Esther Pollard: Jonathan will be free before Rosh Hashana

August 19, 1996 - Judy Siegel - The Jerusalem Post

Esther Pollard, who ended a 19-day hunger strike in support of her husband Jonathan on Thursday night, is staying on in Israel "for the time being" because she believes he will be released from his North Carolina prison very soon.

Pollard, a special education teacher in Toronto, had been due to return to Canada for the start of the school year on September 1. But former chief rabbi Mordechai Eliahu, who visited her husband in prison recently, and accompanied her to a meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday, said he believed Jonathan, convicted of spying for Israel, would be released "before Rosh Hashana." If that transpires, the Pollards intend to live in Israel.

Pollard, who broke her fast with a green salad after living only on water, sugar and salts for more than two weeks, said the meeting with Netanyahu gave her much hope. The premier, she said, "spoke in a way that he had never spoken before and strongly committed himself to secure Jonathan's immediate release."

On the basis of that verbal commitment alone, she would not have ended the hunger strike, she said. But Eliahu's commitment that he would be "a guarantor" of the premier's statements were enough to make her do so.

"I wanted to wake up the nation and the government about the urgency of obtaining the release, and that is essentially what happened, " Pollard said.