Esther Pollard's Speech at Meirom Ayalon (near Mevo Choron)
Following an out-door dinner and a video presentation about Jonathan Pollard, Esther Pollard spoke. Her speech was presented in Hebrew. An English translation follows below:
Today is Remembrance Day. Today we are remembering. We are remembering the sons of our Nation, heros of the IDF who fell and gave their lives on behalf of the nation and the homeland. We are also remembering the sons of our nation who are still alive in captivity, our captives and MIAs. We are remembering Ron Arad, Tzvi Feldman, Yehuda Katz, Zarcharia Baumel, Guy Hever, Gilad Shalit, Ehud Goldwasser, Eldad Regev, and of course, my husband Jonathan Pollard.
The question that needs to be asked is: why are we remembering our native sons who are alive in captivity, instead of rescuing them? Why do we persist in holding memorial ceremonies for them, as we do for our war dead, instead of bringing them home?
If one were to ask this question of our prime minister he would not be pleased. No doubt he would reply something to the effect that the 'Government of Israel continues to work, night and day, to do everything in its power to bring all of Israel's captives home.' But is it true? Can we believe our leaders when they tell us that they are doing everything to bring our boys home? Is it even possible to investigate?
We do not know what happened, and what is currently happening to most of our captives and MIAs. We do not know, for the most part, where they are, who is holding them, and what has ultimately been their fate.
We do know however, what has happened to one of them, my husband, Jonathan Pollard. If we look into his case, and study the attitude and action (or shall we say lack of action) of the government of Israel over the last 22 years, we may be able to learn something about the fate of all of our captives and MIAs.
As you certainly know, Jonathan was an Israeli agent who passed vital security information to Israel about our enemies who were plotting to destroy us. Israel had a right to this information according to a Memorandum of Understanding signed between the two nations in 1983, but the United States was deliberately withholding this critical information in an illegal embargo.
The median sentence for the offense that Jonathan committed - passing classified information to an ally with no intent to harm the US - is 2 to four years. Jonathan is now in his 22nd year of a life sentence with no end in sight. The Government of Israel claims that it is doing all that it can for Jonathan Pollard.
If that is so, why we are forced to remember him tonight, instead of having him here with us?
I would like to share with you some parts of the Pollard story that you did not see in the video tonight, and that you are not likely to have read anywhere else. This is information that is not very well known about Jonathan's case. I am sure that by the time I am through, you will be able to draw your own conclusions, not only about what has happened to Jonathan, but about all of our MIAs and captives.
Let me begin by reminding you that almost all of the same officials who were holding high government office or were a key part of the Defense/Intelligence establishment in Israel when Jonathan was first captured and when the rest of our boys were taken captive, are the same people who are still in government service to this day. They may have changed hats or offices here and there, but by and large the same inept, corrupt, self-serving politicians and officials are still around to plague us some two decades later. This is an unusual phenomenon; one that simply does not occur in other countries.
Going back to the beginning. When Jonathan was arrested in 1985, Israel used him to hold off the FBI while it evacuated all the rest of the team to Israel. Jonathan did as he was ordered, stalling his American interrogators until all the rest of the Israelis involved in his operation were whisked away to safety. Only Jonathan was left to face the wrath of the Americans. Although he did not know it at the time, there was never any intention of rescuing Jonathan. He had been designated by Israel, from the outset, to be the scapegoat that would take the blame for the whole operation.
As you saw in the video tonight, Jonathan never had a trial. He gave up his right to a trial in a plea agreement, which Jonathan honored and the US violated, but which Jonathan's attorney never protested. You see, Israel paid for Jonathan's first lawyer, Richard Hibey, a Lebanese American. And, as you know, he who pays the piper calls the tune. Because of Hibey's treachery, instead of the usual 2 to 4 year sentence for the crime he committed, Jonathan received an unlimited life sentence. After the sentencing hearing, Hibey had 10 days to file a document to protect Jonathan's right to appeal his life sentence. He did not file the document. As a result, to this very day, Jonathan has never been allowed to appeal his life sentence.
Ever since it found and paid for the lawyer who secured an unlimited life sentence for Jonathan, the Government of Israel has refused to pay a cent for the lawyers who are trying to help Jonathan! This is an important fact so I will repeat it: Israel bought and paid for the lawyer who secured an unlimited life sentence for Jonathan and who deprived him forever of his right to appeal that sentence; and ever since then, Israel has refused to pay a cent for lawyers who have been trying to get Jonathan out of prison!
After his sentencing hearing, Jonathan spent a year in a prison facility for the criminally insane, where he was held in solitary confinement, naked and incommunicado, and in inhumane conditions. Acting on the advice of the Mossad, the Americans eventually transferred Jonathan to USP Marion in Illinois. USP Marion is the harshest prison in the American federal system. Having studied Jonathan's psychological profile, the Mossad advised the Americans that Pollard was unlikely to survive in solitary confinement.
