Why Did Sen. Torricelli Cancel His Trip To Visit Jonathan Pollard?

Susan L. Rosenbluth - The Jewish Voice and Opinion: July 1998 Issue

For a few weeks in May, it seemed as though Jonathan Pollard was going to receive a long-promised Senatorial visit. Through the efforts of Robert Rogoff of Passaic, Sen. Robert Torricelli (D-NJ) was planning a trip to Mr. Pollard's prison in Butner, North Carolina, along with his long-time supporter Rabbi Menachem Genack of Englewood and Holocaust scholar Elie Wiesel.

At the end of May, the prisoner's hopes were dashed. For some reason that is not at all clear, Mr. Torricelli insisted on bringing to the meeting two reporters who Mr. Pollard and his wife, Esther, had reason to suspect would do them damage in the press.

When the Pollards begged the Senator to choose other journalists to report on their meeting, Mr. Torricelli declared that he would not visit Mr. Pollard at all.

Why the Insistence?

Neither the Pollards nor Mr. Rogoff have any idea why Mr. Torricelli seemed so insistent on bringing Tim Wiener of the New York Times and Peter Pearl of the Washington Post.

According to Mrs. Pollard, her husband is aware that these two journalists are hostile and have an agenda that is harmful to Jonathan's best interests.

When Mr. Rogoff tried to intervene, a spokesman in Mr. Torricellis office informed him that any harm these journalists will do will be outweighed by the good that Sen. Torricelli can do.

Mrs. Pollard said that contention is not legitimate. Why would anyone ask Jonathan to incur any amount of harm in order to receive the Senator's help? By insisting on these two journalists, the Senator is asking Jonathan to put himself in harm's way, she said.

She did not deny that her husband is desperate for help. But not at a cost that is so great that he must harm himself in the process, she said.

A List

Late last month, in an effort to try to convince Mr. Torricelli to reconsider, Mr. Rogoff called his office and was told to bring staffers a list of acceptable journalists. But Mrs. Pollard explained that David Twersky, editor of the New Jersey Jewish News, and the Israeli Embassy had already given the Senator such a list. Mrs. Pollard asked Mr. Rogoff to assure Mr. Torricelli that her husband would gladly accept his choice of any two other journalists suggested.

According to a spokesman for Mr. Torricelli, the senator was not currently considering making the trip to Butner because of the "pre-conditions insisted on by the Pollards." Asked if there had been any other stipulations besides finding other neutral journalists, the spokesman said the office would have no comment.

According to Mrs. Pollard and Mr. Rogoff, there were no other pre-conditions.


The Pollards' concerns were vindicated in short order. On July 5, 1998 the Washington Post published a devastating article on the Pollard Case which Jonathan Pollard characterized as "lies, lies, and more lies." This twisted piece of yellow journalism was authored by Peter Perl, one of the journalists that Senator Toricelli insisted must accompany him as a precondition to visiting Jonathan Pollard.