Pollard - An Overview of Recent Events (through January 1998)
Knesset Ministerial Committee Appointed To Work On Pollard's Release,
Sharansky Plans A Visit To Butner
Susan L. R. Rosenbluth - The Jewish Voice And Opinion, New Jersey, February 1998
ENGLEWOOD, NEW JERSEY, May 8, 1998, Root & Branch: For supporters of
imprisoned spy Jonathan Pollard, the news last month was good and bad.
The good news was pressure to gain his release seems to be growing in the US
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last month convened a special
forum to discuss action to gain his release, and Minister of Trade Natan
Sharansky signaled his intention to visit Mr. Pollard in prison in
North Carolina, this month. Three other ministers, Finance Minister
Neeman, Minister of Infrastructure Ariel Sharon, and Minister of Labor
Social Affairs Eli Yishai said they plan to visit Mr. Pollard during
next scheduled visits to the US in a few weeks.
The bad news was that, despite Mr. Netanyahu's interest, the 60-day
mandated by the High Court of Israel to allow for a resolution of Mr.
Pollard's case out of court has elapsed. Through his wife and attorney,
Pollard is suing the State of Israel to force it to admit that he was a
bona fide agent and not the product of a rogue
operation as the Israel government has long insisted.
No Serious Intent
According to Esther Pollard, the Israeli Minister of Defense
an absence of serious intent and an unwillingness to initiate any
constructive action on the case. "
"The 60-day period has been marked by nothing but empty promises,
unfulfilled commitments, and bureaucratic excuses," she said.
Mr. Pollard's Israeli attorney filed a request for an emergency session
the Supreme Court to deal with his case. The Pollards believe that if
Israel finally takes formal responsibility for his activities and
that he was employed by the state as a spy, his sentence will be
The date for the Supreme Court session will be set by the court.
Who Was Responsible?
The Knesset ministerial committee to handle the Pollard case seems to
been appointed because no one in the cabinet knew who was responsible
dealing with him. At a government session on Mr. Pollard at the end of
December, Communications Minister Limor Livnat, who recently visited Mr.
Pollard in prison, asked which government agency was responsible for
pursuing his release. Mr. Netanyahu pointed to Attorney General Elyakim
Rubinstein, who promptly denied having any role in the matter.
Mr. Pollard's case was not being handled by the Foreign or Defense
Ministries at any level either. Therefore, Mr. Netanyahu decided to
appoint a new committee composed of representatives of various
agencies. The team members are Defense Minister Yitzhak Mordechai; the
Foreign Minister, which is a position held, at least temporarily, by Mr.
Netanyahu himself; Justice Minister Tzachi Hanegbi; the Attorney
Ms. Livnat; and Absorption Minister Yuli Edelstein, who, like Ms.
Livnat, recently visited Mr. Pollard in prison.
During its first meeting, the forum addressed discreet and subtle action
that can be taken in the US to bring an end to the affair and secure Mr.
Attacking the US
For the first time, Mr. Netanyahu attacked the US for treating Mr.
harsher than any other convicted US spy, and called for his release.
Speaking at a weekly cabinet meeting, Mr. Netanyahu said that Mr.
had erred, and he has expressed his remorse. "He should be in Israel
and it is up to us to handle his request."
According to New York Daily News columnist Richard Chesnoff, Mr.
fate has already come up in talks between Mr. Netanyahu and Secretary of
State Madeleine Albright, who is currently seeking major concessions
the Jewish state.
At the World Zionist Congress in Jerusalem, on Jan. 11, a resolution
clemency for Mr. Pollard was proposed by the Zionist Organization of
America and adopted by an overwhelming margin. The resolution urged US
President Bill Clinton to commute Mr. Pollard's sentence to time served.
"The length of the sentence given to Pollard was extraordinarily unfair,
and the passage of this resolution by the World Zionist Congress is an
impressive declaration of international Jewish solidarity with Jonathan
Pollard, which the Clinton administration should not ignore," said ZOA
president Mort Klein.
At its most recent session, ZOA's national executive committee passed a
resolution stating: "Whereas Lieut.-Commander Michael Schwartz was
arrested for providing classified US intelligence data to Saudi Arabia,
indicted by a US Navy Grand Jury on the charge of espionage, and then
released with an other than honorable discharge, and whereas Jonathan
Pollard is now in his 12th year of incarceration for illegally
passing US data to Israel, which no other individual who was convicted
passing such data to other allies of the US has ever served more than
years in prison; therefore be it resolved that the ZOA respectfully
upon President Clinton to review the Pollard case in light of the
of the Schwartz case, and grant clemency to Jonathan Pollard."
Conference of Presidents
Little more than a week later, the Conference of Presidents of Major
American Jewish Organizations announced it will soon begin a concerted
effort for Mr. Pollard's release. Conference members decided to write to
Mr. Clinton, asking him to commute Mr. Pollards sentence as a
Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice president of the Conference, said the
group's 55 member organizations would ask their members to begin a
letter-writing campaign urging Mr. Clinton to release Mr. Pollard.
About the Author
A journalist for many years with various secular Jewish and general
publications, Susan L. Rosenbluth began the Jewish Voice and Opinion in
1987 as a vehicle for the Orthodox-Jewish community, primarily in
northern NJ and Rockland County and Riverdale, NY. The monthly news-magazine,
which now reaches over 15,000 families, speaks out forcefully and unashamedly
for the unique concerns of "classical Judaism." The publication's principal
focus is the political scene in Israel and the US, and current events
which affect the Jewish community.
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