PM Sharon's "Cheap Shot" - An Interview With Esther Pollard
Hillel Fendel - Israel National Radio - Arutz7 - November 27, 2001
Prime Minister Sharon's exact quotes - secretly recorded - appear in the interview below, and reflect his government's callousness and indifference to the fate of an Israeli agent who has spent the last the last 16 years of his life in an American prison for his service to the State.
On November 23, 2001 an erroneous Galei Tzhal (IDF) Radio news report spread like wildfire throughout the Israeli media. Prime Minister Sharon, it claimed, had promised to seek the release of Jonathan Pollard at his meeting with President Bush early December. The report was based on a secretly-recorded tape of the Prime Minister speaking to a gathering of prominent Likud party members in Kyriat Gat the same day. The meeting was closed to the press.
Justice for Jonathan Pollard has obtained a copy of the secretly-recorded tape. It is clear that Prime Minister Sharon made no such promise. In fact, the tape shows that he merely ducked the question and then took a cheap shot at Jonathan Pollard, filling the room with laughter.
Hillel Fendel: This is Hillel Fendel for Israel National Radio, Arutz7 and we are speaking with Esther Pollard wife of Jonathan Pollard who has just entered his 17th year of a life sentence for his activities on behalf of Israel.
Pollard is incarcerated at FCI Butner, a federal prison in North Carolina. His wife, Esther is speaking with us from North Carolina where she is visiting with her husband. Shalom Esther!
Esther Pollard: Shalom Hillel!
Hillel Fendel: Esther, we would like to ask you a few questions about two conflicting news stories that have just been aired. The first is a story that broke on Galei Zahal (IDF) Radio and was picked up by all the Israeli media., which claims that Prime Minister Sharon has promised to seek Jonathan's release when he meets with President Bush next week. You have indicated that you have proof that this is not true. And the second news story reports that Prime Minister Sharon has offered your husband $2 million to relieve Israel of its responsibility for seeking his release. First of all, where did Galei Zahal Radio get the idea that Sharon had made a promise to seek your husband's release?
Esther Pollard: The Galei Zahal report was based on a secretly-recorded tape of Prime Minister Sharon speaking with prominent Likud Party members and activists at a November 23 meeting in Kyriat Gat. Reporters were asked to leave so that the Prime Minister could speak freely. Nevertheless, a tape recorder continued to register every word he spoke. When the meeting was over, the tape was collected. We obtained a copy. It is clear from the tape that Sharon never promised that he would seek Jonathan's release when he meets with President Bush next week. This was a total misread of what he had said.
Hillel Fendel: What did Sharon say? And how did the subject of Jonathan Pollard come up?
Esther Pollard: One of the participants at the meeting asked the Prime Minster about Jonathan. He tells Sharon that there is a good Jew sitting in prison in the United States. His name is Jonathan Pollard. He did a lot for Israel. He has been in prison for 17 years. The government has not done anything to help him. What are you going to do about this?
Hillel Fendel: Did Sharon respond?
Esther Pollard: No, not directly. He avoids the question and responds by saying - and this is a direct quote from the transcript:
SHARON: "This is the worst problem. To tell the truth, it did not have to be handled this way. I can only say that it happened many years ago. At the time I had nothing whatsoever to do with the affair. It happened when I was no longer the Minister of Defense. I opposed commissioning an official investigation in Israel, but they told me that we had already promised [the US] that we would have one. Afterwards there was a discussion [in the Cabinet] and the idea came up about returning the documents. I was opposed and I said that we are sealing his fate to at least a life sentence. I don't want to say at this time what the other responses were, even from our own [Likud] people, because I do not want to cause any further pain.""
Hillel Fendel: Then?
Esther Pollard: Then he was asked, so do you intend to seek Pollard's release?
Hillel Fendel: How does he answer?
Esther Pollard: He answers, and I want to give you the quote in Hebrew:
SHARON: "Ta'meenoo lee, sheh anee ma'aleh eht zeh. Zeh da'vaar bayatee, avahl anee yachol lih'havteeach sheh anee ma'aleh eht zeh. Heh'ehleti eht zeh bih shnai mivgashim ha kodmeem sheli."
