Jonathan and the Judge
A Final Chapter in the Pollard Case?
Text of Esther Pollard's Speech
Young Israel Beit Knesset Hanassi, Jerusalem
September 6, 2006 B"H / 13 Ellul 5766
Jonathan and I would like to extend our profound gratitude to the National Council of Young Israel, the only Jewish Organization in America devoted to the Mitzvah of Pidyan Shvuyim, and the only Jewish Organization in America which has stood by Jonathan and me, throughout this terrible ordeal. Our thanks as well to the Past President, the President and the Board of Hanassi (Young Israel) Beit Knesset for inviting me to speak here tonight.
On a sunny winter day, early in the New Year 2006, one of the most historic meetings we have ever had on this case took place in Jerusalem.
Jonathan and I have never before breathed a word about our meeting with Israel's State Comptroller, Judge Micha Lindenstrauss. Tonight we would like to share that experience with you.
For years Jonathan has appealed to one State Comptroller after another to investigate the Government's mishandling of his case. All his appeals were rejected with flimsy excuses. Consequently, we had pretty much despaired of ever getting a hearing. That is why it was so exciting when Israel's newest State Comptroller, Judge Micha Lindenstrauss, responded positively to our request for a meeting.
Israel's State Comptroller, also known as the Mivaker HaMidina, has broad powers of oversight and the right to investigate every government office, decision and process. No individual or office in this country is exempt from the Mivaker's probe and all are compelled by law to respond to his questions and provide whatever information is requested.
The ultimate goal of an investigation by the State Comptroller is the publication of a public report. The report is intended to bring to light those areas or issues that must be rectified, with a view to improving Government efficiency; safe-guarding the interests of the public; protecting the rights of the individual; and eliminating government waste, graft, corruption, and cronyism.
Our long-awaited meeting with Judge Lindenstrauss took place on February 23, 2006 at the offices of the Mivaker HaMidina. I was accompanied by Larry Dub, Jonathan's Jerusalem attorney.
As if to underscore the seriousness of the meeting, Judge Lindenstrauss had invited all of his extended executive staff to attend, the heads of every State office under his auspices - from the State Ombudsman to the head of the State Legal Department, about half a dozen people in all.
At the outset of the meeting, I presented Judge Lindenstrauss with a personal message from Jonathan and then with a file of documented information regarding the issues that Jonathan wanted to bring to the judge's attention.
Delivering Jonathan's message took about 15 minutes. It removed any doubt about Jonathan's awareness of the meeting and underscored his deep appreciation for the Mivaker's willingness to receive us. It was my job for the next 2 hours to expand on the issues that Jonathan had touched on.
I would like briefly to review for you some of the facts that were presented to Judge Lindenstrauss.
- My husband, Jonathan Pollard, is an Israeli agent in captivity, currently completing his 21st year of a life sentence for his service to the security of The State of Israel.
- The information that Jonathan provided to Israel included Iranian, Iraqi, Libyan and Syrian nuclear, chemical, and biological warfare capabilities - all being developed for use against Israel. He also provided information on ballistic missile development by these countries and information on up-coming terrorist attacks planned against Israeli civilian targets.
- Israel was legally entitled to this vital security information according to a 1983 Memorandum of Understanding signed by both countries. But the information was deliberately being withheld from Israel as the result of an illegal intelligence embargo implemented by former Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger and former Deputy Director of the CIA Admiral Bobby Ray Inman, whose pro-Arab tilt did not jibe with declared US foreign policy.
- In the beginning Jonathan volunteered his services and only later did he become a bona fide agent on behalf of the State of Israel. His zeal to save Israeli lives was his sole motivation. Even the sentencing judge - who was no friend of the case - recognized that Jonathan was an ideologue, not a mercenary, and therefore declined to impose a monetary fine.
- From the time that Jonathan was first arrested in 1985, Israel denied all ties to him, and cooperated fully with the American prosecution to secure a life sentence for him.
- For its own shameful reasons the American Jewish leadership endorsed and perpetuated Israel's lies. On March 10, 1987 - six days after my husband was sentenced to Life in complete violation of a plea agreement which Jonathan honored and the US abrogated - the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations sent a letter to the US State Department promising never to interfere on his behalf. The Conference has kept that promise with religious zeal. (A copy of their letter appears on our web site.)
- Despite the passage of 21 years and innumerable opportunities, Israel's lies continue to govern this case, and effectively to keep Jonathan in prison.
- Israel cravenly handed over to the US all of the evidence that was used against Jonathan. Without this evidence, the US had no case, and would have been forced to set him free.
- In betraying Jonathan and by handing over the evidence, Israel earned for itself the dishonorable distinction of becoming the first and only country in the history of modern espionage ever to assist in the indictment and prosecution of its own agent!
