B'Sheva Part II: In The House of Slavery
[Translated from Hebrew by J4JP]
Ofra Lax - B'sheva News Magazine - April 16, 2003
PROLOGUE: Israel's ousting of Jonathan Pollard from the Embassy in Washington into the waiting arms of the FBI was just the beginning of an epic saga of abandonment and betrayal of her loyal agent. The American Government and the US Department of Justice have consistently acted with unprecedented harshness towards Pollard; for 18 years Israel and American Jewry have been complicit and just looked the other way. Ofra Lax reports on the Pollard Case; the operation, the arrest, the judicial sabotage, the years of hardship in prison and the shameful Israeli failure.
It is hard to read about what has happened to Jonathan Pollard over the last 20 years. After all every Israeli citizen wants to believe that the Government of Israel takes care of her own people and her agents; and that the United States is a country that supports what is good for Israel. But everything that has happened to Jonathan Pollard indicates otherwise.
The Government of Israel worked with Pollard as long as he was supplying her with information. But from the time of his arrest, Israel and her ally the United States of America, have collaborated in burying him alive over and over again. If the skeptical reader has any doubts of this, Esther and Jonathan Pollard have ample proof of it all. This article deals with only a small portion of the events, and even that is shocking enough to make one wonder at the behavior of the Government of Israel and her abandonment of Jonathan Pollard, an Israeli agent who gave his life to the State.
In the early 1980's Jonathan Pollard worked as a civilian analyst for the American Navy. He noticed that the U.S. was illegally embargoing critical information from Israel in violation of an agreement signed by the two nations. The information which the U.S. was withholding from Israel concerned the development of conventional and non-conventional weapons by Iraq, Syria, Libya and Iran. Trying to get the information flow to Israel restored, Jonathan turned to his commanding officer to ask why this information was not being shared with Israel. His superior responded, "Israelis get nervous speaking about poison gas, so we don't tell them." Jonathan was undeterred, and he tried again and again to restore the legal flow of information to Israel, going all the way up the chain of command as far as the Pentagon, but without success. When it became apparent that this is how it was, he resolved to give the information to Israel himself.
He began to provide information to LAKAM, Israel's parliamentary intelligence agency, without any reward or remuneration. The State of Israel then insisted on making him a bona fide agent. The information that he provided to Israel allowed the Jewish State to prepare for the non-conventional weapons threat she faced during the Gulf War, and again for the current Iraqi war.
In 1985 Angie Kielczynski, a.k.a. Joseph Barak, an Israeli spy for the U.S., fingered Jonathan Pollard. Kielczynski, a Likud activist but not an MK, had been appointed by Likud leader Ariel Sharon to the Israel's Foreign Intelligence Committee. He used his position to become a spy for the C.I.A. for pay. To this day he has never been arrested or interrogated by Israel, even though he has returned to Israel and makes no secret of his espionage activities on behalf of America. [See: Transcript of Kol Yisrael Interview with Kielczynski].
When the FBI originally detained Jonathan they questioned him for hours on end. He let his Israeli handlers know that he was under investigation. They asked Jonathan to hold the FBI off as long as possible to give them a chance to evacuate the rest of the Israeli team. Jonathan did as he was asked. When the last member of the Israeli team had safely left the United States, Israel began a deliberate campaign of implausible deniability towards her agent.
When the FBI came to arrest him, Jonathan sought refuge in the Israeli Embassy in Washington, as he had been instructed to do by his handlers. After consulting with the Prime Minister's office in Jerusalem, Israeli Embassy staff threw Jonathan out of the embassy and into the waiting arms of the FBI.
"NOT AN ISRAELI AGENT"
Jonathan Pollard was forced to find his own lawyer, and on the recommendation of Israel's Foreign Ministry he hired a Lebanese American, Richard Hibey, who was paid for his services by the Government of Israel. At that time the U.S. demanded that Israel return the documents that Jonathan had provided to her. Israel agreed on the condition that the documents not be used to prosecute Jonathan. No sooner had Israel returned the documents with Jonathan's fingerprints upon them than the U.S. violated its promise not to use them against him. Israel never told Jonathan about this commitment so that he could protect himself legally, and when the U.S. violated the agreement Israel knew and never did anything about it.
Jonathan did not have a trial. On the advice of his then-attorney, he gave up his right to a trial and agreed to a plea bargain. It was expected that Jonathan's final sentence would follow judicial precedent for those who had spied for allies of the U.S. The median sentence for the crime Jonathan had committed - one count of passing classified information to an ally with no intent to harm the U.S. - is 2 to 4 years.