I should point out here that Jonathan did not work for the Mossad. He worked for a competitor of the Mossad, LAKAM. Jonathan's operation severely embarrassed the Mossad by providing the information to Israel that the Mossad should have been providing, but did not. To this very day, the Mossad has never forgiven Jonathan and continues to collaborate with his captors to keep him buried alive.
Thus, right from the outset, it was through under-handed collaboration between Israel and the Americans that the dastardly plan was hatched to have Jonathan Pollard die in prison. He was either supposed to become so depressed in solitary confinement that he would choose to die by his own hand, or if that failed, arrangements would be made to have him killed by "accident" by one of the guards. If we had hours and hours, and were to remain here all night, I could tell you many anecdotes of attempts on Jonathan's life, but for now, suffice to say that there are numerous examples.
Why did they want Jonathan to die, you ask? Very simple. For Israel, it would solve the problem. When Jonathan was arrested, Israel lied and said it knew nothing about the operation; and claimed that Jonathan was a "freelancer" who acted on his own. If he died in prison, Israel would never have to admit the truth. As for the US, they wanted Jonathan to die in prison so that their own lie, the Israeli spy Pollard was "the worst spy in the history of the United States", would similarly endure forever.
But, G-d had other plans for Jonathan. In spite of Israel's betrayal, neglect, abandonment, and its endless lies; and in spite of the US perversion of justice and inhumane treatment, Jonathan survived nearly 7 years of harsh treatment in solitary confinement at USP Marion.
While still in solitary confinement, he fought a difficult battle, on his own, without any assistance from Israel, to be transferred to an open population prison. In 1993 he won the battle, and he was transferred to FCI Butner, the same federal prison where he is housed to this day. Jonathan's transfer to Butner did not change Israel's plan for Jonathan.
Within a couple of weeks of the time Jonathan was transferred to open population, the Government of Israel sent a Mossad agent to visit him. The agent came with an official suggestion for Jonathan: that he solve the problem for Israel by killing himself. The agent said that the Government of Israel would even assist him to kill himself, if he wished. When Jonathan declined this "solution", the Mossad agent mocked him, saying that if he were really a man, he would kill himself.
That was in 1993. Up to and including that time, the Government of Israel was still denying that Jonathan worked for the State, and pretending that its only interest in him was purely humanitarian - Jewish charity, so to speak.
In attempt to get the Government of Israel to stop its lies and abandonment and to force it to protect Jonathan, he requested Israeli Citizenship. The government, of course, refused. So Jonathan took the government to court. He filed a petition with the Supreme Court of Israel, based on the law which states that all those who serve the security needs of the State have an automatic right to citizenship.
Out of fear of what might come out in court if a hearing were to be held, the government backed down. In return for Jonathan for canceling his petition with the Supreme Court, the government granted Jonathan citizenship in 1995. This was a major event. It was the moment when everyone, including the US, expected that Israel would step up to the plate and begin an intensive push to bring Jonathan home. But that did not occur. On the contrary, Israel gave him citizenship and then quickly turned its back on him again. Israel did absolutely nothing to help him or to protect him.
Neglected, abandoned, and ill, two more years went by without any improvement in his situation. Jonathan had to sue again to try to get Israel's attention. This time he sued to force the government of Israel to admit that he was an Israeli agent who had served the security interests of the country. Again Jonathan filed a petition in Supreme Court. - By the way, contrary to popular belief, the Supreme Court has never ruled in favor of Jonathan. The Supreme Court, as a matter of routine, always provides cover for the Government, and no relief for Jonathan. - In this case, once again, the State feared that the Court might intervene and that there was a risk of the truth coming to light, so the State agreed to formally recognize Jonathan as its agent, provided that he dropped his lawsuit. Jonathan obliged and was formally recognized as an Israeli agent in 1998.
As soon as Jonathan was recognized as an Israeli agent, the Government of Israel had only to do 2 things in order to precipitate critical changes in Jonathan's situation. First of all, it was supposed to include his name on the list of captives held by the Ministry of Defense. By adding his name to list, the Ministry would be able to immediately implement all of his rights as an agent in captivity, including taking steps to secure his immediate release.
The second thing the State of Israel was supposed to do was to officially inform the United States Department of Justice, the Bureau of Prisons and the American State Department that Jonathan Pollard is an Israeli agent and that the Government of Israel intends to seek his release.
Sounds simple doesn't it? Just put Jonathan Pollard's name on a list at the Ministry of Defense in Israel; and officially inform the Americans of his status as an agent in captivity. That is all that Israel had to do! But, even these simple, basic steps were never taken by Israel!
