Esther Pollard's Speech at "Women of Courage" Awards Ceremony

Sponsored by Nechama Trauma and Bereavement Organization

January 27, 2008 B"H

My husband Jonathan Pollard and I have been able to survive the indignities, afflictions, and outright torture for the last 23 years of his immoral and unjust captivity in the hands of our "best ally", the United States of America, because we are believing Jews.

As believing Jews, we believe that:

  • G-d runs the world.
  • Human beings have free will.

  • Nothing is coincidence

    ; and everything that occurs, for good or for evil, is infinitely meaningful.
  • Nothing is morally neutral.

    Every word, action or deed either adds to the holiness (wholeness) of the world, or subtracts from it.
  • For every cause there is an effect.

    Every action we perform, every word we speak, every thought we think has profound influence in the cosmic realm and causes a return of similar energy to us from the divine source.
  • Reward and punishment is not only individual, but also national and global.

    In other words, our input (words, deeds, actions) determines the divine output that returns to us, to our families, to our communities, to our nation and to the world.
  • Cosmic response is not always immediate or obvious.

    The cosmic effect of our actions may be immediate, or may take generations to manifest. It may also manifest in a frame of reference that appears totally unlike the original.
  • Every single human being is ultimately accountable before the Heavenly Court.

    Excuses such as "I did not know", "I did not have time"; "I did not have money" and so on, are not relevant to the Heavenly Court.

    I alone cannot save my husband, Jonathan Pollard. Neither can you. Only G-d can. And G-d can, in spite of Ehud Olmert, and in spite of Ehud Barak and in spite of Rafi Eitan and a host of others in the government and at the Ministry of Defense who - for their own self-serving reasons- do not want Jonathan home. They want him dead, G-d forbid!

    But we, the Jewish People, have to deserve Jonathan's redemption. Jonathan's redemption is OUR redemption. It is the key to stopping all of the abandonments that have occurred since Jonathan was abandoned by Israel, and all of the abandonments that continue to this day. We have to deserve G-d's intervention to stop the desecration of His name and His people that this case represents. We have to be worthy of His miracles. But are we?

    For 23 years, the State of Israel and the Jewish people around the world have watched as the American Justice System is slowly, systematically, mercilessly crushing the life out of Jonathan Pollard. The State of Israel and the Jewish leaders have witnessed, time and time again, as enemies of the Jewish People have scorned Jonathan, held him up to ridicule, and excoriated him, accusing him of crimes he never committed and was never indicted for - as a way of attacking Israel and the Jewish people. In 23 years, the State of Israel has never once taken any action to defend its own honor by defending Jonathan. American Jewish leaders have taken the lead from Israel and just turned their back. The anti-Semites in American officialdom who exploit Jonathan's plight to advance an anti-Israel agenda have never been fooled. They understand that Jewish silence in the face of the on-going brutalization of one of their own, is really Jewish weakness, and they relish it!

    For 23 years the US penal system has dealt with Jonathan in the harshest manner possible, relating to him as nothing more than a common felon. Israel never bothered to communicate to the US that Jonathan is an Israeli agent and that Israel intends to seek his release. In 23 years, Israel has never once made an official request to the US for Jonathan's release. Worse, Israel has never made an HONEST attempt to secure Jonathan's release.

    I can hear your protests: but what about Bibi and Wye!? Let's not get all hung up about what occurred at Wye in 1998. The bottom line is that Israel secured Jonathan's release at Wye, not so much for Jonathan's sake, but as a justification for releasing 750 Palestinian murderers and terrorists with blood on their hands. This was the first time in Israel's history that murderers with blood on their hands were released. Israel paid the price for Jonathan's release but never collected its due. So 750 murderers went free but Jonathan remained in prison. Neither the Prime Minister at the time, Bibi Netanyahu, nor any Prime Minister of Israel since then has ever opened his mouth to demand that the US finally honor its end of the deal. Of course not.

    Instead, G-d looks down from Heaven, and what does He see? A slew of Israeli Ministers - Ephraim Sneh, Gidon Ezra, Fuad Ben Eliezer and others - vowing to release a captive; pledging their support and their political capital to free a captive whom they respect and envision as a great leader. The captive? Marwan Barghouti - a mass murderer who is serving 5 consecutive life sentences plus 40 years for his role in the murder of Israeli civilians! In the 23 years of Jonathan's incarceration not one of these fervent Barghouti-loving ministers has ever declared his determination or support for the release of Jonathan Pollard, who did not murder a single soul, who loved and served the State of Israel, and saved her from her enemies.

