Ambassador Apologizes, But Storm Just Increases

Hillel Fendel - Arutz7 News - May 22, 2007

US Ambassador Richard Jones has apologized for his statements about Jonathan Pollard. Pollard supporters, however, have a series of demands: They want a full retraction from Jones, as well as immediate action by Prime Minister Olmert to demand a pardon from US President Bush. They also say they won't let Israel get away with low-level Foreign Ministry talk of a release on "humanitarian" grounds.

The story began at Bar Ilan University on Monday morning, when Ambassador Jones told an audience that Pollard "took money for what he did [and] sold out his country." Even more controversial was his comment, "The fact that [Pollard] wasn't executed is the mercy that Jonathan Pollard will receive."

Pollard's wife Esther called the remarks "malicious incitement" in that they implied that Jonathan had committed treason. Later in the day, Jones apologized, saying his words reflected neither his personal views nor those of the Bush administration. Saying his remarks were "misinformed and misleading," Jones added, "I certainly do not personally believe that Mr. Pollard should have received capital punishment and I was appalled to learn that I had given that impression."

The statement of apology was emailed by Stewart Tuttle, the press attache of the US Embassy in Tel Aviv to, among others, Malcolm Hoenlein, Vice-Chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations. The email included the comment, "I personally thank you for helping us through this difficulty."

Esther Pollard said that without a full retraction, Jones's apology is inadequate: "Ambassador Jones falsely accused my husband of treason, falsely accused my husband of spying for money, and falsely accused him of harming the United States. He suggested that Jonathan ought to have been executed, reinforcing the false charge of treason. All of these false charges made by Richard Jones against Jonathan Pollard are still out in the public domain and doing damage. Unless and until Jones retracts these egregious lies and corrects the record, his apology is at best incomplete, and at worst insincere."

MK Uri Ariel, head of the Knesset Lobby for Pollard, said, "It's nice that [Jones] said he's sorry, but now the time has come to release Pollard, not just to apologize. The Prime Minister must turn immediately to US President Bush, demand an end to this disgrace, and have Pollard freed immediately."

Esther Pollard on Foreign Ministry Position

It was widely reported that after Jones's original speech, the Foreign Ministry had asked him for Pollard's release for "humanitarian reasons." Arutz-7 has learned, however, that what actually occurred was that Foreign Ministry official Yoram Ben-Ze'ev spoke with Jones and "reiterated the Ministry's well-known position on Pollard." Asked to explain what this "well-known" position actually includes, Foreign Ministry Spokesman Mark Regev told Arutz-7, "Israel has apologized for its mistakes in the Pollard affair and believes that he should be released on humanitarian grounds."

It could not be ascertained what Ben-Ze'ev actually told Jones - but Mrs. Pollard said it doesn't matter: "The whole thing just shows how not seriously Israel is taking this issue. It is not the place of a minor Foreign Ministry official to tell the Ambassador that it 'believes Pollard should be released'; this is something the Prime Minister of Israel must bring up directly with the President of the United States, who is the only one who can sign the paper to release Jonathan. The Prime Minister is in constant contact with the White House. Official agents are not released as a 'favor' on humanitarian grounds."

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