(photo credit: AP)
Esther Pollard and the Justice for Jonathan Pollard organization began a three day vigil at a plaza beneath the Chords Bridge at the entrance to Jerusalem on Monday, calling for the release of her husband from his North Carolina prison.
Monday was the 9,000th day of Jonathan Pollard’s imprisonment. A former civilian intelligence analyst for the US Navy, he was convicted of spying for Israel 25 years ago and received a life sentence for passing classified information to an ally.
Esther Pollard and the Justice for Jonathan Pollard organization charge
he has been “buried alive by the Israeli government.”
At last week’s meeting with US President Barack Obama at the White
House, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu had a golden opportunity to
bring up the case of Jonathan Pollard – whose clemency papers are
sitting on Obama’s desk in the Oval Office, Esther Pollard told The Jerusalem Post
. Instead, she
claimed, Netanyahu failed to even mention his name.
“It was humiliating for all of us,” she said. “In a split second,
Jonathan could have found his way home.”
Pollard said that Netanyahu wasted the opportunity by calling for
America’s help in the safe return of Gilad Schalit instead of discussing
her husband’s case. Although she supports any effort to “spread
Schalit’s name,” she sees this discussion purely as a political
“Why in the world would you ask him [Obama] about a soldier in Gaza that
he has no influence over when you have a captive sitting in his own
territory and his papers were on his desk?” Pollard asked. “[The
government] acts as if Jonathan is already dead.”
But other Pollard activists, such as Asher Mivtzari, said the goal of
their vigil is to put pressure not only on Netanyahu, but on Obama.
“Obama speaks all the time of human rights,” Mivtzari said. “Pollard is
not a captive of Hamas or Hizbullah, but of America, our ally.... After
so many years, it’s time to free him.”
Anita Finkelstein, who made aliya from America 35 years ago, has been
following Pollard’s case since the story first broke. After 25 years,
she says, she can only recount her fruitless struggle to uncover the
“No one has explained to me, no one has explained to anyone why Pollard
is in jail, and no Israeli official has asked for the explanation,”
Finkelstein said. “This is inexplicable.”