"...if you only feared G-d half as much as you fear the enemies of Israel, you would find the courage and the determination to do that which is right and that which is needed without hesitation. Only one who has no fear of G-d, and no sense of Jewish history or Jewish destiny could so thoroughly ignore the moral imperatives that are the foundation of our faith and the bedrock of our nation."
The full text of Jonathan's 49th birthday letter follows below:
August 7, 2003
Butner, North Carolina
Dear Prime Minister Sharon,
Today is my 49th birthday. In honor of the occasion, I am writing to share my thanks, my blessings and a piece of hard-earned wisdom which the last 18 years in prison have taught me.
First of all, my thanks. This may surprise you, but I am grateful to you.
Allow me to explain by citing several of your recent initiatives as examples:
When you refused to deliver the petition to President Bush the message to the Administration was perfectly clear: your signature on the petition was for domestic public consumption only - not because of any interest in seeing me released.
In light of all of the above and much more, Mr. Prime Minister, allow me to express my gratitude. I am grateful that you have never feigned interest in my plight nor any concern for my survival. I am grateful that unlike previous Prime Ministers of Israel you do not bother to go through the motions, claiming to care so deeply about me while undermining my release behind-the-scenes. I appreciate that you have been utterly shameless about your indifference to my fate, even though you risk public disapproval, since I am a bona fide Israeli agent who certainly deserves better than this.
My wife, my attorney and my rabbi met with you two years ago and told you that if you did not act expeditiously to save me, they feared I would die in prison. You did not flinch and you did not react. In fact, you did not respond at all to their distress. You have been perfectly consistent since then, dismissing every opportunity that arises that might provide some measure of relief for me.
Thank you, Prime Minister Sharon, for your consistency. Thank you for being so blatantly obvious about your intention to have me die in prison before you do anything to assist me. To borrow an oft-cited phrase about you from the media, I wonder if your involvement in my operation "inconveniences your relationship with the U.S." and causes you to behave so shabbily towards me, an Israeli agent. All the same, I am grateful that I no longer have to do anything at all to convince the Israeli people that you are not acting in good faith.
I am sincere in my thanks. Your callousness gives me added strength and determination to survive - even as ill as I am, as worn out as I am, and as disgusted as I am. If it takes every ounce of strength in every fiber of my being, I will survive! With the help of G-d, I will live to see you reap the reward that you deserve for what you have bequeathed to me and to the people of Israel.
That is why, Mr. Prime Minister, today on my 49th birthday in prison, I bless you. May you live a long life! May you live to see me returned home in spite of all odds. G-d willing, I promise to bless you again upon my homecoming. I will look in your eyes; I will shake your hand. You will see your whole life reflected in my eyes. It is a moment I look forward to.
Until then, Mr. Prime Minister, I would like to share with you the most important thing that I have learned after 18 years in prison, much of it in solitary confinement and in some of the harshest conditions imaginable. Mr. Sharon, mark my words: if you only feared G-d half as much as you fear the enemies of Israel, you would find the courage and the determination to do that which is right and that which is needed without hesitation. Only one who has no fear of G-d, and no sense of Jewish history or Jewish destiny could so thoroughly ignore the moral imperatives that are the foundation of our faith and the bedrock of our nation.
Recent events in Israel demonstrate that you have an uncanny ability to tolerate the agony of our people at this excruciating time in our history. Be aware that this ability to block out their cries and ignore their suffering is no more than an extension of your ability to tolerate the agony of one Israeli agent. After all, 5 million is just 5 million multiplied by one.
Until you master your fear and learn to trust in the Creator of Heaven and Earth, your fear of man and your lack of resolve not only hurts me, but also threatens to bring the Nation of Israel to the brink of disaster.
I close with my birthday blessings to you and to the people of Israel. Am Yisrael Chai!
On August 7, 2003, Jonathan marked his 49th birthday in prison, with no end in sight. To commemorate the event, Jonathan updated the open letter which he wrote to Prime Minister Sharon on his birthday 2 years ago. All he changed was the number of years he has been in prison and he updated the Prime Ministers' "current initiatives". Otherwise, the letter remains as compelling and as relevant today as when he first wrote it.