This Patriot Must Come Home

by Esther Pollard - Jerusalem Post - March 31, 1995
[Published simultaneously in Hebrew and in English by arrangement with Ma'ariv]

Playwright Motti Lerner and Tel Aviv's Cameri Theater have recently been accused of damaging my husband's chances for release on parole by staging the play Pollard - The Patriots.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Only those who are looking to camouflage their own inaction on this issue criticize Lerner and the play. Jonathan and I are fully aware of the great impact that the play is having on the Israeli public. And we are deeply grateful.

Pollard - The Patriots is playing to packed houses in Tel Aviv, and there has been worldwide press coverage. The play is proving a powerful and eloquent vehicle in our effort to raise public consciousness about a profound personal and national tragedy.

We have no problem with Lerner's largely fictionalized version of events. Any factual attempt to portray the extent of the pain and suffering that has been Jonathan's lot over the last several years is more than any stage could bear.

What is more important to us is that Lerner has succeeded - brilliantly - in bringing his audiences to an almost total identification with the tragedy of Jonathan Pollard. Playgoers come to terms with his painful story, and understand the relevance of Jonathan's tragedy to their own lives, and its meaning in terms of Israel's national honor.

Public response has been overwhelming. Since opening night, Jonathan and I have received thousands of cards and letters, and an endless outpouring of empathy, encouragement and support.

The Israeli public has taken Jonathan's tragedy very personally, especially since Israel is a nation of soldiers, and most of its citizens devote a large part of their lives to military service.

My telephone continues to ring at all hours of the day and night. On the other end of the line are tens and hundreds of Israeli citizens calling to tell of their sympathy for my husband and their prayers for his safe return. Surely this new wave of support would not have reached such dimensions without the powerful stimulus provided by Lerner's play.

Pollard - The Patriots has raised the Pollard case from the depths of national forgetfulness to a place of prominence on the Israeli public agenda. Jonathan both merits and needs public prominence at this time.

Past experience has proven that keeping a low profile and relying on quiet diplomacy in order to free Jonathan is doomed to fail every time.

For the past 10 years, the American administration has consistently interpreted such quiet diplomatic initiatives as an unwillingness on the part of the Israeli government to commit itself fully to securing my husband's release.

We had hoped that this would not be so. After all, "between friends" it should have been possible to settle this kind of affair quickly and quietly. Unfortunately, with our friends the Americans, quiet diplomatic efforts over the years have been misinterpreted. They have been rejected and forgotten.

Some claim this recent explosion in public awareness and support for Jonathan poses a threat to his case. On the contrary. It affords the Israeli government the broad and solid base of public backing it needs to present a strong case to the American administration.

Jonathan and I pray that the Israeli government will seize this golden opportunity to redouble its efforts to secure Jonathan's swift release. It can let the American administration know that the tragedy of Jonathan Pollard isn't just going to disappear, that it has touched the Israelis' hearts.

The Pollard case must be settled now. Time is running out. In May Jonathan Pollard will stand before a parole board. The Cameri Theater has no influence with the board. But the Israeli government has.

Only a renewed and relentless offensive on its part will bring Jonathan Pollard home to the land for which he sacrificed his freedom. Lack of action could leave Jonathan to languish in prison indefinitely.