Boaz Gaon - Maariv - June 24, 2005
Translated from Hebrew by Justice4JP
NORTH CAROLINA - June 24, 2005
For a split second in mid-April it seemed as if the chances of Jonathan Pollard shedding the chains he has been dragging clattering across the cold floors since 1985 - ever since he was forcefully evicted from the Israeli embassy in Washington - had suddenly increased. This occurred when Sharon, his face still tanned from the Texas sun, removed his stubborn beige flak jacket (which he wore while building the settlements and which he now wears to dismantle them) and boldly announced that he had instructed Israel's Ambassador to the US, Danny Ayalon, to pack a little bag and go visit Pollard. All this, before Bush even ordered Israel to turn off the water.
The historic visit of the ambassador to Pollard took place last month. "An honest man sent to do a dishonest job", said Pollard, who involuntarily got woven into the crossfire of an image war between public personalities (Ayalon and FM Shalom) which was raging above his head.
Ayalon, it seems, was sent out as a trial balloon to gauge the reaction of the corps of Pollard activists to rumors of Pollard's release as the prize for the Gaza disengagement. This, incidentally, is the same corps of activists most opposed to the disengagement plan.
The idea, the inflated news headlines cooked up by the electronic media almost instantly about a 'deal' between Bush (who would pay Sharon with Pollard) and Sharon (who would pay with Gaza) disappeared almost as quickly as the overblown trial balloon which flew off into the clouds and disappeared.
It ended badly. At the visit, Pollard reports, Ayalon was embarrassed and kept repeating over and over again a prepared statement, devoid of content, which had been scripted for him in advance. Pollard said that the Ambassador could not look him in the eyes. His justified request that his status as a "shevui" (prisoner) be implemented by the State which has recognized him as an agent, received the insulting response, "Israel wishes you well."
The cries of disappointment from the visit room overflowed to the media waiting outside, and caused Ayalon to flee from the CNN reporter (the only English language reporter in the pack) who was left scratching his head in surprise over the Ambassador's refusal to share with America the details of this supposedly historic visit. (By the way: media was barred from actual attendance at the prison meeting, not by order of the prison, but by order of PM Sharon's office.)
From an observer's point of view, it seemed as if Ayalon wanted to hurry back to the shelter of the Israeli Embassy in Washington. The same Embassy which, on direct orders from Jerusalem, threw Jonathan Pollard out exactly 20 years ago. One supposes that upon reaching the Embassy, Ayalon called Sharon and reported, 'Mission accomplished'.
FLUSHING AN AGENT DOWN THE DRAIN
A month later Jonathan Pollard sat in the same visit room, across from the same vending machines, his wife Esther by his side, and under the same watchful eyes of the NSA monitor ("Nick") who had come from Washington that morning.
This was not Pollard's first interview, nor his second or third since his arrest, but this was perhaps the harshest, most bridge-burning interview Pollard has ever given. Yes of course, it concerns one who once supported his release and who now, in Pollard's opinion, " has no interest in bringing me home alive."
We are talking about Arik the "dictator" Sharon, the boss of Dubi "Rasputin" Weissglass, the initiators of the "diabolical" disengagement plan, the heads of the " American colony" and of the "perverted version of Disneyland" otherwise known as the Israeli political establishment, which has "no red lines" and "no true North"; where everything goes, even the abandonment of an agent and "flushing him down the drain."
"I want to begin," says Pollard, smoothing out the printed sheet in front of him "with a question to set the tone and the framework for everything I will say today." And the question is this (Pollard switches to Hebrew): "Ayfoh ha'boosha?" (Where is the sense of shame?)
[J4JP Note: Pollard then laid the groundwork for the rest of the interview with the following 3 points:
"I want to ask the Minister of Defense, Shaul Mofaz, Ayfoh ha'boosha? (Where is your sense of shame?) I heard on the radio that he met with Condoleezza Rice and agreed to release hundreds of security prisoners at her request. What about this prisoner! (Pollard uses his thumb to point to himself.) Whom Israel and the Minister of Defense have forgotten long ago. Even though I am still here, and America still has its boot on my neck. Ayfoh ha'boosha? Where is his sense of shame?"
