Jonathan Pollard's Yom Yerushalyim Speech:
Zion, hallo tishalee eht shlom assiraych?*
May 25, 2006
Jonathan Pollard's speech was written for presentation at the Yom Yerushalayim Ceremony at the Kotel 25 May 2006 (Jerusalem Day). It will be presented simultaneously at other Yom Yerushalayim festivities throughout the country.
My Brothers and Sisters, the whole House of Israel:
Over the last 21 years it has never been easy for me to get a message out from within the prison walls. Every such attempt diminishes the limited opportunity that I have for maintaining contact with the outside world.
That is why - right from the start of my incarceration - I have always deliberately avoided using the limited opportunities to communicate with the Israeli public to talk about my own private hell. I have always preferred to forego expressing my feelings of isolation, betrayal and abandonment; or speaking about my deteriorating health and the life -and-death nature of my daily existence. Instead, I chose to focus on the national aspects of my plight: the mitzvah of Pidyan Shvuyim and the moral obligation never to abandon a wounded soldier in the field.
However, time is running out, and I can no longer afford to continue in the same vein.
Very few prisoners survive 21 years under the conditions in which I have been held and continue to be held. Those Israeli officials, who have for years claimed to be using "quiet diplomacy" for my release, while waiting for time to take its own effect, never imagined that the "Pollard problem" would still be around after all this time. They never dreamed that I would refuse to give up and just die.
The support and encouragement which I have received over the years, first and foremost from my wife, Esther, and from my rabbi, HaRav Mordecai Eliyahu, shlita, and from all of the activists and supporters who work with them in the struggle for my release, is what has kept me alive and enabled me to go on.
The fact that I am still alive today is a complete miracle. My rabbi, Kavod HaRav Mordecai Eliyahu says that the reason I have survived miraculously from day to day is because the Shechinah is with me and has been accompanying me in prison throughout my long ordeal. The Rav says that by its actions the Government of Israel has not only abandoned and betrayed me, but it has also shown no mercy to the Shechinah** in captivity.
My brothers and sisters! I have been slowly bleeding to death before your very eyes for 21 years! My desperate situation, the result of the Government's treachery and abandonment, is a chillul HaShem that screams to the Heavens.
And where is the Nation?
I cry out to you from the depths of my soul: Zion, hallo tishalee eht shlom assiraych? Zion, won't you seek the welfare of your captives!
If Zion will not seek the welfare of her captives, it is not the personal problem of the captives. The problem rests entirely upon Zion and upon all who dwell in Zion.
I do not fear for my own fate. Whatever Heaven decrees for me I will accept with love. But I am filled with dread for the fate of the Nation which I so love. If the Nation continues to allow the Government to ignore the divine commandment: "Do not stand idly by your brother's blood," without crying out or lifting a finger to stop this terrible sin, I am afraid to even to think about what the consequences will be.
I do not know how much time is left. I only hope and pray with all my might, for the sake of the Nation of Israel, that we will all wake up and do what needs to be done, now, before it is too late!
With love of Israel,
Butner, North Carolina
*Translation of title: Zion won't you seek the welfare of your captives?
Title is from a famous poem of the same name, written by Yehudah Halevi, a Jewish physician, poet and philosopher, who lived in Toledo, Spain, circa 1085 -1141. The heart-rending phrase, "Zion, hallo tishalee eht shlom assiraych?" (Zion, won't you seek the welfare of your captives?) is the Israeli idiom for those held in captivity in foreign lands. This poem is the source of the modern-day concept "Prisoner of Zion."
** The Shechina: In simplest terms, the Shechina (n.f.) is the presence of G-d which dwells with Israel, offering comfort in sorrow and accompanying her in exile.