Hillel Fendel: In English, please?
Esther Pollard: SHARON: "Believe me, I do bring it up. It is problematic; but I can promise you that I do bring it up. I brought it up in my last two meetings."
Hillel Fendel: Then?
Esther Pollard: Then he takes a cheap shot at Jonathan and everyone laughs.
Hillel Fendel: What was the cheap shot?
Esther Pollard: Let me give you the Hebrew first:
SHARON: "Blee lifgoah - chas vih chaleelah ! - bih eeshtoh, hoo rotzeh lihishtachrare mee sham?"
Hillel Fendel: English?
Esther Pollard: In English, it would be something like this, said in a deeply sarcastic tone:
SHARON: "With no insult intended to his wife - perish the thought! - does he really want to get out of there?"
Hillel Fendel: And everyone laughs?
Esther Pollard: Yes. They all laugh. A sad commentary, isn't it? This is Israel's Prime Minister amusing himself and his colleagues at Jonathan's expense. No wonder they asked reporters to leave the room.
Hillel Fendel: What do you make of this?
Esther Pollard: It makes one wonder how many other critical issues in Israel these leaders are trashing instead of handling. It is really shocking.
In any case, the point is: Sharon did NOT say that he promises to bring up the issue of Jonathan's release with President Bush next week, as the Galei Zahal story went. All he said was "Believe me I bring it up" and "Believe me I brought it up" - and of course he never said with whom he had brought "it" up, or in what context. Note that he never said he brought Jonathan up directly with the President. Note that he never said that he has actually asked for Jonathan's release.
Hillel Fendel: Do you think he has?
Esther Pollard: No. We know that he has never brought the issue of Jonathan's release up directly with the President. We know that he has never specifically asked the President to release Jonathan. We have very, very high level sources in Washington; sources that are in a position to authenticate exactly what is going on, on this issue at all levels. This tends to explain why all one hears from Sharon about Jonathan are these nebulous statements of "I do bring it up". The questions remain: What exactly does he bring up? And who does he bring it up with? It isn't Jonathan and it isn't with the President.
Hillel Fendel: Esther, tell us about Sharon's offer of $2 million dollars to Jonathan.
Esther Pollard: It is close to $2 million. It is not exactly $2 million, but close to $2 million. Up from the original offer of $1 million.
Hillel Fendel: Now as far as the Government of Israel is concerned, that offer is still in effect?
Esther Pollard: Jonathan refused the original offer of $1 million of blood-money because he knew it was only intended to buy his silence and bury him alive. So how does the Government respond? They up the offer of blood-money to close to $2 million.
Hillel Fendel: Blood-money.
Esther Pollard: This is not money that is intended to assist Jonathan. Think about it. If you were the Prime Minister of Israel and you intended to rescue your agent and bring him home, would you be sending an envoy to him in prison to offer him millions of dollars? What does a prisoner need $2 million for? Shampoo and stamps?
Instead, if you were sincere about rescuing your agent, you would send an envoy to reassure him that you intend to have him home by Chanukah and that if he has any immediate needs the Government will take care of them and that all other claims or issues will be dealt with as soon as he is home.
It is only when you have absolutely no intention of rescuing your agent that you might suddenly try throwing major sums of money at him to simply silence him.
Hillel Fendel: What's in it for the Government ?
Esther Pollard: If Jonathan were foolish enough to accept the Government's offer of blood money, this would allow them to write him off ; to bury him alive. It would provide them with the excuse: "Look, we are trying, but the Americans are intransigent. But don't worry about Pollard. We just gave him $2 million. He and his wife are well-taken care of."
Hillel Fendel: Are you saying that you have given up on the Government?
Esther Pollard: We have no right to give up on the Israeli government; we have no right to absolve them of their responsibility for Jonathan! And the people of Israel have no right to give up on insisting that the Government of Israel fulfill its legal and moral obligation to seek the release of an Israeli agent!