- Israel paid the lawyer who secured a life sentence for Jonathan, without benefit of trial. The median sentence for the offense Jonathan had committed was 2 to 4 year sentence - not Life!
- This was the same lawyer, paid by the Government of Israel, who failed to file a simple Notice of Intent to Appeal, forever depriving Jonathan of his right to appeal his Life sentence.
- By contrast, to this day Israel has steadfastly refused to pay a cent to the lawyers who, unlike the above-mentioned lawyer, are trying to help Jonathan to secure his release from prison.
- Even though Jonathan fought and succeeded in forcing the State of Israel to officially acknowledge him as her agent, the State's attitude towards him and its resolute abandonment of him has not changed at all in 21 years.
- The State of Israel has never taken the most minimal steps - legal, moral, or diplomatic to secure Jonathan's release.
- To this day, Israel has never officially informed the White House, the Justice, Intelligence or State Departments that Jonathan is an Israeli agent and that Israel intends to seek his release. Consequently the American Justice Department continues to regard him only as a common criminal, not as an Israeli agent, and to treat him accordingly.
- To this day the State of Israel has never sought the assistance of American congressmen or senators on Jonathan's case, and for 2 decades it has calculatedly avoided engaging AIPAC or any other effective lobby organization on his behalf.
- In 21 years Israel has never done any hasbara for the public in Israel or in the US to explain its position on Jonathan's case or to promote his release - as it routinely does to explain every other matter of importance to the State.
- For 21 years, the State of Israel has deliberately attempted to prevent the Israeli public from knowing about Jonathan. A good indicator of the Government's attitude towards Jonathan is reflected in the Ministry of Education's refusal to include his plight in the regular school curriculum. The Ministry of Education Library and Archives (which teachers use for research) contains absolutely no information whatsoever about Jonathan! Not a single reference!
- When Jonathan's former handler, Rafi Eitan, ran for Knesset earlier this year, it put the lie to the Government's long-standing claim that pressing for Jonathan's release might somehow damage Israel's relationship with the US. Indeed the Government of Israel demonstrated no compunction whatsoever about possible damage to US-Israel relations or to Jonathan's situation when immediately upon his election, it appointed Rafi Eitan as a minister
- The Government's appointment of Eitan as minister was done with the full knowledge that the Americans regard Eitan as an unindicted co-conspirator in the affair and that he had played a key role in the betrayal of Jonathan Pollard, even providing false testimony to the Americans which had doomed Jonathan.
- From the time Jonathan was first arrested, the only consistent "plan" Israel has ever had for his release is to bring him home in a coffin. This fact has been confirmed for us over and over again for the last 21 years by various officials and events.
- Jonathan miraculously survived the first 7 years of his incarceration in solitary confinement, in barbaric conditions in a dungeon cell 3 stories underground at USP Marion and then waged his own battle - without any help from the State of Israel - to be moved to open population at FCI Butner.
- Just shortly after his move to FCI Butner in the spring of 1993, Israel sent a Mossad agent to Jonathan on official business. Instead of presenting Jonathan with a plan for securing his release, the Mossad agent came armed with an official request that Jonathan kill himself. "Committing suicide," Jonathan was informed, would "solve the Pollard problem" for the State of Israel.
- The Israeli policy which wants to bring Jonathan Pollard home in a coffin, G-d forbid, continues to this day, and illuminates the Israeli Government's calculated consistency in missing every opportunity to secure Jonathan's release.
- Instead, successive Governments of Israel have routinely exploited Jonathan's name and his plight, using it as a sweetener to sell unpopular unilateral concessions to the Israeli public. But when crunch time comes, Jonathan is always dropped from every deal and painful unilateral concessions to the enemy are made regardless. (Some examples include the Hebron Accords, the Wye Accords, and most recently the Disengagement from Gaza and northern Samaria).
- In Washington it is an open secret that Jonathan's sentence is grossly disproportionate and purely political. This was confirmed in a 2002 interview with former Secretary of Defense, the late Caspar Weinberger. Weinberger openly admitted that Jonathan's case was a "minor matter" that had been exaggerated out of all proportion to serve another political agenda. The opening that this admission created to secure Jonathan's release was totally ignored.
- Similarly Dennis Ross, the former US Special Envoy to the Middle East, stated in his book "The Missing Peace" (published in 2004) that Jonathan deserves to be freed unconditionally. Nevertheless, writes Ross, Pollard is far too valuable as a bargaining chip against Israel, so he advised the president at Wye not to release him. Still no response from Israel.
- In point of fact, Israel has already "paid" for Jonathan's release several times over (including freeing 750 murderers and terrorists with blood on their hands as part of the Wye Accords), but has never bothered to collect its due.
- In the 21 years that Jonathan has been in prison, he has repeatedly been subjected to cruel and unusual punishment and severe affliction. The Government of Israel has been informed of each and every episode of mistreatment of its agent but has never once intervened on his behalf, nor has the Government ever protested.
