Esther Pollard heartbroken by Peres statement about Obama

Wife of jailed Israeli agent responds to President's remark that Obama has responded favorably to all Israeli requests.

Gil Hoffman - The Jerusalem Post - November 16, 2013

Israeli agent Jonathan Pollard's wife Esther wrote President Shimon Peres over the weekend, expressing her deep concern about a statement he made Thursday that she said broke her heart.

Speaking at the Ben Gurion Prize Awards in Tel Aviv, Peres praised the administration in Washington, saying: "There is no Israeli request that President [Barack] Obama has not responded to (favorably)."

Peres formally requested that Obama commute Pollard's life sentence in April 2012 ahead of a June ceremony in Washington in which Obama gave Peres the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Obama has not responded formally to the request.

Thursday marks the 28th anniversary of Pollard's arrest.

"Particularly at this time when my husband is about to enter year 29 in prison, your words Mr. President, were like a knife in my heart," she wrote. "How can you dismiss Jonathan as if he does not exist? How can I tell this to Jonathan without devastating him? It would destroy what little is left of his health and morale to hear."

Esther Pollard told Peres that American officials had told her that if he would make a serious and unequivocal request for her husband's release, Obama would respond favorably. She said she saw his statements Thursday and her husband's continued incarceration as proof Peres had not made a serious request.

"Should I tell Jonathan you have now confirmed what we have feared all along - that there never was a serious, compelling request for Jonathan's release?" she asked. "That the issue really isn't a priority for you? That you seem to have made it clear that as far as you are concerned, Jonathan is as good as dead, G-d forbid!"

She urged Peres to "invest your full stature in a just and humane compelling appeal" to Obama to release her husband.

"I am not asking you, Mr. President for fancy declarations or public pronouncements," she wrote. "The only thing that will prove to us that you have done what you need to do is Jonathan will be here."

National Council of Young Israel executive vice president emeritus Rabbi Pesach Lerner, who spearheads efforts for Pollard's release in the US, noted that the Americans had no evidence against the agent when he was arrested until Peres, who was prime minister at the time, ordered that all the documents that Pollard passed to Israel be returned to the US with his fingerprints still on them.

"Israel has the dubious honor of being the first and only country in the world to cooperate in the indictment and prosecution of its own agent," Lerner said.

"It would go a long way toward making amends if Peres would do whatever is necessary to bring Jonathan home now, alive," he added.

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