"Every Single Day I Get Ready All Over Again Waiting To Be Released"
(Pollard to Edelstein)
November 25, 1997 - Orly Azulay Katz - Yediot Achronot
Just before entering the visiting room at the prison FCI Butner in North
Carolina USA, Esther Pollard turned to the Minister of Immigration and
Absorption, Yuli Edelstein and made a request: "Please give us a moment to embrace before you start to speak because afterwards, the guards will not allow us."
Minister Edelstein smiled understandingly. For the next hour and a
quarter Esther and Jonathan Pollard sat, holding hands, and talking with
the first Israeli government minister to visit Pollard in prison.
"He looks a little heavier," (Pollard's appearance is the result of
illness, and reflects the deficient diet he must subsist on without
kosher food.) This is how Edelstein described Pollard to a Yediot
Achronot writer immediately upon concluding the visit. "He is suffering
from migraines and ear, nose and throat problems. I spoke with prison
officials and they promised me that they would get treatment for him."
"Not Given Up Hope"
Edelstein said that he was impressed that Pollard, who has been in prison
for 12 years for spying on behalf of Israel, has not given up hope.
"Before I came to the prison, I had been warned that that Jonathan
Pollard is a very bitter man. That is not how he came across to me.
While he does speak cynically of how Israel has treated him, he has not
lost hope. He told me something interesting: 'If the Americans see that
the Israeli government, which I served, does not go out of its way to
help me, why should the Americans lift a finger to resolve this case?'
And he is right in his thinking."
"While he did not come out and say that he feels that the Government of
Israel abandoned him, it is easy to understand how hard it must be for
him, the fact that the Government of Israel has not done enough for
According to the Minister, Pollard requested that he invite other
cabinet ministers to visit him. "Jonathan spoke with great warmth about
the people of Israel, not the politicians. He said he gets hundreds of
letters of encouragement and support from all over Israel, from as far
north as Kyriat Shmona , and as far south as Eilat.
"Here and there, he salt-and peppered-his speech with Hebrew expressions.
"He is very much relying on public opinion to pressure the government to
"He dreams of coming to Israel and of developing scientific technology
which he has created specific to Israel's water and energy concerns. He
follows carefully every thing that is going on in Israel, and is
amazingly knowledgeable and up-to-date."
Those attending the meeting were Jonathan and Esther Pollard, Minister
Edelstein, the minister's spokesperson Yehuda Glick, and the minister's
advisor for Diaspora Affairs Vera Golavsky. An American Naval
Intelligence officer was also present at the meeting.
"Hundreds of Letters of Encouragement"
When the meeting ended, Edelstein gave Pollard a letter that had been
written in the name of Prime Minister Netanyahu by his advisor, David
Bar Illan, in which the Prime Minister promised that he would "spare no
effort" to seek Pollard's release. Pollard, on the other hand, was not
permitted to give a letter to the Minister.
"It was a very exciting visit," said Yehuda Glick, after the meeting.
"Jonathan said that every single day he gets ready all over again
waiting to be released."
"On the one hand, he is optimistic. On the other hand, he doesn't trust
the government. This was obvious throughout the conversation. He
proposed that the Prime Minister and the Head of the Opposition,
General Barak write a joint letter calling for his release.
"He is suffering very badly in prison. He said that there is a lot of
violence. So far it has not been directed against him, but he doesn't
know from one minute to the next what may happen tomorrow. He stated
repeatedly that he is the victim of self-serving politicians and their
At the conclusion of the visit, Minister Edelstein announced that he
would seek an emergency meeting with the Prime Minister immediately upon
his return to Israel to urge him to intensify efforts to free Pollard.
As well, Edelstein promised to remain in constant contact with Pollard
and to encourage other ministers to visit Pollard.
Pollard to Edelstein: Bring Me Home
Israeli Minister Visits Pollard in U.S. Jail