- Jonathan's first court appearance in the US in 2 decades took place in the year 2003. Israel did not even bother to send a representative. Instead, on the eve of Jonathan's court hearing, Israel's consular representative in New York who was given the task of officially responding to the media, slandered Jonathan on American national television thus sending a clear message to the judge that Jonathan is "hefker" and that no one in Israel cares what is done with him.
- Israel's intent never to bring Jonathan home alive, is reflected in the immoral and mean-spirited way that the State relates to me, his wife.
- As the wife of an Israeli agent, the fact that I remain homeless and penniless speaks volumes about the State's attitude towards Jonathan.
- Compare this with the case of an Israeli drug dealer, a family friend of a Prime Minister, who was taken captive while pursuing his own illicit interests, and not in the service of the State. Both his wife and his mistress and their two respective families received full support for the duration of his captivity. I on the other hand, receive no help whatsoever and am dependent for my survival on the kindness of a few friends.
- Moreover, I am cancer survivor. I have no medical insurance and I receive no medical assistance whatsoever from the State of Israel. In fact, when I recently tried to buy basic medical coverage on my own, I was rejected by Kupat Cholim. The manner in which I was rejected strongly suggested that they were fearful that accepting Pollard's wife might somehow jeopardize the Kupah's government funding.
- Compare this also with the Government's recent gesture to the citizens of Lebanon offering them free medical treatment in Israel in spite of their possible participation in the recent war against Israel. An enemy alien can receive medical assistance in Israel, but the wife of an Israeli agent in captivity cannot!
- Worse still, the Government brazenly lies to the Supreme Court and to the Israeli public when it repeatedly claims to be supporting Jonathan and me financially. We presented documented proof to Judge Lindenstrauss that in 21 years, neither Jonathan nor I have ever received a cent from the Government of Israel.
- The bottom line is that for 21 years, the State of Israel has stubbornly denied granting Jonathan any status that would bring him or his wife any assistance, or relief, or the possibility of securing his release.
- Even though Jonathan fought for and obtained official recognition as an agent, his name does not appear on the Ministry of Defense's list of captives, thus depriving him of all of his rights as an agent in captivity.
- The State also refuses to grant him status as a Prisoner of Zion, again depriving him of any rights that might accrue and, more importantly, depriving him of the protections this status would afford him.
- By denying Jonathan status within the official framework governed by the Ministry of Defense (as a Shavui); or by the Internal Affairs Ministry (as a PoZ); the State of Israel has relegated Jonathan to the status of a person who does not officially exist and who therefore, can effectively be ignored to death.
These facts and documented information were presented to the Mivaker HaMidina, Judge Micha Lindenstrauss, on that fateful day in February when after years and years of waiting, a new State Comptroller received us and seemed to embrace the case.
The meeting was a great success! It had originally been scheduled to last 1 hour, but went on for some
2 hours before it was reluctantly concluded -- and even then, only because we all had other commitments. I went straight from the meeting with the Mivaker HaMidina, to report personally to Jonathan's rav, HaRav Mordecai Eliyahu, shlita. He was as delighted as we were with the reception and the commitment we had received from the Mivaker. He and all of our closest associates were especially buoyed to hear about the warm wishes and blessings we received from Judge Lindenstrauss and his executive staff.
I remember one of the last things that I said to Judge Lindenstrauss before saying good-bye. I told him, "We do not expect you to secure Jonathan's release, but your investigation may be an important part of the process of bringing it about. Your public report has the potential to shine a light on this case that has never been shone, and in that way to be a catalyst for Jonathan's freedom. But, even if your report results in no direct advantage for Jonathan, it must be written in order to ensure that what happened to Jonathan never ever again happens to anyone else who serves the State of Israel."
Judge Lindenstrauss seemed to understand; he responded warmly and reassuringly, and promised to investigate. He promised that he and his staff would stay in touch and would contact us if they needed any further information. We were deeply touched by his words of support and encouragement; and by his and his executive staff's warmth and enthusiasm.
That was six months ago.
On August 17th, Jonathan used up a week's worth of his precious telephone minutes to dictate a personal letter to Judge Lindenstrauss. In it Jonathan reiterated the facts that I have shared with you tonight, and he added:
"[Judge Lindenstrauss] with the exception of a brief message we received in March of this year (5 months ago) from one of your staff, saying that you are investigating, there has not been a word from you or your office since then. My situation in the meantime only continues to deteriorate. Every day that I survive is a complete miracle.May we know the status of your investigation, and when you anticipate publishing your findings? Yours truly, Jonathan Pollard."
A few days later, on August 23rd Jonathan and I received a reply. The very brief response was signed by the "Senior Assistant to the State Comptroller and International Liaison" and echoed virtually the same unmistakable message we have gotten from Israeli Government officials for the last 21 years: The matter is being handled. Don't call us; we'll call you.
