A special mid-summer recess Knesset session next week will be highlighted by a discussion of ways in which the release of Jonathan Pollard might be attained.
Jonathan Pollard is serving a life sentence without possibility of parole in a US prison for passing classified information to a US ally. The data in question included information about Iraq's offensive weapons capabilities. Pollard is the only person in the history of the United States to receive a life sentence for spying for an American ally. Despite the fact that the median sentence for this offence is 2 to 4 years, Pollard is well into his 19th year of his life sentence.
Pro-Pollard activists spent the past week bombarding Knesset Members of all parties with phone calls requesting their support for a special Knesset session on Pollard. The required 25 signatures were attained, in an effort spearheaded by MK Tzvi Hendel (National Union), and the mid-recess session is scheduled for next week. More issues have since been added to the day's agenda.
A group of new immigrants from North America, together with Israeli high school students, began a ten-day hunger strike on Pollard's behalf on Wednesday. Coordinators of the initiative, including Youth for Jonathan Pollard, Magshimei Herut and the Re'ut (Friendship) Movement, hope it will spread to high schools, army bases, yeshivot (talmudic academies) and seminaries across Israel.
From 5 PM to 8 PM on each day of the strike, pro-Pollard activists intend to hold protests outside the Knesset in Jerusalem. Rabbis, professors and Knesset Members will take part in the demonstrations.
Pollard activist Eli Yosef explained why the coalition of students and veteran activists decided that now was the time for a coordinated effort on Pollard's behalf: "The Hebrew month of Elul is one of repentance, and so we as a nation must make amends for the way we have neglected Jonathan Pollard in prison. This is the 19th year that Jonathan will spend Rosh HaShanah, Yom Kippur and Sukkot alone in a cell instead of with his people."
Yosef believes that both the social and security problems in Israel today stem from the failure of Jews to feel the pain of their fellow Jews. "The reason we are holding this hunger strike is to convey the message that Jonathan's plight literally hurts each one of us," he said. "The tragedy is that members of the government truly believe they can escape the pain - and so each of the hunger-striking young people will be speaking to four or five Knesset members. It is our hope that through this simple act, the government of Israel will begin to feel the pain of Jonathan Pollard."