About Jonathan Pollard's Shavui Status:
Israel's Ambassador to the United States Visits with Pollard
T. Silber - Hamodia [Weekend Edition, front page] - May 18, 2005
Justice4JP Prefacing Note: Special notes are included in the text below to clarify the issue of Jonathan Pollard's shavui (captivity) status.
Israel's Ambassador to the United States, Danny Ayalon, met Jonathan Pollard in his cell in a North Carolina prison, for the first time yesterday. It was the first official visit by a high level Israeli government representative since Pollard's incarceration in 1986 [J4JP: 1985.] Knesset members and various Israeli ministers have met with Pollard during his imprisonment, but those were private visits.
Before Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon traveled to Texas in April to meet with President Bush, Pollard's Israeli supporters mounted a monumental media campaign demanding, "Don't come home without Jonathan." It is widely believed that it was Dr. Rice who was actually approached to arrange yesterday's visit.
Earlier yesterday Ambassador Ayalon partook of a breakfast hosted by Mrs. Pollard in her very modest accommodations. In the afternoon, he visited with Pollard for 2 hours.
Present were Pollard, his wife, a close friend Rabbi Pesach Lerner, executive vice president of Young Israel, the Deputy Israeli Consul General from Atlanta, Mr. Aviv Ezra, Ambassador Ayalon and his bodyguard. Although the press was barred [J4JP: by order of PM Ariel Sharon], a representative of the US Navy was also there.
Pollard greeted the Ambassador with, "I have been waiting a long time for a person in your position to visit me."
The ambassador responded that he had come as a representative of the Israeli prime minister to assure Mr. Pollard that the Israel was doing everything to get him released. He expressed a message of support and encouragement and said he hoped that Jonathan understood that they were dealing with a sensitive issue fraught with difficulties.
Pollard made a forceful request that he be granted shavui [prisoner] status by the Israeli government, which would confer upon him and his wife vital benefits. [J4JP clarification: By virtue of the fact that Jonathan is officially recognized as an Israeli agent, he automatically has the status of a shavui (a captive), but the government of Israel has consistently refused to implement his shavui status or to act upon it. What Pollard requested of the ambassador is that Israel implement his shavui status. Implementation of shavui status with all the rights it bestows upon the captive and his family, and all the obligations that devolve upon the government is always automatic for an agent in captivity. Only in the case of Jonathan Pollard, has the government deliberately refused to activate his shavui status, which permits them to continue to duck all responsibility for him.]
Pollard pointed out that when Mr. Sharon was determined to bring about the release of Elchanon Tennenbaum and Azzam Azzam, who had been given shavui status, he made it happen. [J4JP: the point is that neither Tennebaum nor Azzam Azzam qualified for official shavui status, since they were not taken into captivity while in active service of the state. Nevertheless, PM Sharon in his determination to rescue them, granted them shavui status with full benefits and acted upon it - something which has never been done for Pollard, who unlike Tennenbaum and Azzam, is a fully qualified shavui!]
Although the ambassador was focused as he listed to Pollard's in depth review of his entire history - including the instances when both the US and Israeli governments, and their representatives, reneged on agreements - and his plea for shavui status, Ayalon looked uncomfortable. Rabbi Lerner, in an interview with Hamodia, noted that Ayalon is a compassionate person who would certainly like to help. "If he had the authority he could be delivering more than a message of support," Rabbi Lerner said.
Toward the end of the meeting, Pollard stated, "If the government of Israel isn't willing to get me home based on the truth, then the people of Israel have the right to know the true state of affairs between our two countries. If the relationship is as good as everyone says it is, it should be a simple matter to secure my release. If not, the people should know."
Ayalon responded that Israel is concerned, that it is sorry, that it is really trying and will continue to do whatever it can, adding that the friendship between America and Israel is strong.
Pollard thanked the ambassador for coming despite his disappointment that this meeting offered little in terms of content or initiative, and that in essence Ayalon's visit was an empty gesture. He asked Ayalon to come again and to take care of his wife, who is a cancer patient.
Pollard, a former U.S. navy intelligence analyst, was given a life sentence 19 years ago [J4JP: 20 years ago] for passing classified information to Israel. As a result of previous legal action in Israel, Pollard was given Israeli citizenship in 1996 [J4JP: 1995] and later officially recognized as an Israeli agent.
Last week Pollard petitioned the Israeli High Court of Justice demanding that he be recognized as a Prisoner of Zion, a move aimed at putting more pressure on the government to secure his release. Although the ministry's Prisoner of Zion Authority last year rejected a petition on Pollard's behalf as his case did not fit the criteria in the law, the move evidently had an effect, evidenced a day later when Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom announced that Israel had decided to take 'concrete' steps towards Pollard's release.
"In principle, our opinion is that 20 years is a long period, perhaps too long, and the time has come for him to be released and come to Israel as a new immigrant," Shalom said.
A source in Sharon's office said, "We believe and hope there will be progress in the matter of Pollard during the summer." Political analysts say that obtaining Pollard's release could take the edge off widespread opposition to Sharon's disengagement plan.
In an interview with Globes last week, Ayalon said, "The U.S. has no intention of releasing Jonathan Pollard. Israel is constantly working to free him, but no desire or intent to respond is evident on this issue. For that reason, it was decided to cheer up Pollard with this first-ever prison visit from an Israeli ambassador." [J4JP: See Editorial: Pollard Deserves Better]
At the conclusion of Ambassador Ayalon's meeting with Pollard, the prisoner asked Rabbi Lerner to procure for him a set of Rabbi Eliyahu Kitov's "Book of Our Heritage" that he will use to teach a young fellow prisoner about Yiddishkeit.
"That request says a lot about Jonathan," said Rabbi Lerner. "He is not bitter, and he is obviously focused on helping others."