Handcuffs and Prayers at Pollard Rally This Week

This week marks the 20th anniversary of Jonathan Pollard's imprisonment - and possibly the largest-ever demonstration on his behalf. It will be held in Jerusalem this Wednesday.

Hillel Fendel, | updated: 10:21


The protest against Pollard's continued incarceration will be held at Independence Park and Agron St. in the capital, beginning at 5 PM. It will feature a long line of protestors, mainly youth, forming a human chain handcuffed together and carrying four-foot tall posters of Pollard's likeness. Group transportation is being arranged from many places throughout the country.

In attendance will be Israel's Sephardic Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar, former Israeli captive in Egypt Azzam Azzam, and former Soviet refuseniks.

Pollard was given a life sentence 20 years ago for having passed classified information to Israel - but not, as is often alleged, of treason or of compromising US agents or codes. The median sentence for his offense is 2-4 years; only Pollard has ever received a life sentence, despite the plea bargain agreement he reached with the prosecution. The FBI concluded after nine months of polygraph tests that he was not a mercenary, and his ideological motivation was recognized by the sentencing judge, who declined to fine him.

Pollard's wife Esther, whom he has designated as his spokesperson to the outside world, told Arutz-7 today one message that she hopes will be understood at this week's rally:
"People look at this case and think that it's ordinary and just-to-be-expected that he has survived so long. But the fact is that every day that he survives is a miracle. Recently, the papers were full of the news that a Jew who entered prison was killed three days later; that is the type of thing that should have been expected in Jonathan's case as well. That was even the plan, among those who wished to put him out of the picture; when it didn't happen, they were very irritated. When they transferred him to Butner Prison in North Carolina in 1993, they even sent a Mossad agent to urge him to kill himself... The fact that he survives and that we relate to this as anything other than a miracle - that shows that something is wrong with our way of looking at things...

"G-d has performed clear miracles for 20 years by keeping him alive and sane. Take a look at all the different prayers said for him - so many different versions of the prayer, written by so many leading rabbis, recited by so many people in so many places around the world, for such a long time - and all for one person - this is clearly a phenomenon, that G-d has given us an opportunity to unite on behalf of this mitzvah [Torah commandment] of Redeeming Captives. It's simply a desecration of G-d's Name and an outrage that he's still in prison."

Asked if anyone can visit him in prison, Mrs. Pollard said that for anyone outside the immediate family, the media, or public officials, the procedure is very long and complex, if at all possible.

A-7: "People read about Pollard all the time, and many of them are frustrated at the fact that this has been allowed to go on for so long. What can private citizens do?"

Esther Pollard: "The emphasis has to be here, in Israel. The official American Jewish community has chosen to completely absent itself from this struggle. The major Jewish organizations have been repeatedly asked by our attorneys and others to do the most minimal things... We've been trying for 20 years to have grassroots groups there, but what happens is that once they start building up momentum, they turn to Jewish leaders and organizations, which then sabotage them instead of galvanizing them. The only organization in the US that has supported Pollard 100% is the National Council of Young Israel, and they're already doing more than they can... What people can do is to support the activities of the [Israel-based] Committee to Bring Jonathan Home, run by Nissan Gan-Or and Adi Ginzberg."

The connection between Pollard and Gush Katif is not lost on the Pollards, and this message will also be emphasized at the rally. "Jonathan has been saying for years," Mrs. Pollard told Arutz-7, "that any government that can abandon one person, can do the same to entire communities. Take a look and you'll see that the Pollard pattern has simply repeated itself in the expulsion, but multiplied by a few thousand. In both cases there were promises that went unfulfilled, money for PR to falsely advertise how much help was being given, abandonment, etc."

Tomorrow [Monday], by order of Education Minister Limor Livnat - and at the urging of the Pollard volunteers - an hour is to be devoted in all of Israel's schools to the Pollard issue. The "Youth for Pollard" group says it will keep track of how the order is fulfilled.

Mrs. Pollard has mixed feelings about the idea. "We're of course delighted that the Education Ministry is finally doing something that should have been done 20 years ago," she told Arutz-7. "But we are also saddened at the way it's being done. It seems that though the right instructions have been given, the background is very lacking. Israel has never really communicated an official policy about Pollard - not to itself, nor to the US - and this is reflected in the type of background materials, such as newspaper clippings, that were distributed to the teachers."

As a prime example of the lack of policy, she cited the fact that though Israel "recognized him as an official agent in 1998, it never informed the US Justice Department of such! This means that the U.S. continues to relate to him and treat him as a common criminal - instead of as an agent, who is treated the way the U.S. would like other countries to treat its agents. Israel never transferred a copy of the official announcement to the U.S. Justice Department. Even when we tell the Israelis in real-time that he's being mistreated, nothing is done."

As another example of the lack of clear policy regarding Jonathan Pollard, Esther says that he is not listed on the Defense Ministry's site of captives. "Azzam Azzam [who was falsely arrested and imprisoned by Egypt on espionage charges] and Elchanan Tenenbaum [who was kidnapped by Hizbullah while on a dubious business trip to Lebanon] were placed on the list, and their families received benefits. We, on the other hand, have not received a penny - contrary to government claims."





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