One thousand young idealists, the vast majority of whom were not born when Jonathan Pollard began his prison sentence, are out on the streets and in the shopping malls today, trying yet again to arouse awareness of Pollard’s plight.
Just days before the summer vacation ends, the youths are standing at intersections and commercial centers around the country, handing out flyers and “We Want Jonathan Home!” bumper stickers.
“This is an initiative that arose spontaneously,” says Asher Mivtzari, a leader of the Free Pollard campaign. “There were simply a bunch of youth who were unable to enjoy their summer vacation when they realized that at the same time, Jonathan Pollard was still sitting in jail, day in and day out. And so they decided to do the only thing they could – try to get as may people as they can to wake up and exert pressure on their leaders.”
Israel National News contacted coalition whip MK Ze’ev Elkin of the Likud, known to be a supporter of the Pollard cause. “Have you spoken to Netanyahu recently about this?” Elkin was asked, and responded, “Netanyahu is not the problem. He is the one who made the most efforts to have him released, at the Wye Plantation agreement in October 1998; Pollard was almost freed, but at the last minute, possibly because of the media reports, Clinton changed his mind.”
In fact, however, both former CIA head George Tenet and former Ambassador Dennis Ross have taken “credit” for having convinced Clinton to renege on his pledge to free Pollard. Tenet wrote in his memoirs that it was his threat to resign that scuttled the idea of freeing Pollard, while Ross said that he advised Clinton to “save the Pollard card” for when the United States would need to pressure Israel in the future. Others say that it was Clinton who reneged of his own accord on his promise.
In any event, Elkin said that the Pollard issue always comes up between Israel and the U.S., and that he is not optimistic that Barack Obama, “much more antagonistic to Israel than previous American administrations,” will agree to release him.
Mivtzari rejects this pessimistic approach. “Why doesn’t the government have a Haggai Hadas assigned to the Pollard case?” he asks. [In May 2009, Netanyahu appointed former senior Mossad official Hagagi Hadas as his special representative for the return of abducted IDF soldier Gilad Shalit – ed.]
“The government should be doing more than it is,” Mivtzari says. “Obama might be antagonistic, but he needs something to show the Israeli public that he is not as anti-Israel as he seems, and this would be the perfect ‘out’ for him. Our government needs to act more solidly.”
One student participating in today’s Pollard Day activities wrote as follows:
“How much longer can we be silent and ignore? … Picture yourselves in a closed room without windows, picture searing pain and longing, picture your bodies pained and wounded, burning in summer and freezing in winter… Picture yourselves in this infinite hell for five minutes… or a year… We have a brother who has been in this situation for 25 years already, 9,030 days, 216,720 hours, 13,003,200 minutes of pure torture – and it was all for us.
“He understood that there is me, and there is you, and there is me and you together; that if I am hurting, then you are no longer whole, that all of Israel is responsible for one another, in the truest and simplest meaning of the terms. But we – what did we do? We were silent – and even worse, we forgot…
“It is in our hands. Together, we will end this nightmare. Together, we will bring Pollard home. Alive.”