    Surely the Heavens weep!

    Two weeks ago the man who runs the country which is holding Jonathan captive came to visit us here in the Holy Land. He arrived on a Wednesday and after a whirlwind of activities, gala receptions and obsequious speeches, he sat down on Thursday night to a working dinner with the Prime Minster of Israel, 8 prominent Cabinet Ministers and the entire 'who's who' of the Israeli defense intelligence establishment. If you were to hand-pick a dream team to meet with the President of the United States to negotiate the release of a captive after 23 years in captivity, you could not have chosen a better group than the one that met with Bush that night. Even more compelling: you could not have chosen better timing! It is highly unlikely that any one of the ministers who attended that dinner will ever see Bush again face to face before he leaves office. And it is certain, that they will never again in their lives see him as a cohesive group. So what did they do with this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity?

    Prime Minister Ehud Olmert immediately declared that the ONLY forbidden subject, the only subject that could not be brought up with President Bush at that meeting was? You guessed it! The plight of Jonathan Pollard! And was there a peep of protest from any the ministers? Did even a single minister open his mouth and say, "No way! We're not going to get another kick at the can! It is now or never! You can keep quiet if you wish, but not me! I am not going to shut my mouth now, not as long as America is still holding our man hostage!"

    President George W. Bush heard a lot of concerns that night. But the man who holds Jonathan fate in his hands, the man who could free him in a second with the stroke of a pen, did not hear a single expression of concern for Pollard that night.

    Do you know why Olmert forbid talk of Pollard at the working dinner with President Bush? Have you figured it out yet?

    Olmert insists that as soon as Bush arrived in Israel on Wednesday, he immediately asked the President to free Pollard, and he claims that Bush refused. So without skipping a beat, Olmert quickly conveyed the news to Yediot Achronot where it appeared in the paper on Thursday morning. Olmert told Yediot: I asked; Bush said no; so enough about Pollard!

    Now, if it were truly the case, that Bush had already refused to free Pollard, what difference could it possibly make to Olmert whether or not Jonathan's name were mentioned to Bush at dinner on Thursday night? In fact, if Bush had - as Olmert claims - refused to free Pollard, wouldn't it be good for Bush to hear from ALL of the ministers how important it is for him to reconsider? So why did Olmert forbid mentioning Pollard?

    Here's the real reason. It's simple! Olmert did not want the President to find out that the Prime Minister had already informed the Israeli press that Bush had refused to free Pollard; when in fact, the issue had never been raised! Incredible, isn't it? Bush knew NOTHING about his alleged refusal to free Pollard and Olmert did not want anyone at the dinner that night to tell him! No, this is not a joke. Unfortunately, we have been able to confirm this at the highest levels.

    This is of course the point at which, you are thinking, 'So what, the responsibility for Pollard is not yours and mine anyway! After all, the Knesset has just taken a formal decision to investigate the handling of the Pollard Case by successive governments of Israel to see what went wrong. Let them handle it!'

    Friends, let's not be naive. A bogus investigation by the State Comptroller is a fig leaf for the Government of Israel and of no use to Jonathan Pollard who is sitting in prison waiting for the rescue team to arrive. There is a time to investigate and time to save a life. Now is the time to save Jonathan's life. To bring him home. When Jonathan is home in Jerusalem and out of harm's way, they can investigate to their heart's content!

    By the way, a sure sign that this investigation is bogus, is the fact that the State Comptroller has committed to keep his report and all of his findings CLASSIFIED. In so doing, the State Comptroller and the Knesset State Control Committee have virtually assured the very officials who bungled this affair for 23 years (The Prime Minister's Office and the Ministry of Defense) that they have nothing to fear because no matter what comes out of the investigation, neither the public nor Pollard will ever know - because all of the findings will be CLASSIFIED!

    So where does that leave us?

    This may come as a shock to you, but you and I are - in the eyes of Heaven - eye witnesses. We are all eye-witnesses to 23 years of attempted murder. Twenty-three years of captivity. Twenty-three years of torture and affliction, and twenty-three years of Jonathan Pollard's being publicly scorned and defamed in order to scorn and defame us. There is no one here today, in this room, or in this country, or in this world, who is not going to have to give an account of what he or she did or did not do, to the best of his/her ability, to save Jonathan Pollard while there was still time. To stop the chillul HaShem (the desecration of G-d's name). To rein in the evil of our leadership (for whom it would be so much more convenient if Pollard would just die already and leave us alone!)