One of the reasons, that Israel is experiencing such tzahr, such anguish in so many areas - and I believe this with all my heart - is that successive administrations in Israel have been permitted to abandon individual Jews. The minute that the nation allows the government to abandon even one Jew, every Jew is hefker, and every Jew is at risk.
And we are watching this occur. The Israeli policy of abandonment that started with Jonathan Pollard, which decided that one Jew was expendable, has now gone on to making soldiers in Israel expendable, making entire communities in Israel expendable, making certain cities in Israel expendable, and so on. This is not the Jewish way, and it is having a devastating effect on the nation.
Hillel Fendel: At the same time that you are not giving up on the Israeli Government are there things that you can do to further Jonathan's release?
Esther Pollard: Please understand, we are not hoping in the Israeli Government. We hope only in Ha'Shem. When I say we are not giving up, what I mean is that we are not relieving the Government of its responsibility. They came to Jonathan with an offer of $2 million and said, "This is all we will do for you. Here! Take it!" They have refused to do even the most simple, most basic initiatives that Jonathan has requested!
Hillel Fendel: Can you give us some idea of what you mean by simple initiatives?
Esther Pollard: Even a letter to be sent to the President, to the House and Senate and to communal and organizational leaders articulating an official Israeli position on the issue of Jonathan Pollard was refused. Jonathan requested that a joint letter signed by the Prime Minister, the Foreign Minister, the Israeli Speaker of the House and the President, be sent and they would not even do that. Even a letter, they refused!
Hillel Fendel: What else?
Esther Pollard: A delegation! Twenty Cabinet Ministers and Deputy Ministers signed a petition to the Prime Minister which was initiated by attorney Larry Dub and the late Minister Rechavam Ze'evi, asking Sharon to immediately send a high-level delegation to the US for no other purpose than to seek Jonathan's release. This is something that Israel has done for every other agent in captivity, yet in the 17 years that Jonathan has been in prison Israel has never done this for him!
Hillel Fendel: How did Sharon respond to the petition?
Esther Pollard: The Prime Minister simply turned his back and ignored it. This is unacceptable!
Our nation is a nation of soldiers. And a soldier who goes out to battle on behalf of the State of Israel has to know that if he is captured that the government will do everything in its power to secure his release - regardless of who the friend or enemy happens to be that is holding him.
Remember also that on May 12, 1998 when the Government of Israel recognized that Jonathan Pollard was an Israeli agent, they did not suddenly make him into an Israeli agent, they simply acknowledged that he always was an Israeli agent - one whom they had lied about and abandoned. The 1998 declaration was simply an acknowledgment of the truth. And from that point on, it was natural, normal and moral for the government to pull out all stops to get Jonathan home. Well, nearly another four years have gone by - Jonathan has just entered his 17th year of incarceration - and if I tell you that there are no efforts currently being made by the Government of Israel to secure Jonathan's release, believe me, I mean that there are NO efforts whatsoever - nothing!
Hillel Fendel: Esther, why do you think that successive Prime Ministers of Israel have avoided making Jonathan's release a national priority? Why have they not sent a high level delegation to the US to negotiate his release? Why have they avoided bringing it up directly in talks with the President?
Esther Pollard: The only ones who can answer these questions are the Prime Ministers themselves. But I can suggest two possible explanations.
Hillel Fendel: Please do.
Esther Pollard: First all remember that successive Prime Ministers and successive key Cabinet Ministers - including those in power today - are all the same players that were in office when Jonathan was arrested. They may have changed hats, going from being the Prime Minister to the Foreign Minister, or from the Defense Minister to the Prime Minister, but with the exception of Netanyahu, they were all the same players that were in the picture during the time of Jonathan's operation. Even though they continue to implausibly deny their involvement, each one had some degree of involvement in the affair. Over the years, this has become more apparent as documented proof of their involvement continues to surface.
Nevertheless, it appears that these political figures are more concerned with maintaining their implausible denial of personal involvement than they are with any concern for rescuing Jonathan.
Hillel Fendel: True! According to the transcript you have, the first thing Sharon responded when he as asked what the Government is doing for Jonathan today was to deny that he was involved in the operation 17 years ago!