To this very day, the Government of Israel has never officially informed the US that Jonathan is her agent. If that were done, the US would be forced to treat Jonathan as an agent in captivity, and not as a common criminal. The US would not have dared to afflict him or abuse him, if he were classified as an agent in captivity. But, to this day, the US still considers Jonathan to be nothing more than a common criminal, and continues to treat him as such.
Moreover, because Israel never officially informed the US that Jonathan is her agent, Israel refused to put his name on the list of captives at the ministry of defense, for fear that the Americans might find out.
What does it mean then, that Jonathan's name does not appear on the list at the Ministry of Defense? It means, among other things, that he is effectively deprived of all of his rights as an agent in captivity. For example, in 22 years, neither Jonathan nor I have ever received a cent from the Government of Israel --- even though Jonathan has a right to his salary and other benefits while in captivity. Jonathan and I receive no medical, legal or moral assistance from the Government of Israel and never have. I am a cancer survivor and have undergone surgery and treatment for this illness, without any assistance from the government of Israel. Indeed, during the worst of times of my illness, when my husband was worried sick about me and could not be at my side to comfort or assist me, not a single Israeli official ever picked up the telephone to even inquire about my health.
Worst of all, the most serious implication of Jonathan's name being left off of the list of captives at the Ministry of Defense is that Jonathan's release has never been a priority on the official agenda of the Ministry of Defense, the Foreign Ministry, or of the Prime Minister's office, as it is with every other agent in captivity.
Instead for the last 22 years, successive governments of Israel have maintained the charade, pretending that Jonathan is not an agent, and not in captivity. This is accomplished by studiously keeping his file out of the hands of the appropriate office at the Ministry of Defense, and instead always keeping it in the hands of some special official who has neither the interest, nor the authority, nor the mandate to do anything for Jonathan. The official who holds Jonathan's file has always been someone high up in the Mossad, or high up in the prime Minister's office. In the past the file was held by the likes of Danny Yatom - the Mossad attaché to Peres and Rabin; or Moshe Kochanovsky, a special ops agent at the Ministry of Defense; and today it is held by Cabinet Secretary, Israel Maimon. What this means in practical terms, is that each of these 'guardians' of Jonathan's file are "the address". Anyone with questions about Pollard's treatment or his situation can turn to this special address. Anyone wanting to move his case forward can turn to them. But, of course, because they are a special address, there is no law which obliges them to respond! Get it? Anyone can ask about Pollard, but absolutely no one in charge of his file has to answer!
To this day there is still no Israeli plan for Jonathan's release. There never was. To this day, the original plan for Jonathan Pollard remains in place; and the special official holding his file, maintains the plan with exception. According to Jonathan's file, he is still supposed to die in prison. And of course, since the special guardian of the Pollard file answers to no one, there is no oversight, no appeal, and no protest possible.
What about Wye, you ask? Didn't Israel try to get Jonathan at Wye? Let's look at the facts: Jonathan was supposed to be the quid pro quo for the 750 murderers and terrorists that Israel released as part of the Wye Accords. Israel released the murderers and terrorists, but never collected Jonathan's freedom. This was the first time that Israel released murderers with blood on their hands, and they used Jonathan as the excuse. He was supposed to be the quid pro quo, not the excuse! In all of the time since then, Israel has conveniently "forgotten" that she has already bought Jonathan's freedom and paid the full price. Tell me, how does a country pay the price in blood, and then just "forget" to collect its part of the deal, our captive!?
Ladies and Gentlemen: the fact that my husband Jonathan Pollard is still alive, the fact that he survives after 22 years, each and every single day that he survives, is an absolute and utter miracle! As for the Government of Israel, there is not enough time to go into details right now, but let me assure you again that their original plan for Jonathan has not changed one iota in 22 years. Mr. Olmert and his buddies, including Shimon Peres and Rafi Eitan, and a whole gang of Mossadniks are still waiting patiently for Jonathan to die in prison, G-d forbid!
As we asked earlier, can we trust what our Prime Minister and other Government officials are telling us? I maintain that we can trust them. Not when they are speaking publicly or talking to the media, but when they are speaking behind closed doors.
Here are a few examples of what Israeli officials, who are obliged to seek Jonathan's release, have had to say about the matter privately:
ARIK SHARON: Former Prime Minister of Israel, scandalized the late Rechavam Ze'evi, when he told him point blank: "The only way I will ever agree to bring Pollard home is in a coffin."
YITZHAK SHAMIR: another former Prime Minister of Israel, in separate meetings with Jonathan's attorney Larry Dub, and with his parents, told them: "A sovereign state has to know how to abandon those who serve the state, if the need arises."
