Thousands Demand Release of Israeli Agent on Eve of Bush Visit

Hillel Fendel - - May 13, 2008

Monday evening in Jerusalem: Thousands of people yelled, sang, held signs, protested and demanded the release of Jonathan Pollard from US prison. The hope was even mentioned that US President George W. Bush would bring Pollard with him when he arrives in Israel on Wednesday.

At the same time, three Pollard letters were in the news: One written by 13 former Prisoners of Zion to Bush, asking him to pardon Pollard and ensure that he does not die in prison; one by the young winner of the International Bible Contest to Prime Minister Olmert, and a third by Pollard himself and his wife Esther, praising the young Bible scholar for her actions.

Jonathan Pollard is well into his

23rd year of a life sentence

with no possibility of parole for passing classified information to a United States ally - Israel. He is the only person in the history of the United States to receive a life sentence for spying for an American ally. The median sentence for this offense is 2-4 years.

The data in question included information about Iraq's offensive weapons capabilities.

Monday's protest began when dozens of Pollard activists formed a human chain outside the U.S. Consulate in downtown Jerusalem. Shortly afterwards, thousands began to gather in Freedom for Jonathan Pollard Square - also known as Paris Square - between the Prime Minister's residence and the Great Synagogue. Among the speakers were Esther Pollard, Jonathan's long-time lawyer Larry Dubb, activist organizer Nissan Gan-Or, Yosef Mendlevitch, Shifra Hoffman, Atty. Nitzana Darshan-Leitner, Nadia Matar and Moshe Feiglin. Popular Israeli singer Ariel Zilber, whose appearances at right-wing events over the past several years have harmed his career, and folk singer Ari Ben-Yam performed original songs on behalf of Pollard.

Letter to Bible Champ

The Pollards wrote a letter of congratulations to International Bible Quiz winner Tzurit Berenson, who capped off her victory last Thursday by asking Prime Minister Olmert to secure Pollard's release. The 15-year-old winner handed Olmert a letter that she and her two runners-up had written, asking the Prime Minister to do all he could to have US President Bush pardon Pollard.

"The eyes of the Nation were upon you, in your moment of victory," the Pollards wrote. "In that moment, you gave honor to HaShem [G-d] and to His Torah. In that moment, you took your learning and used it the way that it was intended, not for mere scholarship or trivia, but for action! Ashreinu Yisrael! Fortunate are we, the People of Israel, to have such a model of righteousness in our midst! Fortunate are we to have you as a model of Torah-true action!"

Ex-Refuseniks Warn Bush

The letter by the Prisoners of Zion to Bush was written in a particularly strong tone, warning the President that "if, G-d forbid, Pollard should die in prison, complex questions will remain unanswered which may permanently damage the reputation and affect the conscience of America."

The 13 signatories - former prisoners of conscience in the USSR- wrote that the price they paid for standing up to oppression was nothing near what Jonathan Pollard has paid: "Our principle of identifying with our brethren and with Israel, with justice, freedom and the battle against obvious and veiled antisemitism took a toll of many years of imprisonment in the Soviet Union. However, none of us even came close to the period of imprisonment of a quarter of a century as is taking place in your country, in the case of Jonathan Pollard."

The 13 also made the point that Pollard alone, among all those who spied against the US for the Soviet Union and other enemies during a critical period in history, remains in prison:

"Pollard was active in a period that the evil Soviet empire of cruelty, espionage and world subversion was at its peak. Every clear-thinking person can ask himself: Is there any agent of this horrible and hostile power that remains in an American prison? We all know the answer: Nyet!

"Has anyone who operated against the USA during that period on behalf of any foreign intelligence service whatsoever been punished with such severity as Pollard? Again, we all know the answer: Nyet!

"Therefore, the question arises regarding the discrimination against Pollard, which cries out to the heavens. He exposed the ominous secrets of Iraq, not of the USA, in order to save Israel, a country friendly to America (the only democratic, bona fide and reliable friend in the Middle East). So why is he loathed more than any true enemy? Why is he treated in such a brutal manner? Why and for what reason has there been such a travesty of injustice? Is it his Jewish origins or his devotion to Israel that is the cause of this treatment?

"Is there really equality before the law in the United States of America, or are there people of lesser value than others?"

The Prisoners of Zion then once again alluded to the danger that Pollard might die in prison unless Bush takes action:

"You, Mr. President, have the power now to correct this injustice - but only as long as two flames remain: the flame of the life of Jonathan Pollard and the flame of your term of office. You have the opportunity to pardon Pollard and enter the history books as the one who removed this dark stain on the conscience of your country. This is an act of benevolence of the highest order, appropriate for the President of the greatest world power, who supposedly stands for the struggle against world evil.

"We urge you to respond in a positive manner to the call of the conscience of freedom-loving people."

Signed on the letter are Ida Nudel, Yosef Mendelevich, Silva Zalmanson, and ten others who paid for their devotion to Israel with time in Soviet prisons.

See Also: