it into our yard, to examine it more closely, to adopt it as a pet. My mother, may she rest in peace, saw the gleam in my eye fixed on that toad, and she intercepted me. She warned me not to bring such creatures into our home; that they have a tendency to swarm and take over any place they are invited; and that I would live to regret my hospitality. It was good advice.
This story came to mind recently when I realized that I was given similarly good advice by close friends in the Russian Jewish community which, unfortunately, I did not take.
This year, after nearly 2 decades of indifference to my plight, you suddenly expressed an interest in my case. When I learned of your interest, I immediately reached out and invited you to visit me.
My friends in the Russian Jewish community were very opposed to our prison meeting. They warned me that I would rue the day that I invited you in, and that a day would come when I would wish I had let you remain indifferent and uninvolved. Much to my regret, I did not heed their good advice.
Today, you are the minister in charge of the Pollard case, and the damage that you have done and continue to do while wearing that mantle is immeasurable. How I would welcome your indifference once again!
For example, when we met in February of this year, I made it very clear to you that engaging with enemies of this case anywhere but in court, would be foolhardy and akin to disturbing a hornet's nest. In spite of your promises not to do so, you ignored my warnings, broke your word to me, and went off to meet some of my most bitter enemies in the American intelligence community.
Did you meet with them to forewarn them of my renewed legal efforts? You certainly did not meet with them for my sake! All you accomplished in doing so was to give them advance warning to regroup against me. None of these people are in a position to free me, but they are in a position to block my release. Thanks to you, that is what they continue to do with renewed vigor.
In a 16 June 2004 report (Spy Stories by Uri Dan - Jerusalem Post 06/16/04) it was claimed that you recently met with Caspar Weinberger and that he reportedly said that my continued incarceration is desirable in order to deter other friendly countries from spying in America. What nonsense!
If indeed my continued incarceration is meant to send a message, the message is exclusively intended for Israel and the American Jewish community. I am the only one in the history of the U.S. who has ever received a life sentence for spying on behalf of an American ally.
Robert Kim, for example, a Korean American who spied for South Korea, was charged with virtually the same offense as I was. He got 9 years. Kim served only 7 years and was set free last week. Compare that with the 19 years that I have served in prison on behalf of the Jewish State!
Another example is that of Lieutenant Commander Michael Schwartz. Schwartz, a non-Jewish American naval officer who spied for Saudi Arabia, got not a single day in prison. Schwartz lost his Navy rank and pension, but got no jail time for virtually the same offense for which I got life!
It is painfully obvious from these examples and many more, that the reason I am still in prison has nothing to do with deterring other friendly countries from spying in the U.S., and everything to do with Ariel Sharon's callous indifference to my plight and his sub rosa policy of abandonment. By lending yourself as cover for Mr. Sharon's treachery to an Israeli agent, you are complicit in keeping me buried alive.
Natan, you have confided in our key activists that the Prime Minister will do nothing to help me. You told my wife - back when you still deigned to speak with her - to be glad that Sharon appointed a committee to oversee my case. When Esther told you that I call the committee "The Chevra Keddishe" ("The Burial Society") you said that you agreed with me! But publicly you admit no such thing about this nefarious committee, and you continue to lend credence to the lie that Uri Dan is promoting, namely that Sharon is trying to secure my release.
In a letter of 19 February 2004, I wrote to you:
"It is with an overwhelming sense of weariness and a deep sense of sadness that I must tell you that Esther and I have had too many years of experience not to recognize the signs that we are seeing since you returned to Israel you appear to have been seduced into the usual establishment pattern of all talk, no action...The urgency to actwhich you clearly understood while we were together has been replaced by delay, excuses, and futile proposals."
In a letter of 11 March 2004 I reiterated the above and wrote:
"Since I wrote this (the above), things have only gotten worse. Therefore I am writing to suggest that the honorable thing for you to do is to resign."
In the same letter I also wrote the following:
"In spite of your repeated promises to act immediately to implement this 3 point agenda you continue to provide the Prime Minister with cover as he refuses to formulate a government policy on my case, and you yourself refuse to formulate one.
"Similarly, you refuse to expend any effort to formalize my captivity status, which, as you well know, is the only way that my rights will be assured and the only way that the Government's obligations to me will ever be put into practice
"Instead of calling for the dissolution of the "Chevra Keddishe" - the Interministerial Committee appointed by the Prime Minister to keep me buried alive - you have teamed up with them.
"You accepted the title as head of the Pollard Committee to secure my release, knowing full well that this title conferred neither the power nor the authority to do anything meaningful to secure my release. Despite our repeated warnings, you have adopted the same policies and practices of those who have prolonged my incarceration for the last 18 years.
"At a recent meeting of the Conference of Presidents in Jerusalem, you colluded with the Prime Minister not to reveal your appointment as the new Head of the Pollard Committee. This was the perfect time and place to announce your appointment and a renewed press for my release. Yet you and the PM deliberately dismissed the opportunity to make the announcement and to enlist the support of the Conference of Presidents
"And instead of the close cooperation and collaboration of which you assured me during our prison visit, your office complains to my Jerusalem attorney, criticizing me for expressing concerns or for trying to redirect your efforts in a constructive direction He was told:" we will do what we want!"
"Today was the final straw! A new Pollard Law which has been drafted by your colleagues in the Knesset Lobbycalls for no relief for me, no change in the status quo of government inactivity, no government policy, no formalization of my captivity status, nothing to further my release one iota. But, it does legislate four and-a-half million shekels per year for your office for 'Pollard activities'
"As head of the Committee to secure my release, it was your job to know about this law, and to see to it that it was designed to do exactly that - to secure my release - not to provide additional funds for your office." (See full text of this letter.)
Natan, you never had the courtesy to respond to any of my above letters or to my faxes, or phone calls from my attorney or my wife
On 23 May 2004, when I learned from my own contacts that the American Ambassador, Daniel Kurtzer, had issued instructions (which he confirmed to you) that Israel should make an immediate formal request for my release, I again wrote to you. I asked you to take immediate action to ensure that the Prime Minister would follow through on this important American outreach. I also asked you to let me know what steps you had taken and what the response of the Prime Minister was. No doubt, by now the window of opportunity, so long ignored, has closed. Again, I have not had so much as the courtesy of reply.
Esther and I are deeply disappointed that you would so sorely abuse our trust and dishonor the critical responsibility that was conferred upon you. You have left us no option but to request that you immediately resign as the minister in charge of my case, and that you desist from all further activity on my behalf.
I did not want to call for your resignation publicly. But your lack of responsiveness, your unwillingness to speak with me or my representatives - my wife and my attorney Larry Dub - leave me no choice.
This time, Natan, the least you owe me and the Jewish Nation, is the courtesy of a reply.
Deeply disappointed, I remain,