"Next. In recent weeks I have received hundreds of letters from people in Israel who identify themselves as belonging to the left; most of the writers are non- religious. They all mention a new book by the name of "Boomerang" which just came out in Israel. These people write to tell me: now, suddenly we understand what you have been talking about all of these years! About the corruption in government. The moral corruption, the spiritual corruption, and the disengagement of the State of Israel from all that is moral and true and just.
"Suddenly people are beginning to understand how it happened that Israel has flushed me down the drain, and the role played by this Israeli Rasputin, Dubi Weissglass, author of this evil plan, this diabolical plan called 'the disengagement plan', whose goal it is to sacrifice Israel's national security to serve the interests of a corrupt, self-indulgent, self-centered regime, and devoted to advancing his own personal political agenda. This sheds light on the true nature of the relationship between Israel and America, not as a relationship between equal allies, but between an Imperialist power and a satellite colony..."
"…I would like," continues Pollard, as his face flushes with anger, "to dispel a wicked rumor, once and for all, which Sharon and his sycophants have been spreading about me for some time. There is not and never was any deal for my release in connection with the disengagement plan. Utter nonsense! I am being used as nothing more than a carrot on a stick which Sharon and his people are holding out to the Israeli public to make them think that perhaps such a deal has been made behind the scenes.
"It is simply a lie! If the Prime Minister would invest a fraction of the effort in securing my release that he invests in keeping his sons out of prison, I would have been home long ago. But there is a difference between Sharon's sons and this son (pointing to himself) who sacrificed all that he had for the benefit of Israel, which is now burying him alive in prison!
"I know that people may not believe me. I know that there will still be those who continue to believe that some sort of secret deal was made. Let me explain why that is not so. There are a number of things which must be done before a country seeks the release of an agent from prison. Such as, for example, to secure the cooperation of the agent, so he will not say or do anything counterproductive, either during the process or after he is released. During the time of Yitzhak Rabin, for example, Rabin sent a secret messenger to me with a document for me to sign detailing what I could and could not do upon release; I signed.
"The same thing occurred with Bibi. We had excellent relations with him; he treated us with respect and did not mock us or treat us with contempt. (B.G: unlike with Sharon)
"When we knew what Bibi was planning to do, we warned him to have a backup plan for when the Americans reneged. We told him that the Americans would promise my release to get what they want and at the last minute, they would renege.
"This was told to him at a private meeting, face to face. He laughed and said he knows the Americans very well. Sharon is no Rabin, and he is no Bibi. He is just the opposite. Which brings me to Barghouti."
A MAN WITHOUT HONOR
"Barghouti is coming out", said Pollard. "How do we know? We were told."
Who told you?
Pollard throws a quick glance in Esther's direction. "Okay. Olmert told us." [J4JP corrects this misquote: Jonathan actually said that a close associate of theirs had been informed by Olmert.] Specifically, Olmert said that Israel is grooming Barghouti and preparing him to be the next leader of the Palestinians. What is more, we were told that Barghouti intended to run for President of the PA against Abu Mazen, but Elliot Abrams, during his visit to Israel, met with Barghouti's people. He gave them ironclad American promises regarding Barghouti, which induced Barghouti to drop out of the elections.
"This is the way one goes about preparing someone for release. That is the point. The meeting with Barghouti was done in secret; promises were made to him; he was asked to keep a low profile. None of these things have happened in my case, in spite of all of the spin by Sharon's people."
In response Ehud Olmert told Maariv: "I never spoke with Pollard, not about Barghouti or anything else. I also never spoke with his wife, nor have I met with her or spoken with her about any other subject. I have no idea how they came up with this story."
