Minister Yishai to Pollard: We Made a Mistake

March 31, 1998 - Hillel Kuttler

Labor and Social Affairs Minister Eli Yishai told Jonathan Pollard yesterday that Israel made a mistake by not recognizing him as an Israeli spy, which sent a mixed message to the US about its responsibility for him.

Pollard again requested that Israel declare he worked for the state and set a target date for attaining his freedom.

The meeting at the Federal Correctional Institution in Butner, North Carolina, was the fourth Pollard has held in recent months with a cabinet minister under a new policy of providing official visitors, and the second in the past week.

As he did when he met last Monday with Finance Minister Yaakov Neeman, Pollard compared his plight with that of Michael Schwartz, the non-Jewish naval officer who was sentenced last year to two years' imprisonment for spying on behalf of Saudi Arabia, while Pollard received a life sentence.

(Justice for Jonathan Pollard correction: in deference to the Saudi ally, Schwartz was not sentenced to even one day in prison! Schwartz's only punishment was dismissal from the Navy: see the Schwartz Case Page.)

Yesterday Pollard also mentioned the case of Peter Lee, a scientist sentenced to a year for passing information to China.

(Justice for Jonathan Pollard note: Lee passed critical munitions information to the Chinese and received a sentence of one year in a halfway house: see new Peter Lee Case Page.)

Pollard asked Yishai to enlist the support of Rabbi Ovadia Yosef in the effort to gain his release. Yishai brought Pollard a Haggada in which Yosef inscribed, "The spring brought with it the news of redemption."

Pollard slammed past Israeli committees for abandoning him, and expressed hope that this time the commission headed by cabinet secretary Dan Naveh has the potential to help free him and bring him to Israel.

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