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Daily Israel Report

Pollard Is Inspiration For Today´s Youth

Some 10,000 people took part in a vibrant rally on behalf of Jonathan Pollard last night in Jerusalem. "Israeli youth see Pollard as a hero," former Soviet refusenik Yosef Mendlevitch said, "and his self-sacrifice is their inspiration in their struggle today."

First Publish: 9/22/2003, 10:58 AM

Some 10,000 people - some reports said 20,000 - took part in a vibrant and positive demonstration on behalf of Jonathan Pollard last night in downtown Jerusalem. Public figures such as former Soviet refusenik Yosef Mendlevitch and MKs Tzvi Hendel and Uri Ariel graced the stage together with musicians such as Lenny Solomon, Aharon Raz'el, Reva L'Sheva, and many others.

Thousands of teenagers attended the event, most of whom were not born when Pollard was imprisoned. "Israeli youth see Pollard as a hero," Mendlevitch said, "and his self-sacrifice is their inspiration to struggle for the Land of Israel."

"There are those who tonight are celebrating a decade of Oslo and 80 years of Peres," MK Uri Ariel said. "But here we have thousands of youth whom the nation should be proud of, who are concerned for Pollard and who don't have time for personal and irrelevant celebrations."

"This wasn't your usual heavy, intensive, speech-filled right-wing demonstration," said Arutz-7's Tamar Yonah. "It was just people enjoying themselves, knowing they were here for a good cause, in a very positive and upbeat atmosphere. People continued to come from all over throughout the evening because of the music."

"Whether you agree with Pollard or not," said another observer, "he put his career on the line for the People of Israel."

Pollard was imprisoned in the United States for spying for Israel nearly 18 years ago. The Israeli government has recognized him as an Israeli agent, and, in fact, he stealthily obtained information on Israel's enemies that the U.S. was supposed to give to the Jewish State openly under existing bilateral agreements. Rabbi Mendlevitch, who was imprisoned in the Soviet Union for nine years and who is now a staunch supporter of the campaign to free Pollard, said, "It is an unbelievable travesty that he has been in jail for 18 years. I don't know how he can take it. But solidarity is the key. When I was in prison, just the knowledge that the People of Israel were not forgetting me filled me with strength."

Performing on a professional stage, replete with sound and light show and two huge video monitors, the artists performed their own special songs written expressly for Jonathan Pollard, as well as their current popular hits. There were also news film clips of Esther and Jonathan Pollard set to music and their images constantly flashed across the video monitors in harmony with the music.

The driving force and chief organizer of the event, Eli Joseph of Maaleh Adumim, spoke live with Pollard's wife Esther, who was visiting her husband in North Carolina, and he relayed her words to the crowd in real time.

Mendlevitch said that the demonstration would prove to be a source of strength not only for Pollard, but for all of American Jewry: "Our solidarity for Jonathan passes through the Divine pathways not only to him, but to all Jews in America - giving us the strength to redeem Jonathan and all the Jews there and to bring them to Israel. I am planning to write to Jonathan that he must continue to hold on and continue his struggle, because all the thousands of people who gathered here tonight, mainly youth, look up to him as a model and an example, and they are headed towards showing the same dedication... His self-sacrifice is their inspiration to struggle for the Land of Israel."

It works both ways, however. Mendlevitch: "Tourism Minister Benny Elon told me that when he asked Prime Minister Sharon to try to have Pollard released, Sharon told him that the 'weak can't demand from the strong.' Unfortunately, the military [man] Arik Sharon sees himself in this manner, and this approach certainly affects other things that he does. But here at this rally, we are not 'weak.' All those who are here know that we have a great strength - because we have the power of faith and the connection to previous generations."

Many of the participants said that the government is not doing enough to bring about Pollard's release largely because of the fear of treading on U.S. toes.