I am sharing this with you tonight, because it is anecdotally representative of the last 21 years that Jonathan has been slowly bleeding to death in prison, in full view of the State of Israel and its elected and appointed officials, and in full view of the Jewish People.
Why does it matter that my husband continues to languish in prison after 21 years in some of the harshest of conditions?
Why should the fate of one individual be of concern to anyone - especially when so much time has passed, and there are now seemingly "more pressing problems" such as the impending threat of another outbreak of war, and the fate of Israel's 3 latest captive soldiers?
It matters because the fate of my husband, Jonathan Pollard, is the miner's canary of the moral health and welfare of the People of Israel. A State that first betrays and then abandons its own agent for more than 2 decades and then relegates him to the dustbin of history while it moves on to other exploits is a State that is morally bankrupt. And a State that is morally bankrupt will not be able to fulfill its People's highest national aspirations, nor will it ever be capable of commanding the kind of moral resolve needed to bring its captives home.
As Jonathan himself recently wrote in a letter to the families of the 3 newly captive soldiers:
"fighting for the return of a captive requires a moral basis. It requires a commitment to G-d, country and fellow man. It requires the kind of morality that the State of Israel no longer seems to have When there is no moral basis for the return of a captive, there is of course no moral resolve, no determination to succeed, and as result no effective action is taken. This creates a vacuum which the politicians love to fill with empty words and empty promises..."
While we cannot say with certainty when the State of Israel became detached from its moral roots and the People from our commitment to each other, we do know that the moral decay was there 21 years ago when Jonathan was thrown out of the Israeli Embassy in Washington and into the waiting arms of the FBI.
That moral failure, that on-going sin against a loyal son of Israel who served the State and its People, has gone unchallenged and unrepaired for 21 years. It hangs like a curse over the Nation. It spawned the abandonment of Ron Arad, Zachary Baummel, Tzvi Feldman, Yehuda Katz, and Guy Hever. It bred the callous abandonment of Mudhat Yosuf who was wounded on the field of battle and left to bleed to death at Kever Yosef in Shchem.
It is the same moral failure that conceived and implemented the inhumane expulsion and destruction of Gush Katif and northern Samaria; and more recently facilitated the abandonment of all of the citizens of northern Israel. It is the same moral failure which has given birth to a culture of empty words and broken promises which subsequent Governments of Israel have perfected to a high art.
It is the same moral failure that now also threatens the lives of Gilead Shalit, Eldad Regev, and Ehud Goldwasser.
As long as we allow Jonathan to continue to rot in prison, and we act as if his fate is of no consequence to us, the poison will continue to seep into our national consciousness and continue to destroy the fabric of our society as a moral and just People, as a Light unto the Nations.
As long as we do not rectify the problem at its root by bringing Jonathan home, this culture of abandonment will continue its relentless march onward, as the government openly plans for the next round of uprooting, betrayal and abandonment of its loyal citizens and communities.
You may have come here tonight to be entertained, or because the subject was of interest, or you may have come because you always come when there is a program at Beit Knesset Hanassi. But, if my message has reached your heart, you must leave here tonight knowing that each of us owes a debt of gratitude to Jonathan Pollard and that each of us bears a personal responsibility for his fate.
Redemption of Israel's longest-held captive, Jonathan Pollard, cannot help but lead to redemption for all of Israel and for all of her captives, for it lies at the heart of the matter. No one person alone can save Jonathan, but each of us has something to contribute. Not a single person is exempt from doing whatever he or she can - be it prayer both public and private, or hanging Pollard balcony banners, or participating in activities to raise the public profile of the case, or contributing to activities of
The Committee to Bring Jonathan Pollard Home (they are the only group in Israel totally coordinated with Jonathan) or supporting the National Council of Young Israel's deeply appreciated efforts to assist Jonathan with his needs in prison. Even at this late date, I urge you all to become involved, as much for your own sakes as for that of Jonathan and the Nation.
As Jonathan writes in his letter to the families of the captive soldiers,
"We cannot, we must not allow this culture of abandonment to go on! The People of Israel must find the emotional strength to return to the path of arevut hadaddeet (mutual responsibility). We must rekindle and recapture our strength as nation that stands united [and as a nation that has] at its root, the moral resolve necessary to be utterly committed to not surrendering to evil, and to absolutely never abandoning a brother in time of trouble If we can do this, and I believe we can, then we may once again be worthy of the blessing of Heaven - as we were at Entebbe- and be worthy of the swift return home of all of Zion's prisoners."
May G-d bless us all, and may we soon see the speedy release of Jonathan
Gilad, Eldad and Ehud, along with all of Israel's captives and MIA's! Amain!
For additional information see also: