Saying Goodbye to Father

Op-ed: Pollard has been treated inhumanely for long years; at least let him see his father now

Sima Kadmon - YNET - June 17, 2011

If Jonathan Pollard's 95-year old father, Professor Morris Pollard, is still alive as these words are being written, then that would mean that the struggle to enable the son to visit his father in the hospital is on-going.

Professor Morris Pollard's situation is so critical that the letter sent to the Director of the Bureau of prisons by Jonathan Pollard's attorney yesterday asks that if Jonathan will not make it in time to see his father alive, then at least he should be allowed to attend the funeral.

It is impossible to overstate the inhumane elements of this story. After 26 years in prison, even though ever-increasing numbers of senior officials in the United States admit that Pollard has been unfairly treated and that there is no justification for his extended incarceration - Pollard continues to be held captive.

After all the years that Jonathan's elderly father was tormented by false hopes of being able to see his son a free man - and at the end of his life, even for just one moment - Professor Morris Pollard will not be able to see his son even in his final hours on earth.

Not long ago, Professor Pollard said in an interview that he doesn't sleep nights because of the injustice done to his son. He spoke about Jonathan's life sentence as an extraordinary miscarriage of justice. "I still wake up at nights after imagining myself fighting with others, defending my son's innocence," he said.

Pollard's family has now turned to Jewish organizations and members of Congress in order to appeal to Obama urgently and ask him to permit this last, final visit. As well, members of Israel's Knesset have also submitted a petition to VP Biden via House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner, asking him to take urgent action in order to facilitate the visit.

Ball in Obama's court

We should remember that when Pollard's mother passed away, Jonathan was not allowed to visit her before her death or to attend her funeral.

The Committee to Bring Jonathan Pollard Home has also appealed to Israeli President Shimon Peres and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, asking them to intervene. The answer received from both offices was that they are in touch with each other about the issue.

The Committee is trying to tread carefully - if they say what they really feel, that the president and prime minister of Israel are not doing anything, then this might provide ammunition for the American president. After all, if even the Israelis are not pressing for compassionate leave for Pollard, then why should he take action?

In any case, it is clear that the ball is in Obama's court - while Pollard, at this point, has simply been abandoned.

Here in Israel, a prisoner who assassinated the prime minister was allowed to father a child while in prison, whereas in the United States, Pollard was not even allowed to see his mother when she was dying.

At least, let him say goodbye to his father.

Bio note: The author, Sima Kadmon, is the senior political columnist for Yediot Achronot. The original article appeared in Hebrew today in the print edition of Yediot.

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