Arutz7 Interview of Esther Pollard
"Barak is Doing Exactly What He Accused Netanyahu of"
JERUSALEM - December 23, 1999
Arutz7's Ron Meir interviewed Esther Pollard upon her return to Israel to attend the Supreme Court hearing of her husband's petition. Esther Pollard spoke about Prime Minister Barak's calculated moves to create the false impression in the Israeli media that Jonathan Pollard will be released if Israel withdraws from the Golan. This false publicity, she explained, appears aimed at impressing both the Supreme Court (which is about to hear Jonathan Pollard's petition against Barak), and the Israeli people (to soften opposition to withdrawal from the Golan Heights.) There is, she said, no substance to these reports in the Israeli media.
The text of the interview follows:
Ron Meir: Probably the victim of the most disinformation over the last 15 years has been Jonathan Pollard - his case has been the subject of endless disinformation in the media, as it continues to be publicized in both the American and the Israeli media, Tonight we want to clarify some things, with Esther Pollard, wife of Jonathan Pollard. Good evening Esther!
Esther Pollard: Good evening Ron!
Ron Meir: Esther is in Israel to pursue the suit against Ehud Barak that was started several weeks ago. I would like to take this opportunity, Esther, to clarify a lot of the information that has been publicized in the Israeli and the American press over the last little while. One of the things you said, is that President Clinton is trying to defuse the Pollard issue as an election issue for his wife, and also for Al Gore, by turning down clemency for Jonathan Pollard - this time with Barak's cooperation, with his tacit approval. I want to first talk about the issue of Al Gore and how true it could be that the Pollard issue will affect the presidency or presidential hopeful, Al Gore.
Esther Pollard: I think it is important to first point out that Bill Clinton's personal interest is really Hillary, and Bill Clinton has nothing to do with Al Gore's chances whatsoever. (In fact Gore is doing all he can to distance himself from Clinton.)
However, Jonathan Pollard is an issue for Al Gore. And Jonathan Pollard is an issue for Hillary Clinton. As an example, both Hillary and Al Gore were in New York last week. One was on a fund-raiser (that was Mr. Gore) and Hillary Clinton was meeting with the Jewish community. After Hillary Clinton met with the Jewish community, Leaders of the OU and their invited guests, and she was asked about Jonathan, her reply was so outrageous, that...
Ron Meir: What did she say?
Esther Pollard: Essentially the same thing her husband Bill Clinton said in his
1992 election campaign. He said
"After I am elected, I will review the case." In his
1996 election campaign he said,
"After I am elected, I will review the case." In
1998, after he reneged (on his promise to free Jonathan Pollard) at Wye, her husband said,
"After I am elected, I will review the case." And Mrs. Clinton essentially told the Jewish community - and now it is
1999, and now we know all the judicial inequities in this case -
"After I am elected, I will review the case."
Ron Meir: What was the response of the Jewish leaders then?
Esther Pollard: The response of the Jewish leaders, the Orthodox Union, was totally inadequate. This infuriated the grassroots even more. The net result is that a week later Hillary Clinton was down 20 points in the polls. When that happened, (Hillary's major slip in the polls) you suddenly saw a flurry of activity on the part of the White House and on the part of Mr. Barak. - Mr. Barak has his own problems with Pollard, because next week we go back to the Supreme Court of Israel to have our petition heard.
Ron Meir: For people who haven't been following the last months, you put out some press releases about Barak's initial involvement in the Jonathan Pollard case while Barak was still a top IDF official. Can you tell us some background as to what his connection is.
Esther Pollard: We recently discovered, according to FOI material that we obtained in the United States via the Freedom of Information Act, that Ehud Barak who always claimed to he had nothing to do with the Pollard case at its inception, lied. He in fact held, if not the first, then one of the first, official meetings with the Americans about the case. And he did that in his official role while he was the head of AMAN (Israeli Military Intelligence).
Ron Meir: Right.
Esther Pollard: Now, as you know Ron, those early meetings set the tone for the next 12 years. And the tone of the case for the next 12 years was Israel denying all responsibility; pretending that Jonathan had no connection with them; just throwing him to the dogs.
Ron Meir: Barak was carrying the party line at that time, disassociating Israel from Jonathan?
Esther Pollard: He set the party line. He set the party line! These were the first meetings. This is where the tone was set. This is where it was decided.
Ron Meir: So you see his current lack of resolve to deal with issue and solve the Pollard case as a result of his early involvement?
Esther Pollard: You know what Ron? You know what is really critical? You have to understand that
Mr. Barak is now doing exactly what he accused Netanyahu of doing! In other words, Barak is making a lot of noise in the press for his own political domestic gains, while damaging Jonathan's chances for release. The difference between what Bibi did and what Barak is doing is that Bibi was actually trying to bring Jonathan home, Mr. Barak is not.
Mr. Barak is making noise to serve his own political ends, of which at this point, there are several. One of these is to keep suggesting through oblique sources - never through his own office - that Jonathan Pollard is part of the deal for ceding the Golan Heights. (There is of course no substance to these suggestions, they are intended to impress the Supreme Court as if Barak is really doing something about Pollard and to impress the public to soften the opposition to a withdrawal from the Golan.)
