Rift Among Seekers of Justice
Jonathan Pollard supporters split over granting of Israeli citizenship
December 1, 1995 - Ariela Friedmann, Editor - Western Jewish Bulletin
Jonathan Pollard supporters are a split over news that Israel has now granted citizenship to the jailed American spy.
Esther (Elaine) Zeitz Pollard, Jonathan's wife who lives in Toronto, said she and her husband are "thrilled and delighted." And Jonathan's personal rabbi, Avi Weiss, issued a statement saying he is "absolutely ecstatic at the news."
But Carol Pollard, Jonathan's sister and founder of the worldwide Citizens for Justice for Jonathan Pollard, says the move will "hinder" bids for Jonathan's freedom.
And in Vancouver, a neutral Tzipi Mann, co-chair of the local Citizens for Justice chapter, proclaimed that "whatever route is taken to achieve his freedom, we applaud."
Last week marked the completion of Jonathan's 10th year behind bars after being convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment by U.S. courts. The crime - spying for Israel. Mrs. Pollard had petitioned the Israeli government to grant citizenship to her husband. Interior Minister Ehud Barak had rejected the request a month ago but has since reversed his decision.
Israeli prime minister Shimon Peres is scheduled to meet with U.S. president Bill Clinton on December 11. It is expected that Peres will petition Clinton to grant clemency to Jonathan.
Eli Yerushalmi, charge d'affaires for the Israeli embassy in Canada, confirmed that Mr. Peres will continue with the mandate established by the late Yizhak Rabin, in asking the American president for Jonathan's freedom.
Mrs. Pollard, who pointed out that she speaks to her jailed husband daily, said that Israel's granting of citizenship means so much more than a humanitarian gesture or a moral victory. The citizenship sends a strong message," she stressed. "By granting Jonathan citizenship now, [Israel is] declaring responsibility.
But Carol Pollard feels otherwise about the citizenship. "I think it's a bandaid, an aspirin. It's not going to help him." Carol suggested that the U.S. government will view the Israeli citizenship as Jonathan having turned to his co-conspirators for help rather than being repentant for his deed. "This can only anger the U.S. government" and the parole board, she said.
Carol referred to a report that appeared in the Washington Post November 21, in which Barton Gellman wrote, "According to several legal experts, it is likely to irritate those responsible for weighing his parole because he is reemphasizing his loyalty to the country for which he committed his crimes."
But Carol acknowledged the fact that Jonathan is now estranged from the Pollard family. Carol hasn't spoken to her brother for more than a year now, she revealed.
"My brother has been in prison too long," she said. "He's lost his compass. He doesn't know what direction to go in."
The split between the Pollard family and Jonathan has made the situation an awkward one for Jonathan's supporters, said Mrs. Mann of Vancouver's seven-core member Citizens for Justice. "It's unfortunate that there is a rift between Carol and Jonathan. If she thinks that the granting of citizenship isn't a good thing, we can't say we agree or disagree."
Carol and Esther Pollard are also in disagreement about a parole hearing for Jonathan. While Carol is urging supporters to write in support of a January parole hearing for Jonathan, Mrs. Pollard has declared that not only has no date been set for a parole hearing, but should one be scheduled "it would be suicidal for Jonathan because you close the door on the chances for clemency."
No Parole Hearing To Be Scheduled