The Pollard Demo in The Jewish State of Fear
A report on the Pollard demonstration held at the Likud convention, September 25, 2005.
Esther Pollard - Justice4JP Release - September 26, 2005
Israel's security forces were on high alert yesterday at Ganei HaTarucha in Tel Aviv to prevent Jonathan Pollard, his wife, and/or any facsimile of Pollard from entering the exhibition grounds where the Likud convention was scheduled to take place.
Early in the day, Kol Yisrael radio announced, "Esther Pollard will be demonstrating at the Likud convention today" so the security forces were waiting for me when I arrived. They would not let me enter the grounds. They also barred entry to Nissan GanOr the head of the Committee to Bring Jonathan Pollard Home.
Nissan and I had arrived early in Tel Aviv where I was scheduled to meet with Moshe Feiglin, a staunch friend of the Pollard case, before the demo planned for later in the day. We met Moshe outside the fair grounds and proceeded to enter on foot. We thought to find a café inside and have our meeting there. The Shabak (Israel's secret service) had other plans.
The Shabak's task of barring me from the fair grounds was complicated by the fact that I was entering with Moshe Feiglin, a bona fide member of the Likud. The chief Shabaknik argued with Moshe that he could enter, but that I could not. He gave no reason why, other than the fact that "these are the orders I received."
Moshe patiently explained that I am the wife of an Israeli agent who has been in prison for 20 years for his service on behalf of the State, and that their attempts to bar my free passage into a public place is not only mean-spirited, but clearly unlawful. When I suggested that we contact the media to inform them of this outrage, the head Shabaknik decided he had better verify his orders. He returned after a few moments and said that I could enter, but the photos of Jonathan that we were carrying (I had just given one to Moshe) had to remain outside.
Nissan GanOr's car, containing the Pollard posters and materials, had been banned from entering the grounds so we made a spontaneous decision to hold the main demo outside at the gates to the Exhibition ground. This proved to be very effective. The area outside the gates was the sole portal of entry for all cars and all pedestrians entering the fair grounds. Everyone who attended the convention saw and heard the Pollard demo. Even those like David Levy or Gidon Sahr who turned their faces to pretend they did not see, were forced to be face to face with Jonathan Pollard posters and demonstrators.
Once inside the fairgrounds, it became clear that if I left I would not be permitted to re-enter. I therefore determined to remain inside and to hold a solitary vigil right outside the hall where the convention was taking place. Communicating with our team by cell phone, arrangements were made to support my actions inside by our people on the outside.
A lone Pollard activist, appearing incognito, smuggled in a large poster of Jonathan folded up under his shirt and brought it to me for my vigil inside the fair grounds. Outside the gates our people continued to gather for the main Pollard demo while inside I was holding my own.
Moshe Feiglin accompanied me much of the time on the inside. He was a perfect gentleman and took pains to introduce me to as many Likud delegates as he could. Interestingly enough, they were all very supportive of Jonathan. They all, to a man (none were female) expressed the same sense of impotence that Jonathan and I are used to hearing from Members of Knesset: "Yes, of course, Pollard's situation pains us greatly; yes of course we want him home; but what can we do about it; it is out of our hands." These people are the king-makers in Israel??
I stood outside of the convention hall for several hours talking with delegates. Every now and then one of Sharon's goons would come over and scream at me or scream at Moshe. There was no particular reason for the screaming other than pure provocation. Apparently the positive side of all this screaming was the media and cameras which followed the screamers around.
A memorable moment for me came when one of the Sharon goons began a subtle attack on me, first praising me in front of the cameras, saying that he supports Jonathan, even telling of how he participated in a demonstration for my husband 19 years ago. Then he slid into a verbal attack on me for demeaning and defaming the Prime Minister, chastising me for disparaging Sharon's efforts on behalf of my husband. I responded to him calmly and the TV cameras caught every word. Then out of the corner of my eye, Moshe signaled to me that someone else wanted to speak and I deferred to him. A lovely man stepped forward and picked up the discussion in front of the cameras, just where I had left off. His name was Oz and he identified himself as one of the Gush Katif expellees and he indicated that he wanted to respond to the goon's claim that Sharon is "the most compassionate prime minister Israel has ever had."
