Jonathan Pollard's Speech Marking Year 21 In Prison
November 21, 2005
[Prepared for delivery at the Human Chain Rally and Demo for his release in Jerusalem, November 23, 2005]
November 21, 2005 marks the start of my 21st year of incarceration in America for my service to the security of the State of Israel. On this black day in our national history, here are some thoughts to ponder:
The State of Israel won its freedom in 1948 but has yet to win its independence. After overcoming the trials of 5,766 years of Jewish history, here is what Israel looks like after only half a century of statehood:
- The Israeli political establishment has no shame, no red lines, and little concern for the security of its citizens. Israeli captives languish in foreign prisons for years -- in some cases for decades -- while Arab murderers and terrorists are routinely freed from Israeli jails, only to murder again.
- The Israeli military establishment has no definition of victory, and openly admits that it intends only to contain the enemy, not to vanquish it. Israeli generals are less interested in defending the Land than they are in using their careers as a stepping-stone to political office.
- The Israeli security establishment is passionately devoted to persecuting religious Jews, and less concerned about prosecuting Arab enemies. The police spend a disproportionate amount of time arresting, interrogating and jailing religious youth, instead of pursuing criminals.
- The Israeli judicial establishment is so closely tied to a leftist political agenda, that its rulings are both biased and predictable. The Supreme Court responds within hours to appeals which promote a leftist, pro-Arab agenda, but drags its heels on bagatzim which may save Jewish lives - my own included.
- The Israeli Army has been corrupted to such an extent that it no longer has a mission. Jewish soldiers are arrested and jailed if they dare to defend themselves against the enemy. But they are rewarded and praised for throwing Jews out of their homes and destroying their homes and livelihoods.
- Perversely, the more that our Arab enemies attack us, the more Jewish blood they spill, the more the Israeli Government rewards them with gifts of weapons and Jewish land.
- Even more perverse, millions of shekels are spent each year by the Government to compensate our Arab enemies for injuries they sustain in violent confrontations which they initiate with Israeli forces, while billions are spent building useless fences to attempt to contain the enemy instead of simply eliminating the danger.
- Welfare payments and disproportionate family allowance payments to the Arab enemy within our midst are made at the expense of Jewish taxpayers.
- While all this money is being wasted, fully 1/3 of Israel's children live below the poverty line, and thousands of Jewish children go to bed hungry every night.
- Incompetence and corruption in Government is the rule rather than the exception. Those Government Ministries which regulate the most critical aspects of our national life - from housing to health care to industry - are not run by professionals, but are given to political appointees as a reward for party loyalty.
In light of the above, consider this:
A government derives its right to rule only through the fulfillment of its responsibilities towards its citizens. The most basic function of government is its obligation to protect and defend its citizens. Any reasonable person must agree that a government which is unwilling or unable to discharge its most basic responsibilities towards its citizens has, in effect, ceded its right to govern.
I am often asked if I am angry that the Government of Israel has not done more to secure my release --- First of all, the question is wrong. It should be: Am I angry that the Government of Israel has done absolutely nothing to secure my release?
In the 20 years I have been in prison, the Government of Israel has never taken the most basic steps to lay the ground work for my release.
- The Government of Israel, to this very day, has never officially informed the American Justice Department that I am an Israeli agent, that Israel accepts full responsibility for me, and I should be treated accordingly. Consequently, the Americans continue to treat me like a common criminal, not like an agent in captivity.
- Even after the Government promised the Israeli Supreme Court in 1999 that it would fulfill its obligations to me as an agent, the Government of Israel has never implemented my status by placing my name on the list of captives at the Ministry of Defense. This has deprived me and my wife of all the rights and benefits that an agent in captivity has, including the obligation of the Government to seek my immediate release.
- The Government of Israel has never quietly sent an official representative to secure my cooperation and my silence, as is customary, when it intends to press for my release. Why? Because there have been no initiatives to press for my release. Only publicity stunts designed to appease the Israeli public.
- Senior American Congressmen and Senators have told my wife and me that in the 2 decades that I have been in prison, no Israeli Government official ever mentions my name or asks for their assistance in securing my release.
- Whenever we are informed by high level contacts in Washington that there is willingness on the part of the Americans to release me, we immediately advise the Prime Minister, and the Foreign Minster, who have consistently, diligently torpedoed every opportunity.
In the twenty years that I have been in prison, the Israeli Government has explicitly and implicitly sent the same message to the Americans: Pollard is 'hefker'; do as you wish with him. When my case went back to court in the US in 2003, the Government of Israel did not even bother to send a representative to the hearing. The night before my hearing, the Israeli Consul General in New York appeared on CNN and described me as a free-lancer and as an embarrassment to Israel. Months later, when the US Appeals Court rejected my case, CNN reported that Israeli officials were contacted for comment but refused to return their calls.
