On Friday we were greeted with the very good news that Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard was finally released after 30 years languishing in prison on espionage charges that would have entailed at maximum a 10 year sentence for any other spy. (You can read all about the injustice of Pollard’s sentencing and prison conditions in my posts here).
His wife Esther greeted him at the prison and flew with him to New York, where they spent Shabbat together in Manhattan.
The couple released a statement saying they were grateful to everyone who worked for his release. Pollard, who suffers from diabetes and chronic leg and ankle swelling, was examined by a doctor.
President Reuven Rivlin on Friday welcomed the news of his release.
“We all welcome the release of Jonathan Pollard from prison after so many long and hard years,” Rivlin said. “Throughout the years, our pain was Pollard’s pain… we felt the responsibility and obligation to secure his release.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu released a statement saying he had been looking forward to this day for many years after repeatedly raising Pollard’s fate with many American presidents.
Netanyahu wished Pollard well and said he hoped he could enjoy Shabbat and the rest of his life with peace of mind.
However, his release is not all it’s cracked up to be. The terms of his parole are positively draconian, vindictive and cruel, as Arlene Kushner notes, and the injustice screams to the heavens:
In the end, I cannot find any rationale for how he was treated other than antisemitism. And now a hostile attitude seems to pervade the draconian terms of his parole, as well: He must check in regularly with his parole officer and cannot leave New York City (never mind come to Israel); he must wear an electronic bracelet so that he can be tracked, and is subject to unfettered surveillance of his computers (which will inhibit his ability to get a job). All of this stringency is supposed to be to prevent him from passing classified information. But he has had no access to classified information for 30 years, and anything he knew back then would be worthless now. What sort of charade is this?
Pollard’s lawyers will be challenging these terms. He is prepared to renounce US citizenship, if allowed to come to Israel; there is precedence for this.
Pollard’s lawyers are indeed appealing these terms of his parole, asserting that among other things it will be impossible for him to find a job:
According to Israel’s Ynet news website, the lawyers say that the restrictions — among them an anklet for 24-hour GPS tracking and the monitoring of his and any future employer’s computers — are illegal, and that no employer would agree to their computers being monitored in this manner.
Pollard’s attorneys also claim that there is no cause to believe that Pollard will pass on further classified information or commit any other crime, as the data he gleaned is outdated and he can barely recall it, the Walla website reported.
And today we learn that the lawyers’ fears were well-grounded, as it was announced that Jonathan had lost his first chance at a job because of those very conditions. The conditions also impinge very much on his personal life, apparently for no good reason:
An employer who had intended to give a salaried position to Israeli agent Jonathan Pollard retracted the offer Monday, because the conditions of his parole would have prevented him from doing his job.
Pollard received an offer to become a research analyst in the finance department of a respected investment firm. But his parole conditions require him to wear an electronic ankle bracelet at all times for GPS tracking of his whereabouts and to be subjected to unfettered monitoring and inspection of his computers and those of his employer.
He cannot leave his home in New York City before 7 a.m. or come home after 7 p.m., which makes it difficult to travel to and from work, to attend prayer services, or to accept invitations to dinner on the Sabbath and holidays from friends and relatives.
“The parole commission’s unnecessary conditions make it virtually impossible for him to obtain a normal job in New York City,” Lauer said. “The employer who offered him work took back the offer because federal authorities asked to install monitoring devices in the company’s computer system if it employed him.”
Some of the conditions sound almost Stalinesque:
Pollard must also answer every phone call or knock on his door in the middle of the night, because it could be a test by a parole officer that if failed could lead to him being sent back to prison.
And if he sleeps through a knock on the door? It sounds like the Americans are looking for the slightest excuse to send him back to prison.
The Israeli government is keeping a low profile in order not to complicate matters further for Pollard, and the Free Pollard campaign is acting likewise at the request of the Pollards:
(JNi.media) Jonathan Pollard and his family posted a notice on the Justice for Pollard website, asking his supporters to refrain from public activities regarding his release (from US parole), saying it may be harmful to his cause.
In keeping with this request, Pollard’s close circle has decided to find a way in which “the dear public who acted, prayed and fought for Jonathan’s release through the years, could send him directly a huge hug which would empower him and Esther to face the complicated challenges that still remain in their path.”
To this end, they established an mail account: Letters4pollard@gmail.com, intended to receive letters (in Hebrew, too), which will be printed in the US by the staff and be personally delivered to Jonathan as soon as possible. “You are welcome to send Jonathan all that’s in your heart, tell him about your activities and your prayers for him over the years, and it is also possible to attach a photo.”
The group has also asked people to pray for his complete recovery using his Hebrew name: Yehonatan ben Malka.
And though I linked above (at the top of this post) to my previous posts about Jonathan Pollard, here is a short recap and reminder of his story:
Korb said that many people exaggerated the importance of the information Pollard gave Israel and the damage it caused to the United States. Clinton, he noted, actually did want to commute Pollard’s sentence, but senior intelligence officials feared this would send the wrong message and then-CIA director George Tenet threatened to resign, so Clinton ultimately backed down.
Pollard was arrested on November 21, 1985 after the conclusion of an investigation into suspicion he was spying for Israel while serving as a U.S. naval intelligence analyst. He was convicted in 1987 to a life sentence for one count of espionage.
Because his crime occurred prior to November 1, 1987, he was eligible for parole after 30 years in prison.
Pollard is the only person in U.S. history to receive a life sentence for spying for an ally and the only American citizen convicted of such a crime to be sentenced to more than 10 years in prison.
Arutz Sheva adds more about the perfidy of the Americans in Pollard’s case:
Pollard was handed a now commuted life-sentence, unlike spies from other allied or even enemy nations that got off with a tiny fraction of his sentence.
In a previous parole hearing held in July 2014 his release was rejected on the basis of a now declassified document, that critics say revealed the largely trumped up charges against Pollard, who passed information on regional threats to Israel.
For now let us say Baruch Matir Asurim – Blessed is G-d who releases prisoners. May Jonathan Pollard merit to return to Israel to live out the rest of his days as a properly free man.