Jonathan Pollard Awarded 'Lover Of Zion' Prize
Hillel Fendel - Arutz7 News - March 22, 2007
The Jerusalem Conference, in an emotional ceremony on Tuesday, awarded Jonathan Pollard with its Lover of Zion award. Larry Dub presented the award and his wife, Esther, accepted it on his behalf.
The ceremony included words of deep appreciation from MK Uri Ariel, excerpts from a heart-rending letter written by Jonathan on the eve of Passover last year, the actual awarding of the prize, remarks by Atty. Dub, and a prayer [enlisting the participation of everyone present in the hall] initiated by Esther.
Following the ceremony, IsraelNationalRadio's Yishai Fleisher and Alex Traiman spoke with Esther and Atty. Dub.
The ceremony began with a musical performance conducted by Cantor Binyamin Glickman. Chairman MK Uri Ariel praised the singers and said, "Beautiful, just great. Just one thing was missing - and that is Jonathan Pollard."
"We would have liked our brother Jonathan to be here with us to enjoy these songs," Ariel continued, "and we will act so that this will in fact come true." MK Ariel then proceeded to thank the organizers and sponsors of the B'Sheva Jerusalem Conference for seizing the opportunity to award the Jerusalem "Lover of Zion" Prize to Jonathan Pollard.
Presenting the award to Jonathan's wife Esther, Ariel said that Pollard had given of his life to save the State of Israel. he noted emotionally that Jonathan, "a Prisoner of Zion, is now in his 22nd year of solitary and difficult confinement. He gave us information that was vital for our existence. The prize that we award him today is the minimum expression of our appreciation for his great love of Zion and the Jewish Nation."
Last Year's Letter: Hunger and Loneliness
Ariel then read aloud excerpts from what he called a "shocking letter" written by Jonathan a year ago:
"As Passover number 21 in prison approaches, unless a miracle occurs, here is what I will be facing during the week of our national Holiday of Freedom: hunger, hyperthermia, slave labor, loneliness, illness, and betrayal.
"Every Passover, there is not enough food, and hunger is my constant companion. This year will be worse: the Kosher-for-Passover foods for sale in the prison commissary were stolen by other inmates. What will be now, I have no idea... There will be no Passover Seder for me. No Shmura Matzah. No wine. No reclining as a free man. For the week of Passover, just like every other week, I will be washing windows and cleaning toilets. It's nothing personal. I am simply a symbol of the Jewish People... [I will be] all alone. No family. No friends. No visitors. I am worried sick about my beloved wife, Esther, who is now in Jerusalem. Esther is still fighting the battle for my release, in spite of her poor health, lack of funds, and absolutely no support from the Government of Israel. I miss her more than words can say. My heart breaks knowing that once again we will both spend this Holiday of Freedom as prisoners.
"21 years of prolonged affliction in some of the harshest conditions in prison have destroyed my immune system. My blood pressure is off the scale. I have high cholesterol, Type II diabetes, chronic rheumatic arthritis, symptoms of pre-glaucoma, severe gall bladder attacks, un-biopsied growths in my sinus cavities, in addition to severe chronic sinusitis which is often accompanied by bleeding, dizziness, nausea, and blinding headaches. Adding the stress of not enough to eat and other Passover privations, only makes things worse.
"My service to Israel was not for the sake of any political party or leader. I enlisted to serve the Nation, for the good of all. I never asked for any thanks, or for any reward... Our tradition teaches us not to rely on miracles, but rather that we must make our efforts, and G-d will do the rest. This letter, this message, is my effort. It is a final cry from the heart, from the depths of my soul, from out of dire straits, a gut-wrenching, earth-shattering cry from the depths - a heartfelt plea to my brothers and sisters, all the House of Israel.
"For 21 years, I have been slowly bleeding to death in full view of the entire nation of Israel. For 21 years, my cries for help have gone unheeded, my pleas unanswered. If G-d forbid, time runs out, there will be no way to rectify the sin of standing idly by the blood of a brother.
"Hear O Israel! The L-rd is our G-d, the L-rd is One! It is time to do Tshuva (repentance)! It is time for all the House of Israel to unite for the sake of the holy commandment of Redemption of Captives! Time to act! Time to pray! Time to influence! Time to demand!
"Only through the unity of Israel can we show the Creator of the World that the House of Israel will no longer be silent; will no longer stand idly by a brother's blood. By redeeming one single captive, all of the House of Israel may indeed redeem itself.
"The Holiday of Freedom is approaching. With G-d's help, salvation comes in the wink of an eye! May this be the Passover of our liberation - collectively and personally - and may this be the Passover of miraculous redemption for all of the captives of Israel."
A Strong Call to President Bush
MK Ariel then said, "From this conference in Jerusalem, the united city, we pray that Jonathan and his wife Esther merit to spend the upcoming Passover holiday together. We call upon Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to immediately ask President Bush for clemency. We call upon the municipality of Jerusalem to grant honorary citizenship to our brother Jonathan. We call upon President Bush to grant clemency as a humane and goodwill gesture to the Jewish nation in honor of the holiday of freedom. And we call upon ourselves and the entire People of Israel to raise our hearts and voices in prayer for the immediate release of this hero of Israel, as a simple act of human justice. And our prayers are not only for Jonathan alone; he himself always mentions all the other missing and captive Israeli soldiers, and we hope to act and bring them all back to Israel very quickly."
MK Ariel praised and thanked several groups working to ensure that Pollard is not forgotten: the Committee to Bring Jonathan Pollard Home, the youths who work tirelessly on his behalf, and Pollard-activist Asher Mivtzari.
Esther Pollard, receiving the prize in Jonathan's name together with Larry Dub, said that she is happy about the prize only because it "represents a correction and atonement for the government inaction on Pollard's behalf in the past."
Power of Prayer
Explaining, based on the Zohar, the tremendous power of united prayer by several people at once, Esther asked Asher Mivtzari to lead the audience in reciting the Nishmat prayer of thanks and praise. Rabbis, soldiers, young and old alike then took part in reciting the special prayer [found in prayer-books at the end of the Sabbath morning Psukei D'Zimra service].
Rabbi She'ar-Yashuv Cohen, Chief Rabbi of Haifa, then summed up with a concluding prayer [composed by HaRav Mordecai Eliyahu] for the Heavenly gates to open and receive the prayers on behalf of Jonathan Pollard.