Esther Pollard: Exactly. I was contacted by John Loftus not long ago. He is a former federal prosecutor and an investigative journalist. He indicated to me that he has evidence Prime Minister Sharon was indeed involved in the Pollard affair - deeply involved. At that point, we said, "John we are not going down that path. We are asking the Prime Minister to do the right thing, because it is the right thing." The point is the highest level of the political echelon in Israel - the ones that hold the power - are really a tiny clique. The same individuals keep recycling themselves from government to government
Hillel Fendel: So what is the second possible reason?
Esther Pollard: I have actually combined the 2 possible reasons in what I just explained.
First of all you have all of the same players remaining on the political scene for the last 17 years just changing political positions. And secondly, and of these players have some incredibly bad conscience about their involvement in the Pollard affair. I don't know what they did. I honestly do not know what it is they did that would make them so fearful. I don't know what dirty secrets they may hold to this day. Jonathan does not know either. But it must be pretty bad if after 17 years in prison, instead of seeking Jonathan's release, they throw money at him.
Hillel Fendel: Do you think that they are afraid that if Jonathan gets out he might say something to embarrass or shame them?
Esther Pollard: Jonathan does not have anything to say. More importantly, I think it is important for the people of Israel to know this - just prior to his assassination in 1995, Prime Minister Rabin sent an envoy to Jonathan with a document listing all the conditions that Jonathan would have to abide by if he were released. Among those conditions were that he would not make statements, he would not write books, he would not given high-profile interviews and so on. Jonathan signed off on those conditions without hesitating. So there really is no problem and no reason for the government to worry that Jonathan might say something. Jonathan has always shown that he is willing to cooperate and work with the government on that.
Hillel Fendel: That is clear.
Esther Pollard: One more thing. Jonathan's rabbi is HaRav Mordecai Eliyahu [the Rishon Le Tzion and the former chief rabbi of Israel]. Since 1991 he is on record at the Justice Department and at the White House, offering to take Jonathan into his custody and to be his guarantor.
Just before Passover this year, we received word from a high-level inside source that President Bush was open to receiving HaRav Eliyahu who could bring a request for Jonathan's release as a holiday gesture. We were told that the meeting for HaRav Eliyahu had to be set up by the Government of Israel so that the Americans would not be perceived as the initiators.
That is why myself, HaRav Eliyahu, Rechavaam Ze'evi and Larry Dub went to meet with the Prime Minister. We told him about this offer. We explained what the deal was. All he had to do was to make the call to the White House and to set up the meeting for HaRav Eliyahu. The Prime Minister knew who our source was and that the message was a bona fide invitation to resolve this problem once and for all.
Hillel Fendel: You are saying that you had an inside source...
Esther Pollard: [interjects] -a very good inside source!
Hillel Fendel: ... in the American Government that said that President Bush is open to resolving the Pollard issue and that if only a request would come from the Israeli Government to receive HaRav Eliyahu, Jonathan's rabbi, that that could lead to progress towards his release.
Esther Pollard: We were actually told that Jonathan could be home in time for Seder night.
Hillel Fendel: What! And Sharon refused to act?! When did this occur?
Esther Pollard: We got the message before Passover. I immediately got on a plane for Israel and sought a meeting with the Prime Minister. Three days before Passover Sharon finally agreed to meet with us. HaRav Eliyahu told the Prime Minister that he was willing to leave for the States at once.
Hillel Fendel: And????
Esther Pollard: And Sharon turned his back.
Hillel Fendel: He turned his back? What did he say?
Esther Pollard: What he said to us at the time was the same kind of shtooyoht bih mitz agvaniot [nonsense] that I quoted you earlier from the tape. He did not respond directly to our request; he just started the whole litany of evasions that he gave to the Likud activists. We responded by saying, that is fine, but that is not what we are asking. We have and open and shut invitation to action to end this affair once and for all. We need you to act. All you have to do is set up the appointment for HaRav Eliyahu. Sharon then asked for a little time to consider the request and promised he would get back to us.