Oz spoke for the next few minutes detailing the brutal treatment that he and his wife and family had suffered at the hands of the "blackshirts and storm troopers" sent by our "compassionate prime minister" to throw them out of their homes and off of their land in Gush Katif. I was mesmerized by his recital of the brutality he and his family had endured. As he was speaking, the Sharon goon kept trying to interrupt and to change the subject but was unsuccessful. Neither the goon nor anyone else anticipated what came next.
Oz suddenly changed tracks and went straight for the heart of the Pollard issue. With great emotion and full conviction, looking straight into the cameras, Oz said, "If, after all that we went through being thrown out of our homes, watching them be destroyed, and seeing our land turned over to our enemies, if after all of that, our prime minister would at least have asked for Jonathan Pollard, would at least have brought Pollard home, then we might have be consoled that at least our suffering was not all in vain. But even Pollard was of no concern to him! Deep-sixing Pollard again when he went to Washington was just one final slap in the face to the entire nation by our "compassionate prime minister!"
Other Likud delegates then entered the fray. Again and again, they opined that Sharon had done Pollard dirt, again. Again and again they expressed their frustration and sense of impotence.
Another notable moment came when I approached MK Mickey Eitan for support. (What was I thinking?!)
Throughout the time that I stood outside the convention hall, I held the large poster of my husband which our activist had smuggled in to me. It was nearly as tall as I am. Security officials repeatedly came over to harass me and to order me to fold up the poster and hand it over to them. I refused and kept walking away from them. But they came persisted and came after me again and again. The harassment kept growing and the security guards threatened to call the police to arrest me. When I spotted Mickey Eitan, Mr. Law himself in the crowd, I decided to approach him for help.
Eitan was the head of the Knesset's Law Committee and he is currently the head of the Knesset's Constitutional Committee. He identifies himself as a strong supporter of Jonathan Pollard. I went up to him and asked if there was anything illegal about my carrying a poster. He asked me why I was asking. I replied that I am being harassed and threatened with arrest. "Who is harassing you?" he called over his shoulder, as he walked away from me and left me to fend for myself. I don't think he heard my response as he quickly trotted away. So much for the support of Israel's MKs!
Outside the fairgrounds at the main demonstration site, the numbers of demonstrators kept growing. Over the course of the day and early evening the numbers would wax and wane starting in the hundreds, growing to the thousands and completely covering the sidewalk and grass from the fair grounds entry to the nearest street corner, a distance away, and then waning again by evening back to the hundreds.
Towards the end of the evening I left my internal vigil - supported by Eleonora Shiffrin and Karen Dub - and ventured outside to meet and greet our activists. As I was addressing the crowd, my cell phone rang, and it was Jonathan. Our activists broke into a spontaneous chant: We love you Jonathan! over and over again. Jonathan was overwhelmed when he heard it and sent his love and thanks and greetings to the crowd.
I hung up with Jonathan and finished my speech, telling the overwhelmingly youthful crowd that we are deeply grateful for their constancy and their consistency. More than that we are grateful that they represent the future of AM Yisrael. This new generation with its understanding heart and compassionate activism understands what so many of their elders do not: that all of Israel are guarantors for each other.
Following dedicated and heroic Jewish leaders like Nissan GanOr and Adi Ginzburg of The Committee to Bring Jonathan Pollard home, our activists - young and old - are the best of the best. They are the cornerstone of the next commonwealth. They are the reason that Jonathan remains alive in spite of the years of torture and abuse and strives to come home.
May HaShem hear and answer all of our prayers for the speedy return of Jonathan Pollard and all prisoners of Zion and for a healthy, peaceful prosperous New Year for all of Am Yisrael. Amain!
For further information on upcoming Pollard activities visit http://www.FreePollard.org. Also stayed tuned to JonathanPollard.org His Honor HaRav Mordecai Eliyahu is planning an Atzeret Tefillah (a prayer rally) for Jonathan at Ma'arat HaMachpela in Hebron in the near future. Details to follow on the web and by email.