Pollard to Edelstein: Bring Me Home

November 25, 1997 - Marilyn Henry - The Jerusalem Post

In an historic meeting yesterday, convicted spy Jonathan Pollard asked Absorption Minister Yuli Edelstein to persuade Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Labor Party chairman Ehud Barak to jointly and publicly call for his release.

Pollard's meeting with Edelstein at the Federal Correctional Institution in Butner, North Carolina - his first with an Israeli minister - lasted more than an hour, Edelstein's spokesman said.

"Just bring me home," Pollard told Edelstein. The former US naval analyst, who is serving a life sentence on charges of spying for Israel, referred to himself as an Israeli, the spokesman said.

Edelstein handed Pollard a letter from Netanyahu in which the prime minister promised: "I will not spare any effort to bring about your release from jail."

The spokesman described Pollard's mood as "unbelievably positive. He looks like he's quite well," although Pollard, 42, has some health problems, including migraine headaches, that are not getting adequate medical attention, the spokesman asserted.

Edelstein said on Channel 1's Popolitika last night that Pollard had complained to him that Israeli governments have ignored his plight, Itim reported.

He also said that he "found a very warm and intelligent man." He said that Pollard "asked me to encourage ministers and other public figures to visit him."

Edelstein said he found that Pollard was very knowledgeable about Israeli affairs, and was not bitter, but a little cynical about how ready Israel was to try and win his release.

At Pollard's request, Edelstein asked prison authorities to allow him to receive kosher food, to have a radio, and to permit him to make more telephone calls.

Edelstein's visit was intended to generate publicity for Pollard and to put his case back on the national agenda. In addition to seeking support from Netanyahu and Barak, Pollard asked that other ministers visit him "to keep up the momentum," the spokesman said.

"The people of Israel are behind him," the spokesman maintained, noting that Pollard gets hundreds of letters of support.

Pollard's supporters argue that his sentence was "excessive." But his bids for clemency have been rejected by the White House. Pollard is said to have given Edelstein some information that might help win his release, but the spokesman would not elaborate.

Pollard was arrested with his first wife, Anne, outside the Israeli Embassy in Washington, where they sought asylum, on November 21, 1985. Anne Pollard was released from jail and made aliya in January 1991.