Pollard, Zeitz Tie The Knot

June 2, 1994 - Ron Csillag - The Canadian Jewish News

It's a bittersweet mazel tov. And it's no usual wedding announcement, although it sounds ordinary enough.

"Jonathan and I wish to announce our marriage," Elaine Zeitz of Toronto coolly informed The CJN last week, referring to her recent nuptials to convicted spy for Israel, Jonathan Pollard.

Zeitz, Pollard's fiancee for at least the last three years and his most ardent advocate, married the world's most famous Jewish prisoner in a private ceremony behind bars, at the Federal Correctional Institute in Butner, N.C., where Pollard is serving a life sentence for passing classified documents to Israel.

Because of the extraordinary security net that surrounds Pollard, there's little more his new bride can say. She can only add that the ceremony took place during one of her recent visits to Butner. She can't divulge who performed the service or who attended. The sole details she reveals are that the ceremony was "informal," but in accordance with Halacha, and that there were no wedding pictures taken, since Jonathan is prohibited from being photographed.

"You can't imagine what it was like to leave him there," Zeitz allows in a rare moment of emotion. "I wish with all my heart I could tell you more. I wish I could detail the abuse he goes through.

If people knew, there would be an outrage.


Outrage was in no small supply earlier this spring, when U.S. President Bill Clinton decided against commuting Pollard's sentences to time already served,

even after a personal plea from Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin

. Jewish groups demanded a review and called for Pollard's release, arguing he had already served

twice as much jail time as anyone convicted of a similar offence


According to some reports, Pollard is eligible for parole next year. But both he and Zeitz see no hope for parole at all, partly because of Clinton's decision but also because the U.S. intelligence community still seems to consider Pollard a major security threat.

"Our original intention was that it was a private matter between the two of us," Zeitz said of the marriage. "But circumstances compel us to share our secret with the world." As Zeitz sees it, her campaign for Pollard will carry more weight now that she's his wife.

Or as Pollard himself put it to Zeitz after the couple's decision to announce their marriage: "No one can question the legitimacy of a man's wife speaking out urgently on his behalf. It's time for the world to know that you are my wife."

A former U.S. Navy civilian intelligence analyst, Pollard was arrested in 1985 after Israel's embassy in Washington would not protect him. He was later charged with one count of spying for an ally but never with treason or harming U.S. interests. In return for leniency for himself and his first wife and co-accused, Anne, he agreed to forgo a public trial.

But then-U.S. secretary of defense Caspar Weinberger wrote a scathing report saying Pollard's action had resulted in irreparable harm to national security, and calling Pollard a "traitor."

At an in-camera hearing in 1987, Pollard received a life term and has since been in some of the toughest jails in the United States, mostly in solitary confinement. Anne Pollard served nearly four years. Now divorced from Jonathan, she lives in Israel. A year ago, Pollard was transferred to Butner, where

he works 12 hours a day at a textile plant and is reported in ill health


"He is the most monitored, most abused, most harassed prisoner in America today," contends Zeitz, who won't discuss her relationship with Pollard prior to 1990. "He is subject to rules and regulations no other prisoner faces. I know. I saw it with my own eyes. Even when I was with him, I saw how he was singled out. I saw the signs of abuse.

"For some time now, Jonathan and I have been swimming upstream, trying to do what needs to be done to secure his immediate release, and finding ourselves blocked, delayed or interfered with every step of the way," she says. "We can no longer go on this way. That's why we have decided to go public."