Galei Tzahal (Army) Radio Interview of Esther Pollard
with announcer Ilana Dayan
Jerusalem, September 5, 1999
[Translated from Hebrew]
Ilana Dayan: Someone who is not celebrating this morning is Jonathan Pollard. Ma'ariv's Weekend Magazine this week carried a feature story by Ben Caspit about Jonathan. (He is quoted in Ma'ariv:) "We are fighting not only the cancer that has afflicted my wife, but also the cancer of hatred towards me from the Israeli politicians." After the signing of the agreement (with the Palestinians) last night in Sharm-el-Sheik, he is even angrier still.
Jonathan: The situation with Ron Arad and the other M.I.A.s just proves the point. When have we ever held up a negotiation with anybody over the M.I.A.s or Ron Arad or me!
Ilana Dayan: Esther Pollard, good-morning!
Esther Pollard: Good-morning Ilana!
Ilana Dayan: Esther, what was your impression of Jonathan's mood when you spoke to him this morning.
Esther Pollard: His mood is awful. What does anyone expect? Here you have an Israeli agent who has been waiting for 14 years for the government to come and rescue him - he is sitting in prison, in the hands of our "best friends" - and instead of coming to free him, they cut off all contact with him!
Ilana Dayan: I had the impression that he is terribly angry with Ehud Barak and with the government - the new government, even though previous governments also failed to free him.
Esther Pollard: Saying he is "angry" is a little strange. (It's an understatement.) How would you feel if you were waiting for 14 years to be rescued, and you see that the government managed to rescue other agents in Jordan in a matter of days, some in Switzerland in a matter of weeks, and still others in Cyprus in a matter of months, and here you are still sitting in prison after 14 years. - And after 14 years along comes the Prime Minister and publicly declares that you are an "internal American problem "that he has no interest in, and as far as he is concerned you can stay there.
Ilana Dayan: Perhaps the difference is the Cypriots said yes, the Jordanians said yes and the others said yes, but Clinton, and before him Bush, have time and time again said no.
Esther Pollard: First of all it depends on how one asks. Secondly, what does one do when the answer is no? Do you just walk away? Just because they say no, you are willing to abandon Ron Arad? You're willing to abandon the M.I.A.s ? You're willing to abandon Jonathan Pollard, just because they say no?
You will pardon me, but there are lots of times that the Americans say no, but that is not what they mean. And there are lots of times that we say no, and that is not the final answer either.
Ilana Dayan: In any case, fact is that in the last few years Jonathan Pollard had many visits from government ministers, from Limor Livnat who was the Minister of Communication, from Dani Naveh, who was the Cabinet Secretary. It also seems to me that Yuli Edelstein also a government minister, visited him as well at some point or other. So now that fewer ministers are making pilgrimages to him that also bothers him?
Esther Pollard: This is not about pilgrimages or visits. Binyamin Netanyahu, just like the former Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin before him, linked Jonathan to the peace process. The linkage started with Prime Minster Rabin because he realized... (Dayan interrupts and Pollard protests.) Wait a minute! Wait a minute! They linked him to the peace process and Barak cut him loose. Barak cut his linkage to the peace process! In other words, the (Palestinian) prisoners who will go free tonight are in fact the price that was paid for Pollard. Barak is now paying the price without getting anything for it. It doesn't sound stunning to you?
Ilana Dayan: Esther, on a personal level, I understand the toll has become even heavier since February of this year when you were diagnosed with cancer.
Esther Pollard: Ilana can you believe it - that there is such a government that won't even speak to the agent that they are supposed to be rescuing! And even now .. Ilana, when you wanted to speak to me - you read the (Ma'ariv) article and you immediately picked up the phone to Ben Caspit and got my number. The government also read the article, but not a single person has picked up the phone to call me.
Ilana Dayan: All the same let's return to the article because it brings up your illness in a sharp and most painful way. I really want you to go back for me, Esther and recreate the moment that you knew that you had to tell Jonathan.
Esther Pollard: The trouble is that this is not fiction. This is our life, and it really really hurts. It was very hard to tell him. I knew how he would react. Even I did not react well when I first heard the not-very-good news.
Ilana Dayan: How did he react?
Esther Pollard: Just as he described in the article. Shock. He went into complete shock. It was very hard for him. He couldn't even touch me. He couldn't hold me or comfort me... Nothing. He couldn't help me. He couldn't even be with me.
I told him, Jonathan, all these years I have wanted so badly for you to be home with me. Now, for the first time, it is not about wanting any more, it is about needing - I need you home with me now.
Ilana Dayan: How do you feel now?
Esther Pollard: The same way... It is very hard. It is even harder because he is sick, I am sick, and my mother is sick. I can't even take my mother home to take care of her because I am always traveling. I am always traveling, either to Jonathan, or to her, or to Israel. Ilana, what kind of thing is it that I have to leave my own medical treatment, leave my sick husband in prison in the U.S., leave my sick mother in Montreal , and travel here to Israel to cry out to the government "Open up the doors! Talk to us!" Even up to this day, (we haven't heard) not a single word from them - in spite of all of our attempts to make contact... nothing.
Ilana Dayan: Let's hope that at least someone will hear your cry for help this morning. Esther Pollard, thank-you.