Transcript: Interview with Esther Pollard on Galei Tzahal (IDF) Radio
Source: Galei Tzahal Radio - June 17, 2014
Esther Pollard was interviewed in Hebrew by Niv Raskin on IDF Radio (Galatz), 17 June 2014 following her visits to the three families of the kidnapped teens, Eyal Yifrach, Gil-Ad Shaer and Naftali Fraenkel. Raskin expanded the interview with Esther to inquire about the health and fate of her husband, Jonathan Pollard. The interview opened the morning show following the 8 am news report. The following is a transcript of Esther Pollard's interview translated to English by J4JP.
GALATZ: Good morning to Esther Pollard, the wife of Jonathan Pollard
ESTHER: Good morning!
GALATZ: Esther, what made you go visit the families? Was it your idea? Or was it Jonathan's?
ESTHER: Jonathan very much wanted me to go and visit them. To tell you the truth, I was very hesitant. I was not convinced that it was the right thing to do. I was concerned that a visit might be intrusive and that perhaps this was not the right time. But Jonathan really insisted. It was very important to him. He was certain that this was the right thing to do. And as it turned out, he was right. He was simply right!
GALATZ: How was the meeting?
ESTHER: I met with each of the families separately in their own homes. If any one of the meetings had been outstanding or extraordinary, that would have been impressive enough, but each family that I met with was outstanding, and each visit was extraordinary! It was amazing to meet such special people!
Each family was very different but what they shared in common was their strong faith and trust in Hashem; their appreciation and thankfulness towards the government and the Israel defense forces; and their love and appreciation for the Israeli public which has been so very supportive. Not only that, but the way that they received me so warmly with open arms was really amazing - each of the families - almost as if it had been coordinated between them. But they never spoke with each other, they live miles apart, and none of them were even expecting me.
GALATZ: What do you say to people like this at such a meeting? There is such a sense of shared fate, a terrible, terrible shared fate between the man who is closest to you, and between the families and their loved ones, who until a few moments ago, you had never even met them. Suddenly you are sharing such an intimate moment, what do you say to them?
ESTHER: I felt - and again, this too was so amazing, I felt with each of the families, that we came together as if we were indeed family. And I don't think --- I was asked repeatedly by media if Jonathan and I feel as if we are partners with the families in sharing sorrow - and I responded that I don't thing we are partners with them any more so than the rest of the Israeli public. Everyone in Israel is sharing this nightmare. Everyone cares. Everyone is hurting. Everyone wants them home.
GALATZ: Esther, how is Jonathan doing these days?
ESTHER: A difficult situation. He is having a very difficult time. His health continues to deteriorate. Not long ago he had an operation having to do with his kidneys, but the problem continues. It is very worrisome. He is suffering badly from Diabetes, and with respiratory problems. A lot of health problems because of the harsh conditions, and the lack of proper nutrition and medical care. It's a very difficult situation. And added to that, the great disappointment he experienced recently when he finally was shown the door, but before he ever got to walk through it, the door was slammed in his face.
GALATZ: Do you feel that you are hearing or experiencing a different Jonathan when you speak with him these days? Do sense that you are talking with someone who used to be so strong and optimistic, but is now a broken man?
ESTHER: If they have not succeeded in breaking Jonathan after all these years, first of all, it is a miracle, and secondly, with G-d's help, they will not succeed. He is a very special man - one of a kind. This is what really overwhelmed the families I visited with yesterday. They couldn't believe that Jonathan, who is in such dire straits himself, could care so much about them, and be so worried and so concerned for them! He is the kind of person who cannot sit with his hands folded at times like this. He has to do something to help.
GALATZ: Tell me, is there a reason for your optimism? Just recently, the Americans were about to free Jonathan any minute, then suddenly they pulled him off the table completely.
ESTHER: He was never pulled off the table. The talks collapsed. Nevertheless, what is really important here, is that as long as there was no reason - legally or from a security point of view - to prevent Jonathan from being released as bargaining chip, then there is also no reason to prevent him from being released as gesture to our president, Shimon Peres, on compassionate and humanitarian grounds, as his term in office ends.
President Peres is going to the US next week to meet with President Obama, and as I just indicated, given that there was no reason to prevent Jonathan from being released as a bargaining chip, then, G-d willing, there is no reason to prevent him from being released as a gesture. I very much hope and pray that President Peres will be successful.
We have an online petition at PollardNow.org which has already been signed by 30 or 40 thousand people, encouraging President Peres to bring Jonathan home. A few months ago, President Peres said that he would do everything before his term in office ends to bring Jonathan home. We really want to encourage him. We ask all of the listeners to sign the petition. We have an opportunity now for success. Again, the petition is at PollardNow.org
GALATZ: Esther, do you see the possible formation of a deal, the release of [terrorist] prisoners for the kidnapped boys where Jonathan might also, one way or another, be included in it? To help the Prime Minister to present such difficult deal to the Israeli public? After all, we hope that any moment now, such a deal will again be on the table.
ESTHER: Jonathan must be released. He must be released for compassionate and humanitarian reasons. He must be released to save his life. He does not deserve to die in prison for his service to Israel. He has to be released. I am not going to get into politics or diplomatic deals. There are enough good reasons, legally, why he should be released. G-d willing, we will succeedbefore it is too late.
GALATZ: Do you see a way that it is really possible to link Jonathan's release to the current issue of the kidnapped boys?
ESTHER: We are all one nation. We are all in the same boat. There is no reason to link Jonathan to anything.
GALATZ: You know, it was just a few months ago that Jonathan made it very clear - and you mentioned it in an interview - that Jonathan did not want to be released as part of a deal to free terrorists. Is it because of his failing health that he has removed his opposition to such a deal? Because there is no choice?
ESTHER: No. I did not say he is no longer opposed. No sane person wants to be traded for the release of murderers and terrorists. But don't forget, who is Jonathan, anyway? No one asks Jonathan what he thinks. He is a bargaining chip. His opinion doesn't count. As a bargaining chip, they will use him as they wish. Nevertheless, to this very day, Jonathan remains opposed to the release of murderers and terrorists.
GALATZ: That's clear. Esther Pollard, wife of Jonathan Pollard, thank you for speaking with us this morning.
ESTHER: Thank you.
See Also: JPost Feature: Esther Pollard reflects on her visit to the families of the kidnapped teens