Hillel Fendel: It sounds as if Sharon has some personal reason to fear Jonathan's release.
Esther Pollard: His behavior certainly seems to indicate so.
Hillel Fendel: What if Jonathan were to make a public statement to the effect of "I know Ariel Sharon had nothing to do with my case" (whether it is true or not) and then Sharon would have nothing to fear.
Esther Pollard: Hillel. Please. A man's life is at stake. We have told the government unequivocally that we are willing to cooperate in whatever way is necessary. If anyone in the Government requires reassure from Jonathan, Jonathan is prepared to give it.
Hillel Fendel: Well then why not make the statement?
Esther Pollard: Because that is not the way assurances are given. They are given quietly, in signed documents, like the one that Rabin sent to Jonathan to sign off on. Remember Hillel, this Prime Minister (Sharon) is not negotiating with Jonathan about his release. He is just negotiating with Jonathan about how much money it might take to buy him off! Think of how enormous his fear must be, how dirty his conscience is that the money offers just keep going up!
Hillel Fendel: Again, why not make the public statement to reassure Sharon?
Esther Pollard: OK, Hillel. This is Arutz7 Radio, you can't get more public than that, and here is our statement: "We do not hold Prime Minister Sharon to blame for Jonathan's incarceration. We would love to give him credit for seeking Jonathan's release." Really Hillel, what you are asking is so simplistic as to be almost silly. Reassurances are given in legally binding documents not in public pronouncements.
Hillel Fendel: But...
Esther Pollard: In fact, you cannot avoid the truth coming out. Sooner or later it will.
Several days after our meeting with Sharon, Rechavam Ze'evi z"l called me. I knew he had been pressing Sharon for a response as to whether he was going to send HaRav Eliyahu to Washington to get Jonathan. It was still Passover. The holiday offer was still good.
Rechavam said to me, "Deebarti eem Arik. Anee meetbayesh. Anee pashut meetbayesh mee tgoovahtoh shel Rosh HaMemshala." In English, "I spoke to Arik. I am ashamed. I am utterly ashamed of the Prime Minister's response."
Hillel Fendel: Was that it?
Esther Pollard: No. Rechavam continued, "If Arik had said that now was not the time; that he has reasons that that he wants to wait until next week, or next month or even next year, I could have accepted that. I would not have liked it but I could have accepted it. But he made it clear to me that he would do nothing for Pollard - not now, not later, not ever."
Hillel Fendel: That is terrible. I sympathize. Sharon's response shames us all. But it still leaves us with no answers. It just doesn't make any sense and people do not know how to deal with it.
Esther Pollard: I think it is terribly important - if you recall when I first contacted you to let you know that the report that Sharon had promised to seek Jonathan's release was erroneous and based on a total misread of the tape - what I pointed out to you is if a lie like that is allowed to stand, the Israeli people will get a mistaken understanding of who and what this Prime Minister is and what they can count on him for. If Mr. Sharon will not deal honestly with one Jew, an Israeli agent incarcerated for 17 years and bring him home - as the Prime Minister is legally and morally obliged to do; if all of his efforts are devoted to burying his agent alive in prison, then how can
6 million Jews in Israel count on him? How can the Israeli people believe that all of their demonstrations, all of their petitions, all of their faxes to the PM, will make any difference when the cries of Yosef min ha'bor (the cries of Joseph from the pit) make absolutely no difference.
When the legal and moral obligations of a Prime Minister to his people are being swept aside and blood-money being tossed about, the entire nation is in jeopardy.
Hillel Fendel: Esther I think that our listeners hear you and that they are taking the lead from you and Jonathan, not to give up and not to release the Israeli government from its obligations to us. We are turning to you to ask, what can we do? What can listeners do to facilitate the release of Jonathan Pollard from prison?
Esther Pollard: First and foremost every Jew in Israel has to understand that as long as Yoseph is still in the bor - as long as Jonathan is still in prison - nothing good will happen for Israel. I am not a prophet, I am not a seer, but our sages teach us that the mitzvah of pidyan shvuyim is so great that we are permitted to sell a Torah scroll to fulfill it. We are even permitted to desecrate the Sabbath, if necessary, to perform the mitzvah of pidyan shvuyim.
