By Esther Pollard, Jonathanpollard.org
My husband, Jonathan Pollard, is an Israeli agent in captivity, currently completing his 25th year of a life sentence for his service to the security of the State of Israel.
Jonathan is the only person in the history of the US to receive a life sentence for spying for an ally. The median sentence for this offense is 2 to four years. Jonathan is currently serving his 25th year of a life sentence, with no end in sight.
Jonathan did not commit treason. Treason is defined by the US Constitution as “serving an enemy state in time of war”. Israel is not an enemy and the 2 countries are not at war.
Jonathan was charged with the lesser of the espionage statutes: 1 count of conspiracy to commit espionage with no intent to harm the US.
The information that Jonathan provided to Israel included Iranian, Iraqi, Libyan and Syrian nuclear, chemical, and biological warfare capabilities – all being developed for use against Israel. He also provided information on ballistic missile development by these countries and information on up-coming terrorist attacks planned against Israeli civilian targets.
Israel was legally entitled to this vital security information according to a 1983 Memorandum of Understanding signed by both countries. But the information was deliberately being withheld from Israel as the result of an illegal intelligence embargo implemented by former Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger and former Deputy Director of the CIA Admiral Bobby Ray Inman, whose pro-Arab tilt did not jibe with declared US foreign policy.
In the beginning Jonathan volunteered his services and only later did he become a bona fide agent on behalf of the State of Israel. His zeal to save Israeli lives was his sole motivation. Even the sentencing judge – who was no friend of the case – recognized that Jonathan was an ideologue, not a mercenary, and therefore declined to impose a monetary fine.
From the time that Jonathan was first arrested in 1985, Israel denied all ties to him, and cooperated fully with the American prosecution to secure a life sentence for him.
For its own shameful reasons the American Jewish leadership endorsed and perpetuated Israel’s lies. On March 10, 1987 – six days after my husband was sentenced to Life in complete violation of a plea agreement which Jonathan honored and the US abrogated – the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations sent a letter to the US State Department promising never to interfere on his behalf. The Conference has kept that promise with religious zeal. (A copy of their letter, obtained via a Freedom of Information Act request, appears on our web site.)
Despite the passage of 25 years and innumerable opportunities, Israel’s lies continue to govern this case, and effectively to keep Jonathan in prison.
Israel cravenly handed over to the US all of the evidence that was used against Jonathan. Without this evidence, the US had no case, and would have been forced to set him free.
In betraying Jonathan and by handing over the evidence, Israel earned for itself the dishonorable distinction of becoming the first and only country in the history of modern espionage ever to assist in the indictment and prosecution of its own agent!
Israel paid the lawyer who secured a life sentence for Jonathan, without benefit of trial. The median sentence for the offense Jonathan had committed was 2 to 4 year sentence – not Life!
This was the same lawyer, paid by the Government of Israel, who failed to file a simple Notice of Intent to Appeal, forever depriving Jonathan of his right to appeal his Life sentence.
By contrast, to this day Israel has steadfastly refused to pay a cent to the lawyers who, unlike the above-mentioned lawyer, are trying to help Jonathan to secure his release from prison.
Even though Jonathan fought and succeeded in forcing the State of Israel to officially acknowledge him as her agent, the State’s attitude towards him and its resolute abandonment of him has not changed at all in 25 years.
The State of Israel has never taken the most minimal steps – legal, moral, or diplomatic to secure Jonathan’s release.
To this day, Israel has never officially informed the White House, the Justice, Intelligence or State Departments that Jonathan is an Israeli agent and that Israel intends to seek his release. Consequently the American Justice Department continues to regard him only as a common criminal, not as an Israeli agent, and to treat him accordingly.
To this day the State of Israel has never sought the assistance of American congressmen or senators on Jonathan’s case, and for 2 decades it has calculatedly avoided engaging AIPAC or any other effective lobby organization on his behalf.
In 25 years Israel has never done any hasbara for the public in Israel or in the US to explain its position on Jonathan’s case or to promote his release – as it routinely does to explain every other matter of importance to the State.
For 25 years, the State of Israel has deliberately attempted to prevent the Israeli public from knowing about Jonathan. A good indicator of the Government’s attitude towards Jonathan is reflected in the Ministry of Education’s refusal to include his plight in the regular school curriculum. The Ministry of Education Library and Archives (which teachers use for research) contains absolutely no information whatsoever about Jonathan! Not a single reference!
When Jonathan’s former handler, Rafi Eitan, ran for Knesset earlier this year, it put the lie to the Government’s long-standing claim that pressing for Jonathan’s release might somehow damage Israel’s relationship with the US. Indeed the Government of Israel demonstrated no compunction whatsoever about possible damage to US-Israel relations or to Jonathan’s situation when immediately upon his election, it appointed Rafi Eitan as a minister
The Government’s appointment of Eitan as minister was done with the full knowledge that the Americans regard Eitan as an unindicted co-conspirator in the affair and that he had played a key role in the betrayal of Jonathan Pollard, even providing false testimony to the Americans which had doomed Jonathan.