Ron Meir: Of course the latest article in the The Washington Post, December 20th reports that a senior official in the Israeli Defense Ministry was once again involved in these very important meetings in order to free Pollard. What do you have to say about that latest set of meetings?
Esther Pollard: That's a joke. The Israeli Embassy itself (in Washington) gave a statement to the American media stating that Mr. Kochanovsky (the Israeli official being referred to here) is in America on
a fact-finding mission and to acquaint himself with the case. The Embassy spokesperson said and I quote, "Mr. Kochanovsky's visit
does not signal any new Israeli initiative for Pollard."
But if you read YEDIOT yesterday or MA'ARIV the day before, they were hailing Kochanovsky as some kind of hero for "holding secret talks" for Pollard! Nonsense! - Ron, I want to caution all of your listeners tonight:
When you read about it in the media before you see it - there is no deal.
Ron Meir: The irony of it is, that before the (Israeli) elections Barak was asked to sign a joint letter to Clinton asking for the release of Jonathan Pollard. He claimed that he did not want to be involved in anything so public and that working privately behind the scenes would be best for Pollard. Now you are suggesting that he is, in fact, doing just what he claimed he was against, by publicizing (Kochanovsky's) secret meetings when in fact there is no content to it.
Esther Pollard: It was Barak's own office that announced Kochanovsky's meetings. If there were any seriousness to these talks no one would have heard a word about Pollard or about a senior defense ministry official going to Washington. Let me put it to you this way: When in the Fall this year, President Clinton freed 16 unrepentant FALN Puerto Rican terrorists, he didn't ask anyone's permission. He didn't need agreement from his Justice, Intelligence or Defense departments (they were all opposed). He invoked his executive powers to grant clemency - which are his according to the Constitution - and he freed them. Everyone screamed and yelled, and he responded by saying tough luck, it is my constitutional right (to grant clemency as I see fit).
Ron Meir: To play the devil's advocate for a second, one could argue that the (FALN) issue was an internal domestic issue whereas Pollard's involvement in espionage was an international issue.
Esther Pollard: Ron, first of all remember that there are no limitations on the President's right to grant clemency so it doesn't matter a whit who committed the crime or why or where. The President has the constitutional right to set them free. Secondly, the FALN are a Puerto Rican terrorist group, for a Puerto Rican nationalist movement, responsible for hundreds of bombings in throughout the United States, and the deaths and injuries of scores of Americans. This is an internal domestic issue?
Ron Meir: Puerto Rico is not an independent nation. It is a satellite country of the US...
Esther Pollard: So is Israel, if you judge by its behavior and obsequiousness towards the United States. Unfortunately we have yet to act like a sovereign nation. If you want a glimpse of what it looks like to act like a sovereign nation, look at the response of the Chinese to the Wen Ho Lee case. Recently Wen Ho Lee was finally charged, long after giving American nuclear secrets to China. The Chinese community is all up in arms accusing the Americans of racism, and helping to raise funds for Lee. They are offering to help Lee counter-sue the American government for daring to indict him!
Ron Meir: You are listening to 98.7 FM. We are talking to Esther Pollard. Esther, I wanted to ask you about the strategy at this point in time. The political attempt to try to free him by Netanyahu at Wye failed; and now Barak who is not acting in good faith - is your plan to press forward with this suit that you have in Israeli Supreme Court?
Esther Pollard: Mr. Barak does not have a choice. He is the Prime Minister of this nation and the buck stops with him. If he will not act in good faith to bring Jonathan home, then the courts must force him.
Our suit asks to see the secret material about these meetings that Barak had with the Americans at the beginning, and it also asks for Jonathan's complete file from the Ministry of Defense. Ron, the Israeli government has been holding all the information needed to clear Jonathan of all these false charges against him in his Defense Ministry file for 15 years and they just sat on it! They have never used it to help him, to clear his name, or to get him out.
Ron Meir: I'd like to move on to a personal development in the case. Ha'Rav Mordecai Eliyahu visited your husband recently in prison.
Esther Pollard: Ha'Rav Mordecai Eliyahu is my husband's rav. He has visited Jonathan on a number of occasions - even in spite of government opposition to his visiting. He recently visited. (I was at the visit) He added a "heh" to Jonathan's name. If people are davening for Jonathan, they are asked to now please daven for Yehonatan ben Malka.
Ron Meir: We notice that there is also a connection to that in Tnach (the Bible) when Moshe Rabbeinu added a "yud" to Hoshea bin Nun's name, hoping in that case to save Hoshea from the bad influence of the other spies. We are hoping that additional "heh" in Yehonatan Pollard's name helps to inject divine mercy into the Pollard situation.
Esther Pollard: Amain! (Amen!)
Ron Meir: Esther Pollard - wife of Jonathan Pollard, who has been a prisoner of Zion for 14 years, now going on 15 years -thank you very much for joining us tonight!
Esther Pollard: Thank you Ron.
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