Jonathan Pollard On Securing His Release in Exchange for Terrorists

Justice4JP Release - February 19, 2005

(Excerpted from Jonathan Pollard's 20th Year Anniversary of Incarceration Speech - November 21, 2004

Let me state from the outset that I have always been opposed to gaining my freedom in exchange for the release of murderers and terrorists. My position has not changed. I deserve to be released because my sentence is unjust and because the U.S. has promised my release on more than one occasion, including a commitment by the President of the United States at the Wye Summit in 1998.

Someone who fundamentally agrees that I should be released because my sentence is unjust, and not in return for unilateral concessions by Israel, is the former US Special Envoy to the Middle East, Dennis Ross.

In his new book, "The Missing Peace" (Farrar Straus Giroux, N.Y., 2004) Ross writes that at Wye the President asked him if freeing me would be important to Israel. "Yes," [Ross replied] "because he is considered a soldier for Israel and there is an ethos in Israel that you never leave a soldier behind in the field." (page 438)

In a footnote on the same page Ross added: "I also said I was in favor of [Pollard's] release, believing that he had received a harsher sentence than others who had committed comparable crimes. I preferred not tying his release to any agreement..."

No sooner does Ross acknowledge the injustice of my sentence and that I deserve to be freed unconditionally, than he advises the President NOT to free me! Why? Because of my great value as a political asset and a bargaining chip.

Ross writes that he cautioned the President against releasing me until greater concessions from Israel could be secured during final status talks. Referring to me as "it", he told the President: "It would be a huge payoff [for Israel]; you don't have many like it in your pocket...You will need it later, don't use it now." (page 439)

By understanding Ross' attitude towards me as an asset, not a person, it becomes possible for the first time to understand Prime Minister Sharon's indifference towards me. Sharon has deliberately, calculatedly ignored every opportunity to secure my release ever since he took office. Why? Because he too sees me as a political asset, and not as a human being. Sharon is apparently reserving me for a time that my release will be the fig leaf for some very, very dastardly initiative. Perhaps something as dastardly as enabling [Marwan Bargouti] another mass murderer of Jews to become prime minister of the P.A. just as Israel once did for the arch murderer, Yassir Arafat.

In the meantime, the Government of Israel recognizes that the Americans regard me as a very valuable bargaining chip. But instead of pressing for my release, Israel has learned how to exploit the bargaining chip without ever having to pay the price. Israel has learned how to manipulate my name and my fate in the media in order to sell the Israeli public on its morally repugnant actions.

Over the years, when it was calling for relinquishing the Golan Heights; when it was determined to divide Jerusalem; when it abandoned Hebron; when it wanted to renounce the Temple Mount - and so on- the Government publicly raised the hope that I would be released as a reward for making these terrible concessions. Each time the Nation comforted itself, thinking, well at least we will get Pollard... But it was a lie.

Even at Wye, the bid for my release was simply to be the fig leaf to sell a bad deal to the Israeli public. As Dennis Ross puts it (page 455): "[The Prime Minister] said he couldn't do the deal without it. He said that he'd made concessions on the prisoners based on the assumption that he would have Pollard and on that basis he could sell the prisoners [release], indeed, could sell the whole deal". But like anything expendable, I was dropped from the agenda when the Americans reneged on their commitment to free me. And Israel released the Arab murderers and terrorists all the same.

More recently, when debate was raging in the media about the morality of swapping terrorist chiefs Obeid and Durani, plus hundreds of terrorists, for 3 dead Israelis and one live Israeli, Tanenbaum, my name was linked to the deal to soften the blow. As soon as the Israeli public got used to the idea of this obscene deal, my name was dropped and the deal was done. There was never any intention of including me in the deal, only of raising the Nation's expectation that I would be.

Now, apparently, Israel is planning to do the same thing in order to justify releasing Marwan Barghouti, the multiple murderer of Jews. But this time, the stakes are higher. And this time, Israel might actually be forced to follow through

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