LIBA'I: Jonathan Pollard's Citizenship Request Was The First Thing I Gave Barak

Evelyn Gordon - The Jerusalem Post - July 26, 1995

Jonathan Pollard's request for Israeli citizenship was the "first thing" Justice Minister David Liba'i gave to incoming Interior Minister Ehud Barak when he handed over the ministry, Liba'i told a conference of MKs yesterday.

Liba'i said he received the application shortly before Barak took over last week.

The conference was organized by Rehavam Ze'evi (Moledet) in support of a bill he is submitting to grant Pollard citizenship. Ze'evi said he is in the process of collecting signatures on the bill, since he wants it to have as large a sponsorship as possible.

Pollard's wife, Esther Zeitz-Pollard, told the conference that she fully supported the bill, as she was the one who submitted Pollard's application to the Interior Ministry, at his request.

Zeitz-Pollard said she is making Pollard's plea for citizenship public because he has been trying through back channels to acquire citizenship for the past 10 years, without success.

She contrasted this with what was done for Prisoner of Zion Yosef Begun, who was given citizenship without even asking in 1972, 16 years before he finally made it to Israel.

"Perhaps someone fears that this would hurt [Pollard]," Ze'evi said. "But in my opinion, the one who should be the judge of whether it would hurt him is Jonathan Pollard himself."

"Jonathan's own words are: 'How can you hurt a person who is already in the worst possible situation'" Zeitz-Pollard added. "As a loyal American citizen, Jonathan sought justice via the due process of American law, and it failed him every step of the way. Now, having no other recourse, he is calling on the Israeli Government to help him.

"Israeli citizenship for Jonathan Pollard at this time is critical." She continued. "It will lend legal strength to the moral basis on which Israel has sought his release for the past 10 years." Zeitz-Pollard stressed the unfairness of the life sentence given Pollard, noting that the longest sentence ever meted out to anyone else charged with giving information to an ally was 10 years - and the law was changed after Pollard was sentenced to make this the legal maximum as well. The longest anyone else ever served for this crime was eight years, while Pollard has already been in prison for 10.

Pollard, she noted, was never charged with harming American interests.

Pollard is due to go before a parole board in 36 days, and Zeitz-Pollard said she already has reliable information that the board plans to postpone any decision for another 15 years. Israeli citizenship, she said, will at least send a message to US authorities that Israel stands behind Pollard. It will also entitle him to the support of Israeli officials in the US, she noted.

Zeitz-Pollard said that many of the people who initially pressed for Pollard's life sentence have repented: Former secretary of defense Caspar Weinberger, for instance, told The New York Times that it is time to let Pollard go.

Moreover, she said, the discovery that Aldrich Ames, and not Pollard, was responsible for information getting to the Soviet Union has not moved the establishment's position at all.

"It's made the CIA and the FBI more stubborn, because they don't want to let go of their scapegoat." She said. "To this day, they're putting out disinformation about Jonathan." -

  • See Also: The Parole Page