Esther Pollard, the wife of the convicted American Naval Intelligence
analyst who has spent 27 years in prison for spying for Israel, on
Sunday entreated President Shimon Peres to act immediately to try to
secure her husband's freedom before it is too late.
accompanied by MKs Uri Ariel and Ronit Tirosh who head the Knesset lobby
for the release of Jonathan Pollard, along with members of The
Committee for the Release of Jonathan Pollard. "I am the wife of
Jonathan Pollard. I do not want to be the widow of Jonathan Pollard,"
she said her voice trembling with emotion and her face crumpling with
Attired in a black hat, classic black long skirted suit
and an ivory colored blouse, Esther made a dignified entrance to the
President's office and tried very hard to maintain her composure, but
there were moments when fear for her husband's well-being overtook her
efforts at self-control.
Pollard has been hospitalized for
several days in the Federal Hospital near the Butner North Carolina
prison. He is suffering from intense pain for which the doctors have not
yet found an explanation.
Esther told Peres that she lives in
daily terror that the phone will ring and inform her of yet another
medical crisis. "It's just a matter of time before the next one occurs."
The issue right now she said is to stabilize her husband's condition.
entreated Peres to use all the influence that he has at his disposal to
ensure that Pollard is not returned to prison. "Sending him back to
prison is a death sentence," she said.
According to American
officials, she added it is also a great injustice. She cited Henry
Kissinger, George Schultz and former CIA head James Woolsey as saying
that the sentence is unjust and that Jonathan Pollard should be released
Peres, who sat grave-faced as she spoke, told her
that he can imagine the agony that she is currently undergoing, and
reminded her that it was Casper Weinberger, the late US Secretary for
Defense who had insisted on a life sentence for Pollard for what
Weinberger had claimed to be security reasons.. It was Weinberger who
posed the greatest problem, said Peres. "But he retracted," came the
chorus from those who had accompanied Esther Pollard to the meeting.
said that at this stage it was important to focus on the humanitarian
aspect of the Pollard case, and promised to make it a top priority.
apologized for being slightly repetitious, saying that because she was
so concerned about her husband, she found it difficult to concentrate on
anything else and she was also sleep deprived as a result of worry.
implored Peres to do everything in his power to bring Pollard to
Israel. No other Israeli has as much influence and respect in Washington
as Peres said Pollard, which was the main reason that she was begging
him to act immediately. It was time to end the nightmare, she said,
adding that 27 years was a long time in which to live in a hostile,
anti-Semitic environment to be without proper food, without proper rest,
without proper medical care and without family and friends
was sentenced for passing classified material to Israel which was of
vital interest, but which had been held back by the Americans.
Peres that her husband is an Israeli citizen "who served this country
faithfully" Esther again urged Peres to act immediately.
reminded Peres that it was during his term as prime minister that
Pollard was granted Israeli citizenship in November, 1995. Nothing
would be more symbolic during the festival of freedom she said, than for
US President Barack Obama to grant Pollard the freedom that he has long
Ariel presented Peres with a letter to Obama that
has been signed by 80 MKs who ask the US president to grant Pollard
clemency. The letter was to have been presented in June when Peres is
due to fly to the US to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom, but
Ariel realized that an appeal to Obama could not wait that long and said
that he joined in Esther's plea. Esther said that she had received a
telephone call from Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger on Saturday
night, who prior to the start of Pessah had called on the public to pray
for Jonathan Pollard. Metzger had contacted her in order to give her
moral strength and to tell her that the season represented a time of
grace, a holiday of freedom, a symbol which the Americans understand.
from America herself, Esther is well aware of this and told Peres of
the case of a Cuban who had been released from prison and allowed to go
home because his brother was dangerously ill. Under such circumstances,
she could not understand why her husband who is severely ill should
still be incarcerated.
Peres pledged to explore every possibility
and said that he would consult with others, but promised to take action
not later than Monday. "We don’t want to make any mistakes at this
stage," he said.
It was important for him to also convey that he
had seen and spoken to Esther because this was yet another dimension of
the humanitarian side of the case.
Speaking to reporters after
emerging from the meeting with Peres, Esther said that she had no doubt
that he was "very sympathetic and very committed to doing whatever he
can as quickly as possible." She was also convinced that he understood
that time is of the essence and that he must act now. "It's very clear
that he's very devoted to bringing Jonathan home," she said.
Asked by The Jerusalem Post if she had been given more reason for hope this time around than on previous occasions, Esther's reply was "Jonathan is alive."
questioned as to whether she thought that it would be effective if
Peres and the two chief rabbis were to fly to Washington this week to
entreat Obama to let Pollard go," her reply was, "There's not enough
Prior to meeting with Esther, Peres met with Shas mentor
Rabbi Ovadia Yosef and the two chief rabbis, Metzger and Shlomo Amar.
Peres had ostensibly visited the rabbis to wish them well on the Pessah
holiday, but in each case the conversation got around to Pollard, and in
each case the rabbis asked Peres to do his utmost to enable Pollard to
Also speaking on the issue, Prime Minister Binyamin
Netanyahu said Sunday that the time had come to free Pollard. "I have
done a lot to secure his release and will continue with this endeavor,"
the prime minister stated.
Jpost.com staff contributed to this report