Excerpt Knesset Record: MK Ophir Pines: US Vindictive In The Extreme to Jonathan

J4JP Release - December 3, 2003
From the Knesset Record of the Plenary Session for Monday, November 24, 2003

Excerpt of Discussion on Jonathan Pollard
Speaker: MK Ophir Pines
Translated by J4JP

Chairman Nissan Dean:

We are continuing with proposals for discussion numbers 1620, 1643 and 1665 submitted by Makes Ophir Pines, Mickey Eitan, and Shaul Yahalom on the subject of the decision of a federal Court in Washington on the issue of Jonathan Pollard. The first speaker is Ophir Pines. Minister Gidon Ezra will respond (for the Government). Three minutes.

Ophir Pines:

Mr. Chairman, first of all, I am pleased that Minister Gidon Ezra will be answering on behalf of the Government for he has indeed been involved in and perhaps even now continues to be involved in matters pertaining to the release of Jonathan Pollard from prison in America.

[J4JP Note:

Superficially, Ophir Pines' comment about Minister Gidon Ezra above seems sincere, but in fact, it is quite sarcastic. Ezra is the former deputy head of Israel's secret services(GSS). For years Ezra has been a "member" of the Knesset Lobby for Jonathan Pollard. His "participation" in the Lobby has only been as a Government watchdog. He monitors the Lobby to ensure that its efforts remain token and ineffective. Apart from the Lobby, Ezra also monitors popular public activities and advocacy for Jonathan Pollard for the same purpose - to diffuse it.]

Ophir Pines:

I am sorry that we have to be here this evening to speak about the decision of the American court which means that Jonathan's appeal has been dismissed in every respect. He cannot see the secret documents; he cannot have his day in court; he cannot go for resentencing; nothing at all!

We are not overly surprised. The US attitude towards Jonathan Pollard is vindictive in the extreme, very stubborn, very harsh and very inflexible, and the way I see it, very cruel. In the end, Jonathan Pollard has been languishing in an American prison for 18 years. The man is condemned to serve a life sentence on a single charge of espionage [with no intent to harm the US] while at the same time, the spies who really spied against the United States and handed over damaging and extremely sensitive classified information to enemy states have long, long since ceased to serve time in American prison.

The United States has taken a reckoning with Jonathan Pollard, and through him with all of us, because Jonathan provided the State of Israel with vital security information - information, which as far as we know, did not do any damage to American security, and that is the important point. But America the Great was insulted, and I can understand that, but what is the price of the insult, a life sentence?

And by the way, when Jonathan was held in Washington recently, when they took him for his court appearance, he was held in harsh and inhumane conditions. I received letters documenting the harsh treatment he endured. He was cut off from all contact with his wife and friends on the outside; he was held in what I regard as inhumane conditions, not humanitarian, and treated very harshly, and why? For what reason? The man is serving his time, at least let him appeal his American sentence; where it is possible to appeal, at least let him have his day in court!

The State of Israel has to step forward and engage [on behalf of Pollard], I say, especially the Government of Israel - past Governments have failed to engage on this matter. I believe that Ariel Sharon now has the opportunity to something, something truly great. Out of all of the Prime Ministers of Israel, the only Prime Minister until now - I must admit - who ever really put Jonathan properly on the agenda for negotiation was Binyamin Netanyahu. As for all the rest, to the best of my knowledge, if they did anything at all for Jonathan, it was too little, too late, in an unconvincing way and without conviction.

I want to express hope. First of all, I want this Knesset to boost Jonathan's morale - to strengthen his morale - the man, of course, cannot be in a good way now - and by the way, his health is very poor as well, he has serious health problems - [I want this Knesset] to appeal to the Government of United States and to ask it to spare the life of Jonathan Pollard, to pardon him on a humanitarian basis and to send him here, so that he can come home and make aliyah to Israel. Jonathan may have committed a sin, perhaps a terrible sin, but he has paid a terrible price and he is still paying.

I sincerely hope that the gates of mercy and human decency in the United States may open for Jonathan Pollard and that the appeal and outcry of this Knesset will be heard in the right places. Thank you Mr. Chairman.

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