From the time Jonathan was first arrested, the only consistent “plan” Israel has ever had for his release is to bring him home in a coffin. This fact has been confirmed for us over and over again for the last 25 years by various officials and events.
Jonathan miraculously survived the first 7 years of his incarceration in solitary confinement, in barbaric conditions in a dungeon cell 3 stories underground at USP Marion and then waged his own battle – without any help from the State of Israel – to be moved to open population at FCI Butner.
Just shortly after his move to FCI Butner in the spring of 1993, Israel sent a Mossad agent to Jonathan on official business. Instead of presenting Jonathan with a plan for securing his release, the Mossad agent came armed with an official request that Jonathan kill himself. “Committing suicide,” Jonathan was informed, would “solve the Pollard problem” for the State of Israel.
The Israeli policy which wants to bring Jonathan Pollard home in a coffin, G-d forbid, continues to this day, and illuminates the Israeli Government’s calculated consistency in missing every opportunity to secure Jonathan’s release.
Instead, successive Governments of Israel have routinely exploited Jonathan’s name and his plight, using it as a sweetener to sell unpopular unilateral concessions to the Israeli public. But when crunch time comes, Jonathan is always dropped from every deal and painful unilateral concessions to the enemy are made regardless. (Some examples include the Hebron Accords, the Wye Accords, and most recently the Disengagement from Gaza and northern Samaria).
In Washington it is an open secret that Jonathan’s sentence is grossly disproportionate and purely political. This was confirmed in a 2002 interview with former Secretary of Defense, the late Caspar Weinberger. Weinberger openly admitted that Jonathan’s case was a “minor matter” that had been exaggerated out of all proportion to serve another political agenda. The opening that this admission created to secure Jonathan’s release was totally ignored.
As well, James Woolsey, former head of the CIA has repeatedly stated publicly for years that the time has come to free Jonathan Pollard. No response from Israel.
Similarly Dennis Ross, the former US Special Envoy to the Middle East, stated in his book “The Missing Peace” (published in 2004) that Jonathan deserves to be freed unconditionally. Nevertheless, writes Ross, Pollard is far too valuable as a bargaining chip against Israel, so he advised the president at Wye not to release him. Still no response from Israel.
In point of fact, Israel has already “paid” for Jonathan’s release several times over (including freeing 750 murderers and terrorists with blood on their hands as part of the Wye Accords), but has never bothered to collect its due.
In the 25 years that Jonathan has been in prison, he has repeatedly been subjected to cruel and unusual punishment and severe affliction. The Government of Israel has been informed of each and every episode of mistreatment of its agent but has never once intervened on his behalf, nor has the Government ever protested.
Jonathan’s first court appearance in the US in 2 decades took place in the year 2003. Israel did not even bother to send a representative. Instead, on the eve of Jonathan’s court hearing, Israel’s consular representative in New York who was given the task of officially responding to the media, slandered Jonathan on American national television thus sending a clear message to the judge that Jonathan is “hefker” and that no one in Israel cares what is done with him.
Israel’s intent never to bring Jonathan home alive, is reflected in the immoral and mean-spirited way that the State relates to me, his wife.
As the wife of an Israeli agent, the fact that I remain homeless and penniless speaks volumes about the State’s attitude towards Jonathan.
Compare this with the case of an Israeli drug dealer, a family friend of a Prime Minister, who was taken captive while pursuing his own illicit interests, and not in the service of the State. Both his wife and his mistress and their two respective families received full support for the duration of his captivity. I on the other hand, receive no help whatsoever and am dependent for my survival on the kindness of a few friends.
Worse still, the Government brazenly lies to the Supreme Court and to the Israeli public when it repeatedly claims to be supporting Jonathan and me financially. We presented documented proof to State Comptroller Judge Micha Lindenstrauss that in 25 years, neither Jonathan nor I have ever received a cent from the Government of Israel.
The bottom line is that for 25 years, the State of Israel has stubbornly denied granting Jonathan any status that would bring him or his wife any assistance, or relief, or the possibility of securing his release.
Even though Jonathan fought for and obtained official recognition as an agent, his name does not appear on the Ministry of Defense’s list of captives, thus depriving him of all of his rights as an agent in captivity.
The State also refuses to grant him status as a Prisoner of Zion, again depriving him of any rights that might accrue and, more importantly, depriving him of the protections this status would afford him. By denying Jonathan status within the official framework governed by the Ministry of Defense (as a Shavui); or by the Internal Affairs Ministry (as a PoZ); the State of Israel has relegated Jonathan to the status of a person who does not officially exist and who therefore, can effectively be ignored to death.
Also, add your signature to a letter of support for Esther Pollard, Jonathan’s wife. Show her Christian Zionists are standing with her for Pollard’s release!