During Jonathan's plea hearing, which is the hearing at which the accused formally accepts his plea agreement, an official from the U.S. State department suddenly appeared, and handed out a new version of the plea agreement to all who were present. The new version had two lines striking the definition of Jonathan as an " Israeli agent" from the plea agreement wherever it appeared. The top line through the words "Israeli agent" was in blue ink and it was initialed by an Israeli official and the second line was in red ink and initialed by an American official.
Jonathan, when he was asked, refused to accept this new version of the plea agreement and refused to sign it, giving up all of the rights and protections that accrued to him by virtue of the fact that he was a bona fide Israeli agent. But, his Israeli-paid attorney began to threaten him, and told Jonathan that if he did not sign, he would quit on the spot. "If you want to go to trial, I will not defend you!" he told Jonathan. "The Government will use all the information that they obtained when they debriefed you for months on end and they will destroy you in court! No lawyer will defend you! You are a dead man!" Hibey then pointed to Anne, Jonathan's former wife who was very ill and he said, "And you see that woman?! If you do not sign, she will go back to prison, and she will die in prison. Because of you, she will die in prison!"
Jonathan had no way to withstand Hibey's browbeating and no reason to disbelieve the threats that his Israeli-paid attorney leveled against him. Under duress, Jonathan signed the new plea agreement which deprived him of his status as an Israeli agent. It was much later that Jonathan learned from new lawyers that if he had not signed the plea agreement, none of the information that the Government had obtained during his interrogation would have been admissible in court because it was obtained as part of the plea agreement.
Originally Jonathan was accused of one count of passing classified information to an ally for the benefit of that ally, with no intent to harm the U.S. As soon as Jonathan's cooperation was assured and his fate sealed by his signing of the plea agreement, the U.S. began to up the ante and to accuse him of far more serious crimes for which he was never indicted. [See: Why Jonathan Pollard Got Life-The Victim Impact Statement] The one who led the charge in this process was the former Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger.
At sentencing Weinberger provided the judge with a secret document falsely accusing Jonathan of treason and accusing him of far more serious crimes for which he had never been indicted and for which there was no evidence such as damage to U.S. National security and harm to U.S. agents. Jonathan and his attorney saw the Weinberger document moments only before he was sentenced - long enough to see the false charges in it, but not long enough to mount an effective legal challenge. From the time that he was sentenced, none of Jonathan's security-cleared attorneys have ever been allowed to access the Weinberger document again to challenge it in a court of law.
The Weinberger declaration called on the judge to impose a sentence that was commensurate with Pollard's "treason and the damage done". Weinberger's use of the term "treason", a crime that Pollard was neither accused of nor indicted for, is a far more serious crime and calls for a harsher sentence. The judge complied, and he sentenced Jonathan to life.
Various U.S. officials including Senator Charles Schumer and Congressman Anthony Weiner who have seen Jonathan's file and the secret material it contains, including the Weinberger declaration, all report that there is nothing in the file to justify the life sentence that Jonathan is serving or the harsh treatment he has been subjected to.
Jonathan's sentence is way out of line in all respects when compared with others who committed similar offenses in the U.S., and even when compared with others who have committed far more serious offenses. For the sake of comparison, there is the case of U.S. Navy Lieutenant Commander Michael Schwartz, a non-Jew, who committed the same offense of espionage as Jonathan Pollard but on behalf of a different ally, Saudi Arabia. Schwartz confessed and was indicted, but to spare the Saudis embarrassment a quick deal was worked out. As his only punishment Schwartz lost his Navy job, rank and pension; he never served a single day in prison!
As soon as Jonathan was sentenced he was taken to a prison facility for the criminally insane [he was not a patient] where he was held incommunicado. He had no contact with his attorney who did not file a notice of intent to appeal the life sentence within the required 10 day period - something that he should have done as a matter of routine. This " omission " deprived Jonathan forever of the right to appeal his life sentence.
A year later Jonathan was transferred to U.S.P. Marion, the harshest prison in the U.S. Federal system. He spent some seven years in solitary confinement at Marion. In 1991, HaRav Mordecai Eliyahu, then the Chief Rabbi of Israel, visited Jonathan in prison despite the insistence of Israeli Government that he not do so. Rabbi Shmuel Zafrani, assistant to Rabbi Eliyahu tells of the intense security at the prison and of how they had to descend three stories underground to meet with Jonathan. When they arrived, Jonathan was waiting for them with some candies on the table. Application for the visit had to be made 6 months in advance. From the time that the application was made, Jonathan began saving up the candies that he received once a month for good behavior so that he could have them to offer to these special visitors.