To this day, the Government of Israel:
- refuses to issue a letter to the American Justice Department and/or to the Congress acknowledging responsibility for my operation and extending its support to me.
- refuses to supply Israeli foreign officials with a clear policy on my release so that they can speak effectively on my behalf, instead of slandering me in America.
- refuses to take responsibility for me with the US Bureau of Prisons, and tolerates my being abused and afflicted in prison without any protest.
Every opportunity to secure my release, including potential spy swaps has been deliberately wasted. Two classic examples:
1) The Case of IDF Officer Yossi Amit:
Four months after I was arrested, Yossi Amit, an officer in the Israeli army was arrested in Israel for spying for the Americans. Instead of using the Amit arrest to secure my release through a spy swap, Israel arrested Amit secretely, tried him secretely, jailed him secretely and released him secretely. No one knew about Amit until he was released.
2) The Case of Angie Kielcynski (aka Yosef Barak)
Angie Kielcynski, an Israeli who was appointed by Arik Sharon to the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee in 1985, was exposed in the year 2001 as a spy for the Americans. Kielcynski was exposed when he sued the CIA for pension and benefits for his work as a spy from 1985-91. His lawsuit documented that he was the Israeli who exposed me to the Americans, leading to my arrest.
Kielcynski returned to Israel to live in 2001. For years, I have asked every Government official that I met to investigate. I turned also to the Prime Minister, and to "friends" in the cabinet. I even wrote to the Mivaker haMidina. In spite of all of my efforts, Kilciensky was never arrested, or interrogated. He continues to live in Israel with complete impunity. The possibility of using the exposure of this Israeli traitor to secure my release was never even considered.
To summarize, let me paraphrase an old quote, from Abba Eban: "The Government of Israel has never missed an opportunity to miss an opportunity" to free me. I ask you, how else is it possible for successive governments to be toiling for 20 years to secure my release, without making even a single centimeter of progress? No one can be that incompetent!
How about latest episode? In September of this year, right after the disengagement from Gaza, Sharon flew to New York to meet with President Bush at the UN. We were told by our own high-level contacts, that if Sharon were serious about my release, I would be put on the same plane home with him. Instead, Sharon's people flooded the media with negative appeals to Bush, encouraging him not to do anything to release me. The President got the message and obliged.
Am I angry? No. But I am deeply saddened that this kind of treachery has been permitted to go on for two decades. How is it that the People of Israel can tolerate such lies and deception, day after day, year after year, until 20 years have gone by? I assure you that my abandonment is not the only thing that the Government of Israel is lying about.
I am also deeply saddened by the role that the Israeli media has played in allowing the Government to get away with its callous treatment and utter abandonment of an agent for 2 decades. To this day, the media behaves as if securing my release is some sort of favor that the Government is doing for me, and that I should be satisfied with their empty declarations of intent.
In my experience over the last 20 years, it is clear to me that in addition to the Israeli media, not a single Israeli Government official -- political, judicial or military - has demonstrated any awareness that securing the release of an Israeli agent in captivity is an absolute obligation of the State and not some favor the State may undertake or reject at will. I repeat, an obligation, not a favor!
What to do about it?
It is time for the People of Israel to stop accepting the lies and the corruption of the Israeli Government as a way of life. It is time for the People to stop being hypnotized by national symbols and national myths. The blue and white Israeli flag flapping in the breeze and the strains of HaTikvah instantly induce in our People a patriotic state so overwhelming that it blinds our eyes and obviates our ability to think rationally.
Turn off the music! Stop waving the flag! Start dealing with reality. The reality is that our innate sense of propriety as Jews, our deeply inculcated respect for power and authority, has made us inadvertent, unwilling accomplices to some of the worst crimes against the Jewish people - the 20 year abandonment of an Israeli agent is one of them and the expulsion of the People of Gush Katif is another.
Only the People of Israel - with the help of G-d Almighty - has the right to decide what our future will be. At this critical juncture in our history, it is up to the People of Israel to decide whether we are going to be a sovereign self-respecting Jewish State, or a vassal state and colony of the US. Whether we will distinguish ourselves as a nation known for its honor and integrity, or as a nation of slaves, ruled by knaves and scarred by corruption. Whether we will be a nation that lives by the motto 'kol Yisrael arevim zeh l'zeh; or whether we will degenerate into a nation of beggars - each man out only for himself. Either we, as a People, will demonstrate proper devotion and concern for the Land, for Torah and for each other and demand it of those who govern us; or we will lose our own hearts for not even trying. Without a Jewish heart, without a Jewish soul, we lose our legitimate claim to our G-d given inheritance.
I want to thank all of the organizers and participants of this honorable event and to wish you all 'yashar koach' for coming together to promote truth and justice in the struggle for my release. Once my release is gained only then can the process of healing the nation begin, and the restoration of our national honor and integrity be begun. May G-d bless your good Jewish hearts and the work of your hands, and may the process of redemption begin speedily in our day! Amain!