[Justice4JP responds: It is true that Olmert did not speak directly with Jonathan, but to a very close contact of the Pollards. In the coming months, watch the headlines for Barghouti. It will soon become apparent who is telling the truth. See Also: Yediot (English): Government Officials Recommend: Free Barghouti.]
Now back to Pollard in prison. "I have been told: only Sharon can free you. Just like Nixon was the only one who could make peace with China. This would be true if we were a normal country. But Israel is not a normal country. Israel is a country that is ruled by a corrupt, twisted, sick, self-centered political establishment - in short: a perverted version of Disneyland."
"Let me tell you something. Not long after Bush was elected in 2000, someone close to the President contacted my wife. (BG: this person had a certain share in helping Bush to become elected.) They told her that a request for my release by a religious figure, with the initiative coming from Jerusalem would be looked upon favorably.
"Esther flew to Israel at once to meet with HaRav Mordecai Eliyahu, the former Chief Rabbi of Israel, to put the initiative together. She detailed the plan to Prime Minister Sharon at a meeting attended by HaRav Eliyahu, my attorney Larry Dub, the late Rechavam Ze'evi, and the Prime Minister. Sharon asked for the name of our contact in Washington, the initiator of the plan, and he was told. He did not respond, he just continued to write things. Everyone thought that he must be writing important notes. But my wife got a little closer and had a look at his notes.
"Do you want to know what he was writing? Nothing! He was doodling the whole time we were sitting there! Sometime later Gandhi (Ze'evi) spoke with Sharon. He called us and said that he was ashamed of the Prime Minister's response. We asked why. He said: "The Prime Minister said that the only way he would bring Pollard home is in a coffin."
QUESTION: Over the years you have implied that Sharon may be abandoning you because he does not want the level of his involvement in your operation to be revealed. Among other things, the head of LAKAM the bureau you worked for, was Rafi Eitan, who was known as Sharon's dirty tricks man. Is there anything to this?
"Sharon is a man who has shown himself to be completely indifferent to the casualties of war which fall around him as he pursues his goals. Contrary to the myth of his bravery as a general, the fact is that his political career was built upon blood, and it means nothing to this dictator. What we are talking about is a fatal character flaw. Sharon is a man without honor. It is impossible to embarrass a man without honor.
"Moreover, I was asked by Rafi, at a meeting which took place in Paris, to collect political information for Sharon to help advance his career. Behind the back of Rafi, others who were sitting at the table signaled me, shaking their heads and silently indicating "No, no!" I, of course, refused. Is Sharon afraid that I will reveal the names of those he asked me to spy on for him? Is he afraid that it will be revealed to what lengths he was willing to go to advance his own political interests, at the expense of a young and dedicated agent? Perhaps. But you will have to ask him. All I am asking is: Ayfoh ha'boosha? (Where is his sense of shame?)"
QUESTION: One of the things you need is a truthful affidavit from your former handler, Aviam Sella who claimed in 1987 that he did not run you, and that he had been nothing more than a first contact, a position which even Israel has retreated from since then. Have you asked Sella directly?
"No. No." said Pollard, and he cast a glance in the direction of Nick, the NSA monitor. "Look, he can't do it without the permission and direction of the Government of Israel."
"He prefers to remain silent," said Esther Pollard, "to receive his Israeli Government pension and keep his mouth shut."
[Justice4JP Note: While it is true that Sella may prefer to remain silent and collect his government pension, the involvement of the Israeli government is absolutely necessary. Without Israel's permission and direct involvement in this process to resolve Jonathan's case, a new affidavit would be useless.]
AGONIZING EVERY NIGHT IN MY PRISON CELL.
QUESTION: When was the last time you had any contact with Rafi Eitan, also known as "Rafi the stinker"?
Pollard laughs bitterly. "A few years ago, I saw a copy of the "New York Times". On the front page was a photograph of Rafi Eitan who had received some sort of American prize for the creative management of his tropical fruit plantation in Cuba. In the photo he was wearing a straw hat and sipping an exotic tropical cocktail, and it said that he cries every night over Pollard. He cries every night? I agonize every night in my cell while he is drinking cocktails in Cuba! That's all I have to say about Eitan."