"When we arrived we found a strong person, with deeply-held principles; the conversation was fascinating," says Rabbi Zafrani. From that time on, HaRav Eliyahu became the Moreh Derech (spiritual mentor) for the Pollard couple. [J4JP Note: HaRav Eliyahu has visited with Jonathan Pollard numerous times since this original visit. He is in constant contact with Jonathan and Esther Pollard. [See article: Fatherly Love and Sage Guidance: HaRav Mordecai Eliyahu]
Jonathan was held K Unit at Marion - the harshest unit in the harshest prison. It was a unit that Amnesty International insisted be closed down because of inhumane conditions. When the Unit was closed down, Israel asked that Jonathan be transferred to FCI Butner where he has remained until this day. When he was transferred, the Israel Government celebrated the transfer as if it were some sort of accomplishment. Esther and Jonathan did not share their enthusiasm. They felt that the energy that Israel invested should have gone into securing Jonathan's release, not into finding a new prison for him.
Eighteen years is a long time in a person's life. How much more so when one is fighting for his freedom. This article is too short to attempt to capture all the activities, hopes and disappointments that Esther and Jonathan have lived through in the fight for his freedom. Let's skip forward a number of years to the time when Binyamin Netanyahu was Prime Minister and he participated in the Wye Summit. Israeli officials of the time recall that former President Bill Clinton used Jonathan Pollard as bait, "If you will come to a summit at Wye," Clinton promised, "freedom for Pollard is a done deal."
The officials I spoke with tell of how the last night at Wye was "Leil Shimoreem" - (J4JP: a night of "keeping watch"; a reference to Passover Seder Night)- when the negotiating teams worked out the final deals. A high ranking clerk recounts: towards dawn when a part of the Israeli delegation had already gone to sleep, Clinton took Netanyahu aside and told him he needed a word with him. The two spoke and Netanyahu's face fell. Netanyahu came back to us and said that Clinton had gone back on his promise to free Pollard. Clinton said that he could not free Jonathan because George Tenet and other senior CIA officials threatened to resign if he did. Netanyahu knew this was not true but he felt trapped. The media loved Clinton and were very hard on Netanyahu. They were already accusing him of not wanting to conclude an agreement at Wye. Netanyahu feared that if he blew the summit at Wye because of Pollard, Clinton would deny the deal and make it look like the failure at Wye was entirely Netanyahu's doing, and everyone would believe the American president. [J4JP Note: For the complete story of what really happened at Wye, see The Wye Double Cross Page. See Also: Terror in the U.S. and the Jonathan Pollard Case by Larry Dub.]
To this day, Esther and Jonathan Pollard, still regard Netanyahu as a good friend. This is the polar opposite of their opinion of the current Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, who they say has no interest or desire to ever see Jonathan free. At the start of his second term in office, during his Knesset acceptance speech, when the eyes of the world and especially the Americans were upon him, Arik Sharon made a point of emphasizing his commitment to securing the release of a Druse Israeli citizen, Azzam Azzam held by Egypt. He made no mention of Jonathan Pollard.
THEY WOULDN'T LET THE RAV GO
But the Prime Minister isn't the only one who ignores Jonathan's existence. Before the last elections, Larry Dub, Jonathan's Israeli attorney turned to all the heads of all the Israeli parties and asked them all to put Jonathan on their party list of candidates as a symbolic gesture. The only one willing to do so was M.K. Michael Kleiner. After the elections, Larry Dub again turned to all of the party heads and asked them to insist that the release of Jonathan Pollard be one of the Kavei Yesod (Basic Principles) of any new government that they would negotiate to join. None of the parties responded to this request.
