April 10, 2008

A Hug for a Betrayed Brother: By Moshe Feiglin

by: Moshe Feiglin
Founder and President, Manhigut Yehudit Nissan, 5768 (April, '08)

My lecture tour of America was very successful. But the best surprise awaited me back in Israel. As soon as I turned on my cell phone, I discovered that I would not yet be driving home to rest after two weeks of lectures and flights. Instead, I would be driving straight to Israel's Channel 2 television studio for an urgent interview on my visit to Jonathon Pollard. This was not my first visit to our brother, Jonathon Pollard. But this was the first time that my visit to him aroused media interest. The channel 2 interview was followed by more interviews. Official Israel's betrayal of Pollard continues. But it seems that the people of Israel are beginning to wake up.

The following article by Moshe Feiglin appeared in Hebrew this week in Makor Rishon and the Ynet website.

Nissan, 5768
April, ‘08

He almost never talks about himself. Throughout our conversation, he speaks about Israel, about the Jewish People, about me. But not about himself.

We hug. "You're banned from England, eh?" he chuckles, before we even have a chance to sit down. These were the first words out of his mouth when we met last Tuesday. It never ceases to amaze me how this man, betrayed by us and buried alive in prison 24 years ago, is always so up to date on everything. How clear he is and sharp as a razor.

In the hours leading up to the meeting, I feel distressed. A kind of uncomfortable collective guilt enfolds me before meeting with the betrayed captive. He probably senses it and tries to dispel the dark feelings with his smile.

Jonathan Pollard begins with a detailed analysis of what is going on in Israel. Of the 2 hours that have been allotted to us, Jonathan uses 90% of the time to discuss the problems we are facing as a nation. He keeps to a minimum any talk about himself, and that is why the few personal words which he does volunteer have such a tremendous impact.

When names like Yisrael Maimon (the former Cabinet Secretary who was previously responsible for the Pollard file) come up, it is hard for him to control his feelings, but he does. The names of other Israeli officials, like Ehud Barak who was the head of Israel's Military Intelligence back then, come up in the course of the conversation from time to time and produce a similar response. "They betrayed me 24 years ago, and they are still stabbing me in the back in prison now," he says.

The reaction to the Israel State Comptroller's decision to investigate the continuing failure of the government and its abandonment of an agent was to be expected. Too many top officials were involved in the espionage and they want to keep Pollard buried along with the operation. It is not just the Minister of Defense Ehud Barak. It is not just Minister Rafi Eitan, and not just the Supreme Court Justice Eliyakim Rubinstein, who was the Special Envoy at the Washington Embassy and who bears direct responsibility for throwing Jonathan out, into the arms of the FBI agents waiting outside of the gates. Not just because of Israel's refusal to make an official request for Jonathan's release, while at the same time peddling lies to the Israeli public claiming that "exhaustive efforts for his release are continuously implemented behind the scenes." 112 Members of Knesset signed a petition for Jonathan's release, but Prime Ministers Sharon and Olmert prefer to ‘forget' to relay it to the President of the United States.

It was also to be expected that the State Comptroller's investigation of the case would generate a move to blacken his name. "This populist investigation is sabotaging efforts to secure the release of Pollard," allege unnamed "security" officials, close to the Prime Minister's office.

Simultaneous with the attack on the State Comptroller comes a co-coordinated attack on Jonathan himself. If we can trash Jonathan and his wife Esther and falsely portray them to the public as mercenaries lusting after luxury apartments and money, then public concern for their plight will evaporate. So we get a pack of lies published in Yediot Achronot [under the ‘respectable' byline of Nachum Barnea, a.k.a winner of the Israel Prize for Journalism.]

Esther Pollard doesn't live in a luxury apartment. For years, Esther rented a tiny room in a cheap motel close to the prison, to be near her husband. It was the best she could do. When she realized that the reason that her husband continues to languish in prison is situated in Israel and not in America, Esther relocated her place of residence to Israel. Not to a luxury apartment in Jerusalem either --- but to a small room in the apartment of a kindly Jerusalem widow who opened her home and her heart to the Pollards.

"If you come anywhere close to winning the primaries," Pollard switches the subject to talk about me, "they will simply murder you. Two weeks before he was assassinated, Ghandi (Rechavam Zeevi z"l) came to visit me. I tried to warn him. I told him what I feared was going to happen, but he just brushed aside my warnings. They did it to one of their own; do you think that they would have any trouble doing it to you?" This is not the first time that people have cautioned me about this possibility, but when the warning is coming from the mouth of Jonathan Pollard, the words take on greater meaning.

"How is Israel able to succeed in having the Americans keep you in prison?" I ask Jonathan, "Even the head of the CIA has been saying for some time that it is time to let you go."

"They have never given the Americans the slightest reason to officially begin the process," Pollard replies. In matters like this, there are no free gifts. As opposed to what Israel is telling its own citizens, it has been made clear to the Americans through every channel, that Israel has no interest whatsoever in the man who saved the State by providing vital intelligence to ensure its survival.

All it would take is a sign from Israel to bring about Pollard's speedy release. Israel has numerous ways to secure the immediate release of Jonathan Pollard, but prefers instead to seek his death in prison.

Only towards the end of the visit does Jonathan share what he keeps locked in his heart. He describes the hostile, violent and noisy atmosphere he lives in. He says that he spends most of his time alone in his cell with earplugs in his ears. He speaks of his deteriorating health and how he is no longer able to climb up into his top level bunk bed; he is now forced to carry a medical permit allowing him a bottom bunk. He speaks of his legal situation. "Legally speaking, my life sentence condemns me to spend 45years in prison. I am supposed to leave prison at age 75. They will never let that happen," he says with disgust.

"At a certain moment in time," I tell him, trying to encourage him, "these gates are just going to suddenly open, and you are going to walk out, a free man. That moment is closer than you think."

Jonathan Pollard is a mirror that reminds us of who we are; a mirror that Israel is trying to shatter.

When the Pollard case first broke, I was a young officer. Even back then it troubled me that Jonathan (the Jew) was thrown out of the Embassy, while his handler, IAF officer Aviam Sella (the Israeli), was given asylum and defended by Israel. Despite American pressure to hand him over, Israel stood firm for Sella. It looks like Israel is not a State of the Jews, I remember thinking at the time, but a State of Israelis.

Pollard is the Jew who saved the Israelis from American treachery. He did not save us because we are Israelis. He saved us because we are his Jewish brothers. The Pollard case imposes a Jewish identity upon Israel. Israel's current leadership prefers to keep its Jewish identity safely stored under lock and key, in a jail cell in Butner, North Carolina.

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