Hillel Fendel: In English, you are referring to the mitzvah of redeeming a captive?
Esther Pollard: Correct. If we ignore this mitzvah, as we have done for 17 years, for numerous reasons - I am not blaming the people of Israel, but for whatever the reasons, the people of Israel have, singly and collectively left this whole issue of pidyan shvuyim up to a very corrupt political establishment which has no intention of doing what it is morally and legally obliged to do. And for that reason, real sorrow and anguish has been brought upon the people of Israel.
Hillel, I should share with you that Jonathan's prison conditions have deteriorated more in the past year than in the last ten years that he has been at FCI Butner. Every week there is new anguish; every week there is some new hardship Jonathan must bear. Does that strike a chord? How about if we just take out Jonathan's name and substitute in the name "Israel", and instead of "prison" conditions let's substitute in "security" conditions. Then my last remarks would be "Israel's security conditions have deteriorated more in the past year than they have in the last 10 years - every week there is new anguish; every week there is some new hardship Israel must bear."
Hillel, what is happening in Israel is happening lock-step along with what is happening to Jonathan. Every time Jonathan is threatened, something terrible happens in Israel; every time Jonathan's conditions deteriorate, there is a parallel deterioration in Israel.
Hillel Fendel: What you are saying is that the fate of the Jews is all tied together. That Jonathan's security situation and Israel's general situation are both tied to each other.
Esther Pollard: Absolutely! Absolutely!
Hillel Fendel: What about a mass demonstration in Israel for Jonathan Pollard, would that help? Has anyone ever organized one?
Esther Pollard: No. No one has, and it would make a difference.
Hillel Fendel: Which public organizations can be called on?
Esther Pollard: The only one that is functioning in Israel right now is The Committee to Bring Jonathan Pollard Home. The Committee is not directly under our auspices but they do consult with us on an activity to activity basis and we give our endorsement on a case by case basis.
Hillel Fendel: How can they be contacted?
Esther Pollard: Our attorney in Jerusalem, Larry Dub has the contact information.
Hillel Fendel: So perhaps the Committee can..
Esther Pollard: Remember, this is a relatively small group of activists at this point, and they are under funded. It takes an awful lot of money and tremendous manpower to organize a massive demonstration.
Hillel Fendel: What if a lot of people pitched in?
Esther Pollard: That would be good, but remember, one demonstration will not do it. The Government has to be shown that this is an issue that is not going to go away until Jonathan is home.
Hillel Fendel: Do you think that enough pressure could be brought to bear so that Sharon will do the right thing?
Esther Pollard: Hillel, even if the people of Israel cannot get the Prime Minister of Israel to act, you have to keep showing him that you will not stop stripping away the pretense; that you know that he is not doing what he should be doing as the Prime Minister, because Hillel, if he isn't going to do it for Jonathan, he is not going to do what he supposed to for the people of Israel.
Hillel Fendel: Esther if you could have people send faxes to one government official in Israel or in the US, who would it be?
Esther Pollard: Definitely the Prime Minister. The Israeli people must hold Prime Minister Sharon accountable for his refusal to deal with the issue of Jonathan's release honestly, honorably, effectively and directly with the President.
Hillel Fendel: Anyone else?
Esther Pollard: I should mention someone else, but in another context. I am afraid that this interview may open a whole other can of worms by prompting a media response from [Minister] Dani Naveh. He may feel that this is his cue to get on the radio and talk about how he is the Cabinet representative for Jonathan Pollard and how he and the government are doing so much for Jonathan etc. Let me head off that possibility by stating that Dani Naveh himself is now a problem.
Naveh, as part of the Netanyahu government, was in a number of instances, helpful and constructive. Since he joined the Sharon government that is not the case. He has become a cipher for Prime Minister Sharon to hurt Jonathan, to smear him with bad publicity about the money, and to ignore him when he visits the States. Naveh's behavior and his actions have not been friendly or constructive. We want this to be known publicly. He has a lot of tshuva (repenting) to do before he can be believed again.
