INN: Rabbi Lerner: 'Money Trail Might Provide Answers'

Hillel Fendel - IsraelNationalNews - April 8, 2008


Rabbi Pesach Lerner, Executive Vice President of the National Council of Young Israel and a long-time activist on behalf of Jonathan Pollard, agrees with Pollard that the "money trail" may lead to clues as to why the government has botched the job of attaining his release from prison.

Rabbi Lerner spoke with's Yishai Fleisher this week about Pollard, who is serving his 23rd year of a

life prison sentence

for passing classified information to Israel. "Pollard did not pass any information having to do with other agents," Rabbi Lerner said, "but just information that should have gone to Israel in any event, on matters that could have been dangerous to Israel and on the capabilities of our enemies."

"During the Gulf War in Iraq," Lerner said, "Israel started handing out gas masks; from where did they get five million gas masks all of a sudden? The answer is that Jonathan had warned them that Iraq had gas-weapon capabilities - and Israel was prepared, because Jonathan sacrificed his life to save the State of Israel."

Fleisher noted that actually, "he didn't need to sacrifice his life, because Israel could have stood up for him and demanded his release; he's sitting in prison much longer than anyone who has committee that type of crime."

Lindenstrauss and Olmert

Rabbi Lerner discussed the recent flare-up involving the investigation by State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss into why Israel has failed to attain Pollard's release: "Lindenstrauss had been instructed by the Knesset to investigate the matter, and he did so - quietly and systematically. All of a sudden, last week, Lindenstrauss read in the papers that government sources were accusing him of sabotaging efforts to have Pollard released! He of course demanded to know how this suddenly came about..."

Lindenstrauss implied - and Knesset Control Committee Chairman MK Zevulun Orlev said openly - that it was Prime Minister Olmert himself who sought to undermine the investigation, or Lindenstrauss, or both.

Follow the Money!

Rabbi Lerner has his own explanation - backed by Jonathan Pollard himself -as to what caused the sudden attack on Lindenstrauss:

"The background is that over the past several months, people have been writing to the Prime Minister on behalf of Pollard, and time after time, the Prime Minister has responded that the government has been helping the Pollards financially and in other ways. The problem is, though, that it's not true at all.

"The Pollards went to the Supreme Court, saying, 'If the government is giving us money, can you show us a copy of a check? Can you show us where the money went? We haven't seen any of it.' The State then responded that it cannot answer those questions because 'it would hurt our efforts to release him.' I would love to know what these efforts are...

"Now, with the government claiming that it's been giving him money, and with the Pollards not having received any of it, it could be that someone began to fear that Lindenstrauss would start looking for this money - and maybe even find something! It's just speculation at this point, but as Jonathan has been saying, someone has to start looking at the money trail!"

Pollard to Lindenstrauss: Keep Up the Good Work!

Pollard himself wrote a reassuring letter last week to Judge Lindenstrauss, asking him to proceed in his investigation without fear. Pollard wrote that the reports of "anonymous government officials accus[ing] you of 'torpedoing delicate efforts' to secure my release [are] NOT about efforts to secure my release. Nor is this attack (as MK Orlev suggested) political revenge by Olmert against you. It is about MONEY!"

Pollard noted that he had earlier sent a letter to Olmert asking him to "account for 23 years of funds that have apparently been misappropriated and illegally reallocated... I asked the Prime Minister why his office insists on disseminating lies saying that my wife, I and my associates are receiving full financial support from the government, when in fact we have never received a single cent from the Government of Israel in the 23 years that I have been in prison. If the Government claims it is allocating resources for me and my wife, but we have never received the money, then who is getting the money?"

Between Olmert and Bush

Pollard also wrote, "Allow me to reassure you one more time: your investigation of the Israeli Government's handling of the Pollard case cannot torpedo efforts to secure my release. There are no efforts to secure my release. One man and one man alone can free me - George Bush; and one man has to make the official request for my release - Ehud Olmert. Our sources in Washington confirm that Olmert has not asked for my release. [See full text of Pollard's letter to Lindenstrauss.]

In Time For Passover

"I can be home in time for Passover," Pollard's letter states. "The only thing standing in the way of my immediate release is that Olmert's unwillingness to have me home is well known to the President. The rumors that Bush will free me as a gesture to Israel either for the 60th anniversary or at the end of his term are unfounded. Bush will not make a gesture to Israel which Israel has not asked for and which the PM does not want!"

Rabbi Lerner, who has visited Pollard many times in prison, said, "He is is very well-versed and informed on current events. He reads books, knows a lot, and he's very bright. I have said that when he gets out, he should travel the country and give lectures on Judaism, and on the meaning of self-sacrifice... He is a joy to be with, and it's a miracle that he is this way even after 23 years, under the difficult conditions that he has faced... Last year, on the [week-long] Passover holiday he was allowed only one box of matza for the whole holiday... People should keep on praying for Yehonatan ben [son of] Malkah, and talk about him. People have to be informed..."

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