Netanyahu Raised Pollard’s Release With Obama
The ordeal of Jonathan Pollard continued over the weekend as he returned to his cell in a federal prison in North Carolina to recover from surgery.
Pollard was hospitalized on Wednesday morning suffering from extreme pain due to malfunctioning of his kidneys, gall bladder and intestines.
“He is very weak,” his wife Esther said after talking with him by phone. “He is totally drained and worn out. When I asked him how he was feeling, he groaned and whispered ‘Wretched.’”
Esther Pollard described her first conversation with her husband after the surgery as very alarming, because of the difficulty he had speaking due to the pain.
“Mostly all he was able to do was to answer yes or no to my questions,” she said. “He was not able to speak more than a few words.”
In their next conversation a day later, he was able to speak more, though he was still in a lot of pain and she could hear the strain in his voice.
“He is still far from his usual articulate self, and far from well,” she said.
Esther Pollard lamented her husband’s plight, saying that medical attention in prison was inadequate.
“The worst place to be sick and the worst place to recover is in prison. The environment and severe conditions are simply not conducive to recovery or rehabilitation. Too often pain medication is not available when he needs it and receiving it is sometimes delayed for hours or even for days because of various internal mistakes.”
She expressed distress over not being allowed to see her husband or to do anything to help him.
“Until he is able to sit unassisted in the common visit room at the prison, he cannot have visits from anyone, not even me,” she said. “The only way that Jonathan can have the comfort of family and friends during his convalescence is for him to come home and recover in Israel,” she said. “As weak as he is, as sick as he is, Jonathan is fighting to stay alive to come home. All he wants is to realize his dream to come home to Israel.”
Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said in an interview with Yisrael Hayom published Sunday that he raised the issue of Pollard with Obama at the White House last week.
“Pollard needs to be released,” Netanyahu said. “The time has come for him to come home. He made a mistake. Israel made a mistake by sending him to his mission, but prices have already been paid with interest.”
Israeli Homefront Security Minister Gilad Erdan excoriated America’s treatment of Pollard in the context of foreign policy.
“It is very sad that the Americans are not being tough on Iran and not properly defending Ukraine,” Erdan told reporters ahead of Sunday’s cabinet meeting. “The only one they are being tough to — and unfortunately also insensitive — is Jonathan Pollard, who belongs to their ally.”
Erdan warned against allowing Pollard to die in prison. “If anything happens to him in an American jail, G-d forbid, it would be a stain on Obama and the entire current administration.”
Bnai Brith International also joined the growing chorus urging Pollard’s release in a statement over the weekend calling upon Obama to grant clemency on humanitarian grounds.