Pollard Gets High-Level Visitor

November 21, 1997 - The New York Jewish Week

Fresh from a 90-minute meeting on Monday with Jonathan Pollard, Israel's Minister of Absorption Yuli Edelstein said it is time that Israel "upgrade its stand" and do more to secure the release of the convicted spy. "It's our task to get him out," Edelstein told The Jewish Week.

Pollard, sentenced in 1986 to life in prison for espionage on Israel's behalf, is serving time at a federal facility in Butner, N.C.

Edelstein was the first Israeli minister to meet with Pollard and he said he plans to encourage his fellow ministers to do the same. He described Pollard as "very intelligent, very much in control, and knowledgeable and focused on Israel," where he hopes to live after he is freed. Pollard was granted Israeli citizenship earlier this year.

The meeting was initiated by Edelstein, who said that Israelis from the right and left share a belief that Pollard has served more than enough time for his crime and should be released.

"I have not heard one complaint about my going to visit Pollard," he said.

The two men discussed Pollard's case and practical suggestions and options for highlighting his plight. "He told me that as long as Israel is not serious" about working toward his release, "there's no reason why American Jews or the American government should do so," Edelstein said, adding, "he has a point."

Edelstein said that he told Pollard that he would give the Israeli government a full report on their meeting, and that Pollard expressed gratitude for the visit.