Israel's Channel 10 television news contacted Esther and Jonathan Pollard in North Carolina for Jonathan's reaction to the proposed prisoner exchange with Hizbollah.
The deal, which is in its final stages, postulates Israel's freeing of more than 400 terrorists, including Sheik Obeid and Mustapha Dirani. Dirani is the captor and tormentor of Israeli pilot Ron Arad, who has been MIA for the last 17 years. In return, Israel is to receive one Israeli businessman and the corpses of 3 Israeli soldiers.
Channel 10: We have just read the J4JP release "Pollard's Nightmare". We would like to ask, what do you think about the prisoner exchange with Hizbullah?
Jonthan Pollard: The wholesale release of murderers and terrorists by the Government of Israel, claiming it is acting on the holy mitzvah pidyan shvuyim, is disgraceful. It is not pidyan shvuyim! Freeing murderers and terrorists en masse is not the mitzvah of pidyan shvuyim; it is an obscenity, an abomination!
Channel 10: Are you angry that your release is not included in this deal?
Jonthan Pollard: Not at all. My release does not have to be purchased again. Israel has paid for it several times over, the last time was at Wye. It is time for America to make good on its commitment to release me, and time for Israel to show a little backbone and collect on that commitment.
Channel 10: Why are you so opposed to the deal?
Jonthan Pollard: Freedom without honor is not freedom. I am disgusted by a Government that proposes to purchase freedom for one man and 3 corpses at cost so exorbitant that it puts the nation and virtually every Israeli citizen in jeopardy. More to the point, how can Sharon even consider the deal knowing that it is a death sentence for Ron Arad?!
Channel 10: Do you really believe that it is a death sentence for Ron Arad?
Jonthan Pollard: I pray from the depths of my soul that it is not, but this deal sends a very clear message to Ron's captors that he is fair game now that Israel has given up Dirani and all of the chips it once held to secure his release. Another thing: no one knows how much information Ron has access to. If he is told about this deal or he discovers it through whatever channels of information he may have, just the knowledge that Israel is betraying him this way is enough to kill him.
Channel 10: In your opinion what would be an "honorable" deal?
Jonthan Pollard: First of all, without Ron Arad and all of the MIAs and captives, no deal whatsoever. Period.
Next, a sense of ratio and proportion has to be re-established in our negotiations. That means one for one. One live businessman for one live prisoner. One dead body for one dead body.
Offering 400 for 1 is not an indication of how much we value a single life. It is an indication of weakness and stupidity. The message is not lost on our enemies who exploit Israel's demonstrated weakness over and over again to our detriment.
Channel 10: What about the cabinet's decision to back Sharon on the deal?
Jonthan Pollard: The result was predictable; we have seen it too many times before to be fooled by it. The ministers arranged themselves so as to assure that the prisoner release would pass the cabinet, but not by much. That way the various parties could still save political face, while at the same time assuring Sharon a tactical victory. The vote passed by a margin of one: 12 for and 11 against.
For days before the cabinet voted, the ministers danced around the issue in the media, wringing their hands over what a "moral dilemma" this prisoner exchange poses, and how difficult it will be to vote on it.
What nonsense! Calling it a moral dilemma does not make it one. The facts were always clear: a deal that frees terrorists and murderers en masse; that endangers the whole country; that condemns Ron Arad to death and betrays all of the MIAs and captives; is not a deal to even consider. It is tantamount to a proposal to save a child by sacrificing an entire family, and endangering all of their relatives at the same time. It is not pidyan shvuyim; it is not a mitzvah and it is not morally or ethically sound, much less sane.
The only moral dilemma facing the cabinet ministers is how they can participate in a Government that would even consider such a shameful, dishonorable, morally-debased deal to begin with.