A Place for Pollard Seder Night

Arutz7 & J4JP Report - April 3, 2003

Jonathan Pollard's rabbi, the former Chief Rabbi of Israel, His Eminence HaRav Mordecai Eliyahu, has given his blessing to a proposal by Rabbi Shlomo Aviner calling on all of Israel to set a place at the table for Jonathan Pollard on Seder Night. His empty chair symbolizes the longing and hope of the Nation to see Jonathan [Yehonatan Ben Malka] free and speedily returned home to Israel.

Arutz7 reports: On the political front, a disappointed Jonathan Pollard wrote a fiery letter to Justice Minister Tommy Lapid of Shinui, who went public a few days ago with the fact that his request to U.S. Attorney General Ashcroft for a pardon for Pollard had not borne fruit. "Of course not!," Pollard wrote. "The American Attorney General has no authority to pardon anyone! Only the President can. By going to the wrong official, you have done my case immeasurable harm. This initiative merely broadcasts to the Americans, Israel's insincerity and indifference towards my release."

"My attorney, Larry Dub, asked to meet with you in Jerusalem BEFORE your trip to Washington," Pollard wrote, "in order to introduce you to my American attorneys, [who] would have briefed you on my new legal case. They would have told you that the most effective help that you could request from John Ashcroft would be to allow my attorneys access to the classified portion of my court docket... [They] would also have asked you to banish the word 'pardon' from your vocabulary. .. . [A]n important opportunity was lost..." The full text of Pollard's letter to Minister Lapid can be seen at www.israelnationalnews.com or on the J4JP web site.

"Even after you failed with Ashcroft," Pollard also wrote, "you could have sustained an American initiative had you, even at that point, met with our attorneys and asked them for input and direction. You could have come to see me. Instead you went to the media. That was, of course, the surest way to kill any further initiative on my behalf."

Pollard's wife Esther spoke with Israel Radio on Monday and explained that the publicizing of Lapid's contacts actually harmed chances for her husband's release: "It broadcast a message to the Americans that this initiative was really an Israeli domestic issue undertaken for public-relations purposes in Israel, and not a serious initiative in the US for Jonathan's release."

J4JP adds:

The lack of serious intent behind the Lapid/Ashcroft "effort" is underscored by the failure of the Israeli Government, for the 18th year in a row, to exploit the recent AIPAC Policy Conference in Washington to lobby for the release of Jonathan Pollard. The AIPAC Conference is well attended by American officials, and closely monitored by the Administration. Any issue which is important to the Government of Israel is always prominently featured at the annual conference.

Justice Minister Tommy Lapid - fresh from his meeting with Attorney General Ashcroft - was one of the prominent speakers at the AIPAC Conference. So was Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom. Neither Israeli official ever mentioned Jonathan Pollard in their keynote speeches or in private meetings. The message was not lost on the American Administration: Jonathan Pollard - even after 18 years of incarceration, even despite his prescient role in preparing Israel for the Gulf War and the current Iraqi War - is still no issue for the Government of Israel.

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