Part I: Esther Pollard Updates Jonathan About Recent Events in Israel
Justice4JP Release - August 5, 2003
RE: PM Sharon and the MKs Petition; Senator Tom DeLay ; Minister Benny Alon's Statement etc.
My Beloved Yehonatan!
I have so much to tell you! But what a rush! In a few hours from now we will have our protest march and demonstration in honor of your 49th birthday!
At 5:30 PM today, August 5th, we will gather in front of the American Consulate on Agron Street. From there we will march via the PM's residence to the Knesset. We will hold a massive rally opposite the Knesset at around 7:15 PM. People who are not able to walk in the protest march will meet us for the demonstration at the Knesset. I've asked Larry to bring the Pollard / Nishmat Kol Chai prayer cards for distribution. They are quite heavy and we need at least 10,000 so he will transport them in his car. I am very excited about this!
I know that you are waiting to hear about the honorary citizenship ceremony in Gush Katif last night. It was amazing! But first let's get all the political stuff and nonsense out of the way. On the phone I've only been able to give you the shorthand version of events. Now let me flesh out some of the details.
First of all, the petition signed by 112 MKs including, PM Sharon himself. What a story! Let me tell it to you the way Mickey Eitan told it to the Knesset Lobby just before it broke in the media.
Just as he did more than a year ago when he put together an historic petition signed by 110 MKs calling on President Bush to release you, Mickey again undertook to sign up the MKs in a new petition for Sharon to give to the President. On Thursday, 3 days before Sharon's departure to the States, Mickey received several urgent calls from the Prime Minister's office insisting that he get the petition to them so that Sharon could sign it. Mickey replied that he still needed to get Silvan Shalom's signature and that Shalom was not taking his calls. The PM's people told him, "Never mind! We'll get Shalom's signature!" Just get the petition over here!" So he did. (Which reminds me, I have a doozy of a story to tell you about Silvan Shalom... I will get to it as well.)
Hours later, Mickey received a phone call from Dov Weissglass, Sharon's chief of staff. Weissglass cheerily informed him that both Shalom and the Prime Minister had signed the petition to Bush, and that it was all set to go, and would he please come and get it. Here is approximately how the conversation went.
EITAN: It's all done? 112 MKS! And the Prime Minister too! Wonderful!
WEISSGLASS: Now come and get it!
WEISSGLASS: Come and get the petition!
EITAN: But why?!! You have the original copy! It is supposed to go WITH the Prime Minister to his meeting with Bush. Why do you want me to come and get it?!
WEISSGLASS: Arik is NOT taking the petition with him. You wanted him to sign, he signed. Now it's your baby. YOU give it to Bush!
EITAN: How will I do that???
WEISSGLASS: That is your problem!
So Mickey retrieved the petition and remained in a quandary about what to do with it. In the meantime, to appease public opinion, the Prime Minister's office leaked word of the petition to the media as if he were actually planning on taking it to America. That's why we started to see all these bogus stories about how Sharon was planning to push for your release when he meets with Bush. I am enclosing one of the more interesting ones, from the New York Sun for you. It is titled: "Sharon To Ask for Israeli Prisoner Release" Note that the source of disinformation in the article is "a senior official traveling with Mr. Sharon."
Did Mickey go to the media to expose what Sharon had done, signing the petition and then throwing it away? No. Chas vih Chaleelah! What, embarrass the Prime Minister?! Perish the thought!
Instead he cast about for a new solution. The next day, Friday, Mickey bumped into his good buddy Ruby Rivlin, who informed him that he would be having a private lunch with visiting Senator Tom DeLay, and why don't you drop by? So, petition in hand, Mickey went to meet Tom DeLay. DeLay was cordial. He listened politely while Mickey explained that this petition for your release is historically unprecedented, signed by 112 Knesset members. That it includes the signature of every single member of every single Jewish faction, including Arabs and Druse; and also includes the signature of the Prime Minister himself. DeLay received the petition without comment and promised to deliver it to President Bush.
It was several hours later that Mickey heard news reports of an interview with Tom DeLay where DeLay was asked about you, and he revealed not only how much he does not know about the case, but how hostile he is to your release based on all the old lies about you. That was when Mickey realized that maybe Tom Delay was not the right person to give the petition to Bush...
At the Knesset Lobby where Mickey recounted this story, lobby members asked Mickey if he would share this story with the media. No, he said. He preferred to wait until Arik returns from the US to speak with him privately and find out why he sidelined the Pollard issue.
