Beit El Grants Pollard Citizenship

Arutz Sheva News Service - IsraelNationalNews - Hillel Fendel, Editor - October 22, 2006, 30 Tishrei 5767

The township of Beit El granted Jonathan Pollard - nearing the end of his 21st year in American prison - honorary citizenship before some 500 citizens last night. Other towns may soon follow suit.

MK Uri Ariel (National Union), one of the initiators of the idea, spoke briefly at the impressive ceremony and said that he plans to motivate other towns and cities across Israel to similarly grant this honor to Jonathan Pollard. The event was planned and organized by Beit El resident Rivka Eisenbach, on behalf of the Beit El Cultural Center.

Beit El Mayor Moshe Rosenbaum bestowed his town's first-ever honorary citizenship upon Pollard, entrusting the certificate with Mrs. Pollard and inviting the two to move together to Beit El as soon as possible. Rosenbaum read aloud the text, beginning with this verse from Isaiah: "G-d's redeemed shall return and come to Zion with joy."

The text:

We, the residents of the Local Council of Beit El, are honored to grant to the Prisoner of Zion Mr. Jonathan Pollard the title 'Honorary Citizen' of Beit El. This, in recognition of his tremendous work on behalf of his people and homeland. Jonathan gave his life to save the State of Israel from very great security dangers - and in return for this, he has been rotting in American prison for 21 years. We call upon and request from the President of the United States to release him immediately. We call upon the Government of Israel, which recognized him as an Israeli agent, to put an end to his long-lasting suffering, and to this blow at Israel's honor, and to act zealously to obtain his release. We all pray to the Creator of the World for the fulfillment of this request this year.

With admiration and love, Moshe Rosenbaum, Mayor of Beit El, in the name of the residents

Rabbi Shlomo Aviner addressed the assembly, saying, "It's now 7,640 days that Jonathan Pollard has been sitting in American prison - and don't think that his American prison is anything like sitting in Israeli prison for blocking some intersection [in protest against the Disengagement; much of the audience chuckled, as many of them or their family members underwent precisely that experience]. The prison that Pollard is undergoing is pure hell. And it is made even more hellish because those who sent him have shaken off their responsibility towards him. It took so many years just for them to officially recognize him as an Israeli agent! The Americans also say that the Israelis are not making formal pleas for his release..."

"We are not in the Exile, where we have to beg," Rabbi Aviner said. "We are a sovereign state; the U.S. has interests, and Israel has interests, and we have to insist upon our interests... We must demand of our Knesset Members that they do what they can to pressure our government leaders to demand Pollard's release."

Mrs. Esther Pollard - who received an ovation when Pollard-activist Asher Mivtzari reminded the audience that she has "devoted her life" to obtaining her husband's release from prison - said that Prime Minister Olmert is scheduled to visit Washington next month. She read aloud the letter her husband had written to Olmert for the occasion, noting that Jonathan had asked that it be read to the citizens of Beit El. A Hebrew translation was read aloud by Bella Amiram, a woman who has given Esther a room in her apartment so that she can have somewhere to live while in Israel.

Pollard's letter reminds Olmert that around the same time of the visit, "I will be competing the 21st year of my incarceration in an American prison for my service to the security of the State of Israel..." He then ascribes to the Prime Minister a measure of personal responsibility for his 21 years of affliction, noting that the Prime Minister was a member of the Eban Commission, a Knesset Committee that investigated the Pollard affair20 years ago.

"You yourself," Pollard writes, "took the position that the manner of Israel's cooperation with the United States, and her assisting the prosecution against me was wrong... You had direct access to all of the information. There was so much you could have done right from the start to help me. Instead for 21 years you have shunned me; you have avoided saying or doing anything that might help; and you have dissuaded anyone who wanted to help from doing so."

"Since taking office as Prime Minster," the letter continues, "you have comported yourself as if I do not exist. Even as recently as two days ago, at the inaugural winter session of the Knesset you read out the names of all of Israel's captives and spoke of Israel's dedication to their swift and safe return home. My name was not on the list. A day before you made this speech, you received a written reminder of your moral and legal obligation to include me because of my status as an Israeli agent in captivity. Nevertheless, you still refused to mention my name. Such studied avoidance is no coincidence. The message it sends to the Americans is, even after 21 years in prison, I am still hefker [unwanted, abandoned]."

Specifically, Pollard accuses Olmert of not sharing with him the information that Israel's return of the documents it received from Pollard "was conditioned on a US commitment not to use the documents against me. Had I known that, it would have greatly assisted in my defense. And when the US violated that commitment, you still did not inform me of the existence of that commitment, nor did you officially protest. In all the years that have gone by since then, you have remained silent, never sharing this critical piece of information with me. Never speaking out on my behalf. Dissuading others from helping. Never doing anything at all to assist, even though you knew that your silence and inaction was costing me years of my life, and perhaps even my life."

"I ask you to end this dishonorable policy of abandonment when you visit Washington next month... Your meeting with President Bush is a golden opportunity to rectify that. By securing my release you will be acting in the best interests of the nation and all of Israel's captives. After 21 years, the return of Israel's longest-held captive is no longer an option. It is a matter of national honor."

A recent essay written by Mrs. Esther Pollard notes that former Pentagon analyst Ronald Montaperto was recently sentenced to only three months after having passed highly classified information to the Chinese over the course of several years: "Montaperto's spying for more than a decade damaged America's ability to monitor China's covert sales of arms to nation-sponsors of terrorism, such as Iran and Syria. Nevertheless, in deference to China, prosecutors downgraded the charges against Montaperto to 'mishandling of classified information,' which carries no more than a four-year sentence. Letters to the judge from Montaperto's colleagues pared his punishment down to a mere three months!"

This illustrates, Mrs. Pollard explains, "how the American justice system bent over backward so as not to antagonize the Chinese. On the other hand, the unduly harsh treatment of Jonathan Pollard and the perpetuation of his grossly disproportionate life sentence leave no doubt about successive administrations' unrelenting covert hostility towards the Jewish state."

Though there is much damning evidence against the U.S. for its treatment of him, "the single most cogent factor in the ongoing persecution of Jonathan Pollard," his wife writes, "is the failure of the government of Israel to step up to the plate and demand his release. Israel officially recognized Jonathan as its agent in 1998, but has never acted to secure his release."

  • See also: Document: Beit-El Ezrachoot Kavod (Honorary Citizenship): J4JP Release