Hillel Fendel: You've mentioned faxing Prime Minister Sharon in Israel. What about in the States?
Esther Pollard: (sighs deeply) Israelis should focus their attention on the Israeli Government. The problem for Israelis is not what the Americans are doing but what the Israeli Government is not doing to defend her own interests.
Look, the US is asking Israel to make painful concessions in order to support the US war on terrorism. It is the most legitimate thing in the world for Israel to respond by asking the US for a gesture, asking for the return of her agent, Jonathan Pollard. It would be the most cost-free, easy gesture for the US to make, and I can tell you from our insider sources that if Israel were to ask, it would be granted. The trouble is, Israel is not asking.
Hillel Fendel: Just to get a different perspective, how is Jonathan's health. How is he doing?
Esther Pollard: (sighs) He is suffering horribly. He is living in inhumane conditions. The actual physical atmosphere has changed. The prison is now very, very overcrowded. It has been flooded with very dangerous and violent criminals. The overcrowding has led to a severe deterioration in security conditions as well as sanitary conditions. There is very poor ventilation. Diseases are easily spread because of the poor ventilation. Jonathan's immune system is shot. He is constantly sick. Getting appropriate medical treatment in prison is next to impossible. Jonathan always had respiratory problems and now they are worse. His sinus cavities are filled with growths. He suffers from excruciating headaches, nausea and dizziness. He has a series of other medical problems as well, that simply cannot be adequately attended to in prison and there is an absolute refusal to allow him to be taken to a hospital, or to allow a doctor from the outside to come in and treat him. He is suffering every single day.
His prison conditions, things like living quarters, have deteriorated. He has to watch his back all the time. His phone time has been radically cut. Jonathan recently noted that there are reports in the Israeli press that Yigal Amir has filed a demand to increase his phone time - and Amir has 4 or 5 times as much time on the phone as Jonathan does! Not that we are questioning the legitimacy of Amir's request. This is just to show you how severely restricted Jonathan is by any reasonable comparison.
Hillel Fendel: In the face of all that Jonathan is confronting is it possible to retain some hope?
Esther Pollard: Pardon? I did not hear the question. You are asking about hope?
Hillel Fendel: Well, we would like to retain some hope but in this case, it is a little bit hard. Jonathan is up against so much.
Esther Pollard: Can I tell you something? The more obvious it becomes that Mr. Sharon's whole objective is to cast Jonathan off and leave him to die in prison, the more determined Jonathan becomes to survive as a Kiddush Ha'Shem (a sanctification of G-d's name). So if anything, the worse this Prime Minister behaves as a leader of the Jewish people, the more Ha'Shem is helping Jonathan to hang in there. We mustn't give up. Our hope is not in Mr. Sharon. Our hope is in Ha'Shem, the Almighty G-d of Israel.
Hillel Fendel: Are you on your way to see Jonathan now?
Esther Pollard: Yes. Yes, I will be seeing him shortly. It will mean a great deal to him that we had the opportunity to speak with you and the Arutz7 listeners today.
Hillel Fendel: Please take with you our best wishes to him from Hillel Fendel and Baruch Gordon and the staff and all the listeners of Arutz7. We look forward to seeing him speedily back home, here in Israel with you.
Esther Pollard: Amain! And thank you!
Hillel Fendel: Esther Pollard, thank you for speaking with us today.
Esther Pollard: Oh, by the way, please ask all of the listeners to daven (pray) for Jonathan. His Hebrew name is Yehonatan ben Malka.
Hillel Fendel: Yehonatan ben Malka.
Esther Pollard: Thank you Hillel. Yashar Koach to you and to Arutz7. Keep up the good work!
Hillel Fendel: Thank you, Esther Pollard.
J4JP Note: The oral transcript of this interview has been edited to enhance readability, to amplify content and to replace paraphrased quotes with direct quotes of Prime Minister Sharon as secretly recorded November 23, 2001.