MK Uri Ariel was at the lobby meeting. He did not agree with allowing Sharon to get away with this despicable ploy to appease public opinion, so he went to the press. He did not go into details but just let it be known how Sharon signed the MKs petition so no one could accuse him of not caring for you, and then refused to take the petition to Bush, to ensure that your case never be brought up or mentioned in the US.
Once the story broke there was no stopping it. Reporters flooded the PM's office with phone calls asking for an explanation. It was pretty clear to all that Sharon's actions sent a very clear message to the President about how important or unimportant your release is to Israel.
The responses from the Prime Minister's office about why he had sidelined the Pollard issue and refused to take the MKs petition to Washington were morally depraved and utterly transparent. Things like, the Prime Minister wanted to focus on "more important matters", such as the security fence and the release of Palestinian prisoners'; and he didn't want to "hurt" his meeting with Bush.'
Our response remains, " We are shocked but not surprised. Mr. Sharon's actions are consistent with his attitude towards Jonathan from the time that he first took office. He has Jonathan's blood on his hands."
About Tom DeLay. Two things you should know. First of all I spoke with Eliot (Lauer) about this. DeLay's hostile comments in the Israeli media presented Eliot with the opening to approach DeLay and introduce himself as your attorney. DeLay has agreed to have Eliot send your legal material to his legal counsel and to look into the matter. Eliot has assured him that if he does, he will be stunned by the injustice that has taken place in this case. Eliot offered to meet with him and brief him once his counsel has reviewed the material. G-d willing, this may yet turn around and prove to be fortuitous. If DeLay opens himself up to learn the truth about the Pollard case, then it may be an important breakthrough.
What troubles me, as I mentioned to you on the phone, is how and why Delay has been able to remain unaware of the facts of this case when he is so close and so involved with so many Israeli Ministers. For example, as you pointed out, DeLay is very close with Minister Benny Elon.
Elon made the following statement about you today in a media release:
FROM THE DESK OF SAGIV ROTHENBERG, SPOKESMAN FOR MINISTER ELON
MINISTER BENNY ELON ISSUES STATEMENT ON JONATHAN POLLARD
-- Challenges Prime Minister Sharon To Push For Pollard's Release-- Monday, August 04, 2003
"During yesterday's Cabinet meeting with Prime Minister Sharon, I passionately and vigorously raised the issue of Jonathan Pollard, who must be freed. While the United States pressures us to release Palestinian prisoners, it is imperative that Prime Minister Sharon makes our feelings
about the importance of Jonathan Pollard very clear - He must go free."
"While we as Israelis have continually raised our voices on behalf of Jonathan Pollard, it is high time that we take our protests from quiet to noisy and immediately raise our voices loudly on behalf of our soldier. He committed a crime, which we as the government are responsible for and we must take responsibility."
"The United States, of course are our closest allies, and the true test of friendship is one of compassion and forgiveness. - We call on the United States to immediately free Jonathan Pollard. We plan on making a lot of noise on this issue in the days to come, as I informed Prime Minister Sharon yesterday."
For contact in the United States, please call Ronn Torossian at 212-999-5585.
Jonathan, it is obvious that for all his support for you, Elon never mentioned you to DeLay or DeLay would never have spoken about you with such hostility. I have asked various people who are in contact with Elon's office to find out what he intends to do about DeLay. If Elon is serious, then surely he knows that making an impassioned plea to Sharon is not enough. He also has to reach out to his good friend Tom Delay and win him over to the truth so that he will support your release. It is mind-boggling that Elon has had such access to the 3rd most powerful man in the United States for such a long time, without ever bringing up the issue of your release. It tracks with the meetings we have had with Congressmen and Senators who tell us that Israeli officials NEVER mention the Pollard case when they are in the U.S.
I am going to take a quick break from writing to prepare some things for the protest march this afternoon. I will continue with the Silvan Shalom story when I get back. When I heard it last night it reminded me of a quote from an article by the Israeli playwright Motti Lerner [Pollard Was An Israeli Agent] Writing about Israeli politicians, Lerner wrote: "Lying has become a political means, used at the drop of a hat, without the slightest twinge of conscience."
Now you know what the Silvan Shalom story is about. A big fat lie.
Yes I know you are still waiting to hear about the exciting and deeply touching ceremony in Gush Katif last night and I promise I will get to it. Remember, acharon acharon, chaviv - which means leaving the best for last - and the event last night was certainly the best! Got to run now!
All my love,