On the Sharpton Visit - An Interview with Esther Pollard
Excerpt of WWOR-TV Interview, November 29, 2001
Justice4JP Release - December 2, 2001
The following transcript is an excerpt of an extensive interview that Esther Pollard recently did for WWOR-TV. Esther was asked by the interviewer, Joanna Wzinsky, to address the possibility of Reverend Al Sharpton making a December prison visit to her husband, Jonathan, with a view to advocating for his release.
Question: Can you tell us basically how this proposed meeting between your husband and Al Sharpton came about. And in addition to that can you tell me, personally, from your point of view as Jonathan's wife, how you feel about it.
Esther: It's rather an interesting story. My husband reached out to Rabbi Shmuley Boteach. I am not sure if your viewers are aware that he is a writer and a public speaker. He is someone who has achieved some degree of prominence with his books. He is a man who is deeply invested in seeing justice for Jonathan Pollard. My husband reached out to Rabbi Boteach and invited him to make a prison visit to discuss ways in which he might participate more intensively in lobbying for justice for Jonathan.
Rabbi Boteach was told by my husband that he was welcome to bring another cleric of his choosing to this meeting. Rabbi Boteach got back to us and suggested that he bring Al Sharpton - Reverend Al Sharpton - to the visit with Jonathan. Jonathan immediately agreed.
That may seem surprising to some people, but in fact it was a relatively easy decision to make. We were aware that Reverend Sharpton has made public statements in the past, decrying Jonathan's sentence; saying that the sentence my husband is serving is far too harsh; calling for equal justice for Jonathan; and calling for his release. Based on that record, it was very easy for Jonathan to reach out and say, "Sure, I would welcome Reverend Sharpton's participation. He is welcome to attend the visit with Rabbi Boteach, and we could discuss how his enhanced involvement in this case might be put to best use."
At the same time, we were in touch with the Israeli Consulate, which immediately put in a request to Jerusalem that this visit be a consular visit. We got the answer back the next day that the request had been approved. This is now being sponsored as a consular visit. The Israeli consul will be escorting the various parties to see Jonathan on or around December 12th (if all goes according to plan) and I will also be participating in the visit.
Question: How do you feel about it?
Esther: How do I feel about it? I feel hopeful. We are very forward-looking in our approach. We have invited Reverend Sharpton and Rabbi Boteach to first meet with our attorneys, Eliot Lauer and Jacques Semmelman of Curtis, Mallet-Prevost, Colt and Mosle LLP, of Park Avenue, New York. Our attorneys are so devoted to seeing justice done in this case that they are working pro bono. They have generously offered to give of their time to brief any community leader, any political leader, any organizational leader who is willing to advocate for equal justice for Jonathan in this case; or to brief any leader that simply wants to learn more about the legal aspects of this case and how it affects all Americans. So, Eliot and Jacques, our attorneys, are quite happy to extend themselves to meet with Reverend Sharpton and Rabbi Boteach. They will hopefully be meeting with the attorneys before any prison visit takes place in order to receive a thorough grounding in the legal aspects of this case.
We know that Reverend Sharpton is on the right track because he is already on public record that Jonathan's sentence is too harsh, and calling for his release. We hope that once he has a thorough legal grounding in the case, that he will want to become more involved in a way that is constructive, responsible, and in harmony with our efforts to secure justice for Jonathan.
To that end, anyone who is willing advocate honestly in a case which Appellate Court Justice Stephen William called, " a complete and gross miscarriage of justice" - anyone who is willing to advocate for truth and for equal justice is doing a service, not only for Jonathan Pollard but for all Americans. We welcome any leader who is willing to join us in this fight.