    With all due respect to those who wish us well and support our efforts, I am weary of comments about my courage and my efforts and good wishes in my struggle. I am heartsick at the blindness of our People who see Jonathan as my struggle, and as a minor side issue for the rest of the Jewish world. A problem indeed, a tragedy no less, and such a shame, but what can you do, they say, we have bigger fish to fry at the moment. It is this kind of thinking that is doing us in as a nation and as a People. How much longer will we keep our eyes closed to the reality that now threatens the entire nation?

    The line of causation which connects the abandonment of Jonathan Pollard to all abandonments which followed and to all of the abandonments now occurring - up to and including the threat to the very integrity of the Holy City of Jerusalem - is so obvious that it is blinding!

    When the Jewish people permitted our so-called leadership to abandon Jonathan Pollard, Heaven responded by amplifying the message for us, to try to wake us up. On the heels of Jonathan's abandonment, came the abandonment of our MIAs and captives in the field; followed by the abandonment of the SLA collaborators; and the abandonment of Mudhat Yousef, a soldier who was left to bleed to death at Kever Yosef. Then came the abandonment of the People of Gush Katif and the Northern Shomron (most of whom remain in dire straits today); and then abandonment of the soldiers and the people of the North during the Second Lebanon War (which itself began with the abandonment of the 3 kidnapped soldiers); and of course the long, on-going abandonment of the people of Sderot, who are still taking a daily pounding by rockets and missiles while we go on with our own day to day lives! How much longer can we keep saying, "What a shame, but what can you do?" How much longer will we try the patience of Heaven? How many more miracles can we expect, without reaping the rewards of our own pitiful response to this life and death situation?

    I believe that Jonathan is the key to the fundamental moral rectification of which Israel is sorely in need. His abandonment lies at the heart of all of the abandonments that followed and of all of the abandonments which are on-going today. His abandonment is the root cause of all the others, and it is the place where the tikun (rectification) has to start.

    Every single person in this room, in this city, in this country, and in the Jewish world has something to contribute to the struggle for Justice for Jonathan Pollard, which is ultimately the struggle for Justice for the Jewish People. No one has the right or the luxury to absolve him/herself of the absolute value of arevut hadadeet (mutual responsibility for each other) that devolves upon the Jewish People.

    First and foremost, there needs to be a public awakening to the truth about Pollard and the direct line of causation that joins his fate to our own, both individually and nationally. There must be a complete educational overhaul and change of attitude, so that everyone from the man in the street to the organizational leadership will stop dismissing the issue of Jonathan Pollard, as something marginal and always unimportant at the moment. There also has to be a clear message sent to the political echelon that Pollard is the issue of the day, and a leader who does not get it, won't be a leader for long.

    Jonathan is the opportunity that HaShem gave to us to redeem ourselves. Jonathan is, as his name suggests, Yeho - natan (literally: "G-d has given" but more essentially: "G-d's gift"). Jonathan is an amazing man, who has withstood torture and affliction and 23 years of abandonment with dignity and with grace. What he has been through and what he continues to live through would have broken a lesser man, years ago. G-d has given us this gift, this special man, this man so head-and-shoulders above the rest, that he has been able to hold on for all these years to be there for us, as a symbol of G-d's grace and G-d's will, so that we might save ourselves! To ignore Pollard is to do so at our own peril.

    G-d has given us the opportunity to unite around an issue that is absolutely vital to the essence of our being as a nation and as People of the Book, the mitzvah of Pidyan Shvuyim. By redeeming Jonathan, ultimately we shall redeem ourselves. If we start by solving the problem at the root, the rest will follow. Just as surely as goodness and blessing will follow correcting the root of the problem, the opposite is equally guaranteed to us if we continue to ignore it. For our own sakes, we dare not turn away. We dare not remain silent any longer.

    The most immediate place to start, right now, today, is with prayer. Lots and lots of prayer. Constant prayer. Prayer that finally understands that none of us are going to make it, if Jonathan doesn't. Prayer that will shake the Heavens and storm the Earth! Prayer that leads to concrete action! Wake up your family! Wake up your friends! Wake up the organizations you belong to! Wake up the leadership! Wake up the Jewish People all over the world! The house is on fire! We must act now!

    It will take all of our resources and the ferverent prayers of every single one of us to save Jonathan Pollard and along with him, the whole House of Israel.