QUESTION: How did you feel when you heard that Elchanan Tannenbaum, (the dubious character whom Sharon sold to the Israeli public as a hero in peril whose teeth had been pulled out with a pliers), was returned to Israel in such a perfect state of health as to be enviable?
"That was beautiful. Sharon's whole tactical process, I mean. When I saw pictures of Tannenbaum on TV I said to myself, 'Wow! Hezbullah's dentists really did a great job of restoring his teeth. They should move to Beverly Hills; they would make lots of money.'
"If you want a serious response: the Tannebaum deal was a classic case of a corrupt deal between two corrupt organizations: Hezbullah on the one hand, and Arik Sharon and company on the other. Between a vendor who was trying to sell treif meat as if it were kosher, and a buyer who was trying to convince the people of Israel that the meat was kosher even when he knew full well it was treif (unfit for consumption)."
QUESTION: Recently the former Ambassador to the United States, Itamar Rabinovitch, stated that the case of Larry Franklin (the "Pentagon mole" who was indicted recently on charges of supplying classified information to a foreign nation, meaning Israel) as well as the security tensions with the US, which have been caused by the arms deal with China, ruin your chances for release. Your response?
"When Mr. Rabinovitch was here in Washington, I very much wanted to meet with him. But he did not come to see me, and he never expressed any special interest in my case. And now suddenly out of nowhere he is making statements about me. Doesn't that seem a little strange to you? The explanation is simple: the State of Israel is preparing the ground for the release of Barghouti. The closer the date of his release comes, the more you will start to hear other 'learned' opinions about 'why it is impossible to free Pollard'. This time it is because of China. Next time it may be because of Franklin, and so on. From a strategic standpoint there is a certain beauty to this rouse. The problem is that one needs to wear a gas mask so as not to be choked by the stench of the lies."
[J4JP Note: Israeli media routinely allows the right of response to anyone mentioned in an interview. The responses of Prime Minister Sharon's office below run the gamut from laughable to simply not credible. For further information, there are links to supplemental reading material in the "See Also" list which follows below.]
The Prime Minister's media advisor responded to Maariv: "From the time that Prime Minister Ariel Sharon was elected, he has worked to free Jonathan Pollard. After the visit of Prime Minister Sharon to President Bush's ranch in Texas this year, he instructed the Israeli Ambassador to the United States, Danny Ayalon, to visit Pollard in prison - a step which has never before been taken by any other Prime Minister in the past. As well, there is a committee headed by the Cabinet Secretary, Israel Maimon as well as representatives of the relevant Government offices, which deals with the issue."
Regarding Pollard's statement that he is being used by Sharon and his people in order to advance the disengagement plan by softening opposition to it, Sharon's media advisor stated: "That never was and never will be. The name of Pollard was never linked to the disengagement plan with the intention of winning over those who oppose the plan."
About the appellations "dictator", "Rasputin" and the mention of Sharon's son's (being kept out of prison by their father's massive efforts), the Prime Minister's media advisor responded: "These things are not worthy of response." Regarding Pollard's quote of Rechavam Ze'evi: "Not true; utter falsehood. The Prime Minister never said anything like that or in that style."
Regarding raising the subject (of Pollard) in talks between Sharon and Bush this year: "The subject comes up with the American government during every trip that the Prime Minister makes to the United States including his most recent visit."
This week, in response to a question in the Defense and Foreign Relations Committee, Prime Minister Sharon said the following about the Pollard issue: "The way to solve this problem is not with slogans, or media releases, but by a discrete route - and that is how we are working."
An official in the Prime Minister's office said that he cannot understand what would motivate anyone to question the Prime Minister's treatment of the issue, as if he had no interest in freeing Pollard. After all, there is no dispute, said the same official, that if Pollard were released, it would only enhance the standing of the Prime Minister.