Jonathan Pollard Is Homesick

July 12, 1996 - Ben Caspit

Excerpted from "Visit To Washington"
"Ma'ariv Political Supplement", lead feature article

Jonathan and Esther Pollard are waiting for an explanation. They want to know what caused the complete turnabout in the Prime Minister's behavior in the last few weeks since the elections.

Remember, a week before the elections Netanyahu met with Esther Pollard who was in Israel. He proudly showed her a personal letter that he had written to President Clinton in which he unequivocally demanded the immediate and unconditional release of Jonathan Pollard.

At the press conference that he held with Pollard, Netanyahu declared that Jonathan Pollard's release had nothing to do with the elections in the United States or Israel. "It is simply a humanitarian issue, a question of justice that has to be addressed immediately," he said.

And then he won the elections and became prime minister. Since then his enthusiasm for the cause seems to have waned considerably. In recent weeks Netanyahu has received urgent letters and faxes from Pollard's lawyer, Larry Dub, and from the Pollards themselves. They pleaded to meet with him, even briefly. Esther was willing to go to Washington or to New York, or to any other place that Netanyahu would name.

They are still waiting for an answer. The Pollards, through their attorney, Larry Dub, asked for meetings with Dore Gold, Shai Bezek, David Levy, and others. Their requests were in vain. They simply went unanswered. Sometime ago, Shai Bezek, Netanyahu's spokesman, informed the Pollards' attorney that he believed the Prime Minister would bring up the subject of Pollard's release with President Clinton.

Now it turns out that Netanyahu did not bring up the subject in his talks with President Clinton, but just "in conversation with another American official." It would appear that Netanyahu probably raised the Pollard issue in his conversation with the head of the CIA, John Deutsch.

Esther and Jonathan Pollard are outraged. "Until now," says Pollard, "I was used to being slapped on my left cheek. Now I just received my first slap on my right cheek. And it really hurts."

The Pollards did not expect that they would miss the Labor Government so quickly. "At least they always responded," said Esther. "They responded to letters, and Rabin and Peres always brought up my husband's case with Clinton even if it was just for protocol."

Netanyahu, by all accounts, did not bring up the Pollard issue. (Look, he had enough irritating business with Clinton without this.)

Now in his eleventh year of incarceration, Jonathan Pollard continues to rot in prison. Everyone is saying that there is no chance for Pollard to be released before the American elections.

It seems that there is always some future date or reason why there is no chance for Pollard to be release. And there is always somebody making him promises.

But those promises, in the end, are always empty promises.