'We want Jonathan back alive'

Pollard supporters 'rename' Paris square in his honor

Pollard 248.88 (photo credit: AP)
Pollard 248.88
(photo credit: AP)
Under the watchful eyes of scores of police and with helicopters hovering nearby, some 1,000 protesters packed Place de France (also known as Paris Square) Monday for its renaming as Freedom for Jonathan Pollard Square. While the renaming is symbolic - since the municipality only officially names streets or public places after the deceased - the underlying issue is very much alive. For the past 22 years, Pollard, a former US Navy analyst, has been serving a life sentence in an American penitentiary for passing classified information to an ally - Israel. The ceremony, which was the initiative of city councillor Mina Fenton, came two days before US President George W. Bush began his state visit to Israel and the Palestinian Authority. Fenton said the renaming was meant to help lobby Bush to pardon Pollard before he leaves office next January. France Square, also known as Paris Square, was chosen because of its central location between the US Consulate on Rehov Agron and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's official residence on Balfour Street. While successive US administrations have refused to grant clemency to Pollard, who is considered a Jewish hero and Prisoner of Zion by some Israelis, the protesters were hopeful that Bush would free the convicted spy. "We want Jonathan back alive even though the Israelis would like him dead," said Larry Dubb, a Jerusalem lawyer who has represented Pollard pro bono since his 1985 conviction and who is highly critical of the way successive Israeli governments have treated Pollard. "The State of Israel decided to cut off all funding for Pollard," he continued. He hasn't gotten a shekel since the day of his arrest on November 23, 1985, and neither has his wife." In December 2006, Paris Mayor Bertrand Delanoë visited Jerusalem and promised Mayor Uri Lupolianski a 25-meter-high copy of the Eiffel Tower. The 1/12 scale miniature was to be erected in Paris Square to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the unification of Jerusalem during the Six Day War. That date has long since passed with no sign of the Paris landmark. Jerusalem municipal spokesman Gidi Schmerling said that after examining Paris Square's site lines and surrounding buildings, it was decided instead to erect a copy of the Monde No. 2 fountain located in the heart of the French capital. The 3.5-meter high fountain will have a 4-meter diameter and weigh 1.8 tons. Schmerling estimated the cost of the gift at 100,000 euros. No date was given for its installation in the square.