Interview: Pollard clemency campaign had every advantage, but one

Esther Pollard Interview on Radio Kol Chai

Justice4JPnews - January 21, 2009

In an interview on Radio Kol Chai in Hebrew today Esther Pollard told show host, Gideon Katz, that the Pollard clemency campaign had every advantage but one, and that was the one which ultimately caused it to fail.

Click here to listen to the interview in Hebrew.

Esther Pollard asked Gideon Katz if he could guess what critical advantage the Pollard campaign lacked. He was stumped, so Esther provided the background:

"The public aspect of the Pollard campaign for clemency - telephone calls to the White House, the faxes, the prayer rallies, the internet campaign - was only a small part of the entire operation. The major thrust of the initiative was carried out very quietly behind-the-scenes. It was an amazing operation! We had outstanding professional advisers. We had the very best lawyers. They filed an excellent petition which clearly outlined the injustice of the case and demonstrated the gross disproportionality of the sentence. We worked around the clock lobbying and making the right contacts. We had access to the White House and intensive behind-the-scenes contact. Our representatives met and spoke with high level American officials to make the case and were successful. We had the support of the American Jewish leaders. We had recommendations from those who matter most in the clemency process. We had massive grassroots support and participation in the US and Israel. We left no stone unturned in doing whatever it took to present the best case to the President for commutation of Jonathan's life sentence to the 24 years he has already served."

"So what was missing?" asked the show host.

"The support of the Government of Israel," replied Esther Pollard. "We had every advantage in the world, but we had no support and no participation from the Government of Israel."

Katz expressed his utter amazement at this revelation. He said that that the support of the Government of Israel is such an obvious prerequisite of such a campaign that it was the last thing in the world anyone would imagine was lacking!

Esther Pollard then spoke about the behind-the-scenes efforts that were made to get support for Jonathan's clemency campaign from Israel's leaders, including Olmert, Barak, Livni and Peres, without success. Despite the appeals from Pollard representatives and colleagues, the leaders of the Government of Israel turned their backs on Pollard; and in doing so, sent the strongest possible message to President Bush: 'Forget about Pollard!'

"Remember," said Esther, "Jonathan worked for Israel. Israel is the country that is responsible for him. Israel is the country that has to receive him; and when Israel's leaders demonstrated such an absolute lack of interest or concern for Jonathan, Bush got the message. If the Government of Israel has no interest in the release of its agent, why should Bush bother?"

Esther said that Jonathan was deeply disappointed by Tzippi Livini, who was in Washington just days before Bush left office. Livni, she said, is the darling of the previous American Administration and a bosom buddy of Condoleeza Rice. Livini did not use her visit to White House or her influence to express support for Jonathan Pollard, nor did she in any way, express support for the clemency campaign for his release.

On the same Radio Kol Chai program, Katz also interviewed a student who had just written a letter to President Barak Obama asking him to release Jonathan Pollard.

Esther Pollard responded, thanking the student for her letter and her comments, but said that it was a mistake for the public to think that their hopes should now be turned to Obama. Obama, she said, will not be looking at granting clemency petitions for at least another 4 years, and more likely not for another 8 years. "I don't know if Jonathan is going to survive another 8 days, let alone another 8 years! Jonathan needs to come home NOW!"

Asked by the announcer what needs to be done now, Esther's responded: "The Government of Israel bears responsibility for the fate of all of her operatives in the field in captivity - for Pollard, no less than Shalit. A political arrangement, based on immediate, serious negotiations needs to take place, without delay, to assure that Jonathan comes home now, alive."

J4JP adds: Mrs. Pollard was asked in an unrelated interview this morning with the Maariv Hebrew daily newspaper, if she thinks that Bibi Netanyahu would do better for Jonathan Pollard if he were elected Prime Minister. She replied, "I do not want to speak specifically about Mr. Netanyahu, but would like to respond that, in general, Israeli politicians suffer from a peculiar condition which only manifests when they have achieved their election goals and secured a seat in the Knesset. This affliction, which wipes out all memory of the statements and promises made by the candidate prior to the elections, is most pronounced in those who achieve the Prime Ministership of Israel."

"This is not news," Mrs. Pollard told Maariv. "None of the candidates are new to politics. We, in Israel, are all well acquainted with the actions and behavior of all of the current candidates for the office of Prime Minister."

As her interview with Radio Kol Chai was ending, Esther Pollard added: "I would be remiss if I did not use this opportunity to call on the public to pray and pray and pray for Yehonatan ben Malka. Now, more than ever, prayers are needed.

The young student interviewee asked Mrs. Pollard what people can do to help Jonathan now.

"Prayer!" Mrs. Pollard repeated."Prayer and prayer and more prayer!" She continued, "Get your friends to pray; get your parents to pray; get the minyan where you daven to pray for Yehonatan Ben Malka, and for all the shevuyim (captives)! When we pray, if we are worthy and our prayers are accepted, HaShem creates the circumstances here on earth to force the leaders to do His will, to answer our prayers.

May our prayers be redoubled in the coming days, and may we be found worthy as a Nation to see the return of all of our MIAs and Captives and Yehonaton ben Malka among them, speedily in our day! And let us say "Amain!"

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