President Katsav also turned his back on Jonathan. Two years ago just before Passover, Esther and Jonathan received a message from a friendly source in Washington that if an important religious figure would be sent to Washington under the official auspices of the Israeli Government to ask President Bush to grant clemency to Jonathan, the President was very open to making a holiday gesture to the Jewish State. HaRav Eliyahu, Jonathan's rabbi was more than willing to make the trip to Washington. Sharon outright refused to send him. Sharon slyly suggested that the Rav travel to Washington as part of President Katsav's official party in his upcoming trip to Washington, knowing full well that unless he got the green light from Sharon, Katsav would also refuse. Nevertheless HaRav Eliyahu immediately contacted President Katsav and asked to be included in his entourage on the trip to Washington so that he could make his appeal to the President as a member of an official Israeli delegation. Officially, Katsav never responded to the Rav's request. But one of his aides sent a message to HaRav Eliyahu saying that "only 'professionals' can be included in the President's entourage; and if HaRav Eliyahu is so influential in Washington, what does he need President Katsav for? Let him arrange his own trip."
These kinds of experiences are not unusual. Very few in the political establishment in Israel have ever been willing to help Jonathan and Esther Pollard. The Pollards can recount far "many" more examples of outright refusals than instances where there was ever any genuine willingness to help.
TO STOP HIS SUFFERING
Working pro bono, Jonathan Pollard's American attorneys, Eliot Lauer and Jacques Semmelman have filed new two legal cases in America. One case seeks to have Jonathan resentenced. Jonathan has served 18 years of a life sentence which was unjustly obtained as a result of grossly ineffective assistance of counsel. Jonathan received this sentence in violation of his constitutional rights, and in complete violation of a plea bargain which Jonathan honored and the government abrogated.
The other case which his attorneys have filed, seeks access to the classified portions of Jonathan's sentencing docket by Lauer and Semmelman who both have Top Secret Security clearances. The Government has repeatedly used these classified portions of Jonathan's file to block all attempts to secure Presidential clemency claiming "if you only knew what we know..." The Government has never allowed Jonathan's attorneys access to the file to challenge this claim. As previously mentioned, Senators Charles Schumer and Congressman Anthony Weiner who have seen the file say that there is nothing in it to justify Jonathan's harsh sentence or to deny him clemency. The fact that there is nothing in the file appears to be the reason that the Government so diligently prevents Pollard's attorneys from seeing it. As long as they do not see it, they cannot challenge it.
From the time that they struck the terminology out of Jonathan's plea bargain the Government of Israel denied that Jonathan was an Israeli agent, but in 1998 following a lawsuit in Israel Supreme Court, the Government agreed to acknowledge him once again as an Israeli agent. The fact that the Government recognizes him as an agent obliges the Government to take care of him and his wife, morally, physically and financially, and of course to seek his immediate release - all of which it has never done.
This year Jonathan will turn 49. No one can pay him back the 18 years of prolonged suffering and pain, and all of the time he has lost. But they can make sure that the clock of agony stops now, once and for all, on the number 18 - "chai"- life!
Post Script: Official Responses to The B'Sheva Special Report
Israeli rules of "fairness" in journalism require a reporter to allow the right of response to any person or official who is mentioned or quoted in an article. The responses of the various organizations I contacted for their reaction to this article speak for themselves:
THE PRIME MINISTER'S OFFICE: After several weeks of waiting for a response, I received the following message from the Prime Minister's office: "The Government of Israel has not stopped and will not stop working for the release of Jonathan Pollard."
THE PRESIDENT'S OFFICE: The Spokesperson for President Moshe Katsav knew to say that the President brings up the issue of Jonathan Pollard in his meetings with American officials in Washington. Regarding HaRav Eliyahu's Passover appeal to President Bush two years ago, the spokesperson denied that President Katsav had ever refused a request from HaRav Eliyahu.
THE SPOKESPERSON FOR THE HEAD OF THE NATIONAL RELIGIOUS PARTY, EFFIE EITAM: never responded to my question as to why Eitam failed to include Jonathan in the Basic Principles of the Government.
THE NATIONAL UNION: All of my attempts to speak with the man who was second in command to Rechavaam Ze'evi, Rabbi Beni Alon, to find out what he is doing for Jonathan now that he is head of Ze'evi's party, met with no success. Here too my requests for an interview went unanswered.
THE OFFICE OF RABBI LAU, former Chief Rabbi of Israel, conveyed that Jonathan Pollard cannot be included in public prayer for Israel's MIA's and captives (shevuyim) because he is not a "shevui" (captive). [J4JP Note: Then what is he???] Rabbi Lau's spokesperson added: "Rabbi Lau asks Esther Pollard to remember that when she set up a tent in HaMashbir Square for Jonathan, Rabbi Lau was one of the first persons to come and see her." [See J4JP Release "The Chutzpah Award Goes to Rabbi Lau" to learn what really happened at HaMashbir Square.]