EZER WEIZMAN: the former President of Israel, acting on behalf of the Government of Israel, arranged a meeting with Jonathan's brother, Harvey and attempted to give him a message of condolences for Jonathan's parents on the loss of their son. Harvey was outraged and angrily responded, "My brother is still alive! How dare you refer to him as if he had already died?!"
SHIMON PERES: Israel's deputy Prime Minister, speaking to 2 ministers who sought his assistance in advancing freedom for Pollard said, "Pollard is a lost cause. Nothing to do. Just forget him!"
RAFI EITAN: Pollard's former handler and today a Government Minister told Esther Pollard and Larry Dub that his only regret about the Pollard case was that he had failed to put a bullet through Jonathan's head when he sought refuge at the Israeli Embassy in Washington. To this day, Eitan tells reporters that he feels no personal sense of responsibility for Pollard; that what happened to Pollard was "an operational failure, nothing personal."
As for EHUD OLMERT, Israel's current Prime Minister, his only interest - as expressed to behind-the-scenes contacts - is in freeing the terrorist murderer, Marwan Barghouti, not Jonathan Pollard. He does not even feign interest in Pollard. Olmert envisions sharing the Nobel peace prize with Barghouti!
Let me remind you, Jonathan was not a drug dealer or a scoundrel, who betrayed the State to Hizbullah for profit. Jonathan was and is a bona fide Israeli agent. From what I myself have heard from top level government officials, the information that Jonathan gave to Israel saved us from another holocaust.
And this is how the Government of Israel treats a man who served the State and who saved the lives of countless Israeli citizens, and who has served 22 years in prison on behalf of the State of Israel??!
If this is the way that the Government behaves towards a thoroughly visible captive like Jonathan, one who is able to speak for himself, one who can be visited, one who writes and phones and whose condition is known; then ask yourself, how is the Government really behaving towards those captives who are not so visible, who cannot speak for themselves, whom we cannot see, and whose condition we do not know. If you think about it, and you ask yourself some very simple questions, you will come to the same conclusions that Jonathan and I were forced to come to, by our own experience.
Then you will surely understand the premise that we started out with tonight. Namely, that we have both a right and an obligation to remember those who have fallen in the service of the State. We must honor the memory of those who are no longer alive. But, as for the others: Ron Arad, Tzvi Feldman, Yehuda Katz, Zarcharia Baumel, Guy Hever, Gilad Shalit, Ehud Goldwasser, Eldad Regev, and my husband Jonathan Pollard, remembering them, while they are still alive and in captivity, instead of bringing them home is a travesty! It is the height of hypocrisy! And it is a crime against humanity. There is no reason to memorialize those who still live. There is an absolute obligation to bring them home, without any further delay!
And, I am not recommending that Israel free murderers and terrorists to bring them home. No other nation in the world --- only Israel ---opens the doors to its jails and frees murderers and terrorists to secure the release of its captives - and even after doing so repeatedly, still does not secure the release of her captives.
Recently, 15 British sailors were taken captive by Iran. Does any one know how many terrorists Britain released in order to secure their release? Not a single one! That is right! Not a single terrorist or murderer was released by Britain to secure the release of their hostages from Iran. They were freed the way normal nations free their captives - intensive behind the scenes "negotiations", or threats or whatever, but no release of murderers and terrorists. Only Israel claims that it has to release murderers and terrorists! This is not the way to secure the release of captives, and this is not the way a nation with any self-respect behaves!
Enough is enough! It is time to stop the lies and hypocrisy by the government of Israel! It is time to stop releasing murderers and terrorists! It is time to mourn our dead, not the living! It is time to stop holding memorial services for our captives and MIAs! It is time to rescue our boys in captivity, instead of memorializing them! I do not have to tell our government how to free a captive! Nor do they need me to teach them that negotiation does not mean capitulation to terror! Or that when negotiation fails there are other means!
It is time for the Government of Israel to fulfill its obligation to those who have faithfully served the State, and have gone into captivity as a result. It is time to bring Jonathan Pollard and all of our captives and MIAs home, now, while they are still alive! No more charades; no more games; no more lies; and no more excuses! No other alternative is acceptable.
If I may, I would like to make a personal request of everyone here tonight, to please pray and pray and pray and pray some more for Jonathan and for all of our captives and MIAs. I have brought prayer cards with me for distribution to the community. If possible try to pray in groups. The power of prayer is our most potent weapon, and the power of prayer in groups is exponentially astronomic!
Before I end, let me thank you, the people of Mevo Choron for honoring Jonathan and all of our MIAs and captives tonight; and for inviting me to speak at this unforgettable event! I am deeply moved by the devotion to the land and people of Israel that I have seen demonstrated by the People of Mevo Choron tonight. Your devotion to developing the land at Meirom Ayalon is deeply commendable and touches our hearts! Jonathan and I wish you much blessing and success!