Esther Pollard: Refusal of Prisoner of Zion Status "Petty and Mean-spirited"
Esther Pollard Responds - Justice4JP Release - January 7, 2005
The refusal of the State of Israel to recognize Jonathan as a Prisoner of Zion can only be seen as consistent with the Government of Israel's attitude towards Jonathan Pollard for the last 2 decades. It is petty and mean-spirited. Moreover, the excuses offered for rejecting recognition of Jonathan as a prisoner of Zion are spurious, hypocritical and ill-conceived.
Firstly, in its refusal the Ministry cited 2 legal preconditions: 1) the requirement to be a citizen; and 2) the requirement to be a resident of Israel. The Government admitted in its decision that Jonathan is a citizen of the State, but then disqualified him because he is not currently residing in Israel!
This is laughable. Jonathan challenged the State of Israel in Supreme Court on this very issue when he originally sought citizenship. As a result of his lawsuit, the State was forced to overrule itself; it dropped the requirement for residency and granted Jonathan citizenship. In other words, the State of Israel established the precedent that residency is no obstacle to citizenship. How can it now claim that it is an obstacle to a symbolic recognition of its citizen?!
Another claim that the State made to reject Jonathan's Prisoner of Zion status is self- incriminating. The decision stated that because of the State's own mistreatment of Jonathan, he may understandably be bitter towards the State and may therefore not wish return to live in Israel when he is free, and concluded that therefore he is not eligible to deemed a Prisoner of Zion. One cannot help but note the hypocrisy: the State admits its own culpability in the mishandling and mistreatment of Jonathan Pollard, and then proceeds to use that as the basis for refusing to recognize his Prisoner of Zion status! This excuse is ridiculous. It also flies in the face of the numerous documents, letters and public statements that Jonathan Pollard has made in which he repeatedly states unequivocally over and over and over again: "All I want is to come home to Israel to live with my wife and be a productive citizen of the State."
Perhaps the most egregious claim the State makes in rejecting Jonathan's application for Prisoner of Zion status, is the doubt that his service to Israel (for which he has served twenty years in prison and still counting) can be deemed "Zionist activity on behalf of the State." Do their ears hear what their mouths are saying?! In 1998 The State of Israel recognized Jonathan's activities on behalf of the State of Israel and granted him official recognition as an agent! Is the State of Israel so craven, so cowardly, that it cannot bring itself to stand behind its own public admission that Jonathan provided a vital service to Israel as a bona fide Israeli agent?
The States' refusal to grant Jonathan this simple recognition is a badge of shame for the Nation. All the more so, in light of the fact that years ago, the original Prisoners of Zion Organization (before it was taken over by the Israeli Government) designated Jonathan as a Prisoner of Zion. In fact it was on the basis of his original membership in the Prisoners of Zion Organization that Jonathan recently requested official recognition by the State of Israel.
When I broke the news to Jonathan that Israel has refused his request to grant him Prisoner of Zion Status. Jonathan immediately responded, "Baruch HaShem! We can be happy about this!" "Why?" I asked. He replied, "Because the State of Israel has been absolutely consistent. Unlike the People of Israel who have always kept faith with me, for 20 years the State of Israel has never given me a single reason to be grateful. I had to sue for citizenship, and I won. I had to sue for recognition as an agent, and I won. I have no doubt that we will win this next round in court as well. This was the State's opportunity to finally do the right thing, just a symbolic gesture, without having to be sued, and even this small gesture of kindness and consideration was beyond them." Jonathan will be consulting with his attorneys in Israel this week.
It should be noted that the State has not only ignored the will of the original members of the Organization in refusing Jonathan, but also the numerous letters of support have been written for Jonathan by former prisoners of Zion, and by the various prisoner organizations. The most recent letter of support was submitted to the review committee which refused Jonathan's request for Prisoner of Zion status. It was signed by an illustrious list of former prisoners including:
Assirei Machteret (Former Prisoners of the Underground Organizations)
Signing on behalf of their respective groups or organizations:
- Tuvia Chen Tzion - Head of the Lechi Fighters Group (Amutah)
- Avraham Ben-Har - Representative of Lechi Fighters Condemned to Death
- Yitzchak Even-Zohar - Representative of Escapees Who Tunneled out of Latrun
- Pinchas Ginosar - Representative Prisoners Exiled to Kenya
- Yehudit Ginosar - Beit Lechem Prisoner
- Ezriel Livnat - Acco Prisoner; Exiled to Erithria
- Geula Cohen - Beit Lechem Prisoner
- Baruch Guttmacher - Representative of the Prisoners of Zion of the Etzel Group
Piduay Shevi (Redeemed Hostages/ P.O.WS)
- Margalit Cohen - Egypt 1973
- Chezi Shai - Lebanon 1982
- David Avudraham - Egypt 1973
- Oded Zamir -Egypt 1973
- Yaacov Gur - Egypt 1973
- Uri Aharonfeld - Egypt 1973
- Sami Ben Abu - Egypt 1973
- Beni Finestein - Egypt 1973
- Dudi Biton - Egypt 1973
- Rafi Eldan - Egypt 1973
- Charley Ben Kassom - Egypt 1973
- Yisasschar Ben Daniel - Egypt 1973
- Yaacov Bronfeld - Egypt 1973
- Ovadia Gavriel - Egypt 1973
- Ido Goldhecht - Egypt 1973
- Dani Gilboa - Lebanon 1982
- Arik Ginosar - Egypt 1973
- Fezi Hirshtock - Egypt 1973
- Yosef Weiss - Egypt 1973
- David Ziv - Egypt 1948
- Yitzchak Carmel - Egypt 1973
Assirei Tzion (Prisoners of Zion)
- Yosef Mendelevitch - Jerusalem
- Shlomo Dreizner - Jerusalem
- Yaacov Suslenski - Jerusalem
- David Maayan - Moshav Arugot
- Ezriel Kochubievski - Rechovot
Organizations and Groups
- Amutah Assirei Lechi [The Lechi Fighters Organization] - representing 158
- Amutah Arim B'Layla - representing 250 members of the Israel Defense Forces,
former Prisoners of War