With only days to go before Friday, November 20, 2015 — the date when Jonathan Pollard is scheduled to be released on parole — the small group of activists who have been at the forefront of the decades-long efforts to end what has been widely seen as a travesty of justice are keeping silent. Citing the extreme sensitivity of the situation, the inner circle is declining to speak to the media until he is actually released. Neither Jonathan nor his wife Esther, who has selflessly dedicated her life to leading the battle to gain her husband’s freedom, are expected to give interviews any time soon.
“The oft quoted expression that those in the know aren’t talking, and those who are talking don’t know, can certainly be applied here,” one askan who has been closely following the case for many years told Hamodia on Tuesday.
“While this is certainly a time to give gratitude to Hakadosh Baruch Hu that he will be able to walk out of prison, it is crucial that we keep on davening for Yehonasan ben Malka,” stressed the askan, who asked not to be named.
“The conditions of the parole have not been made public, but if they are anything like what is being reported, it is far cry from real freedom,” he added.
The day after the government announced last August that Jonathan would be paroled, Mrs. Pollard, in her only public statement on the matter, pleaded for privacy.
“I know that so many people are feeling relief and joy and they want to share in our happiness and celebrate with us. But, I have to tell you that what Jonathan and I need more than anything else right now is a little bit of peace and quiet in our lives. A little bit of privacy to be able to rebuild our lives, to be able to heal. To be able to begin to live like normal people in a quiet and modest way,” she said.
On Friday, Congressman Jerrold Nadler (NY-10) and Congressman Eliot Engel (NY-16) sent a letter to Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch urging the Department of Justice to give “fair consideration” to Jonathan Pollard’s expressed desire to reunite with his family in Israel after his release from prison.
“Mr. Pollard understands that, as a condition of being permitted to move to Israel, he may need to renounce his American citizenship,” the letter stated. “Despite the serious consequences that may follow such a decision, including being permanently barred from returning to the United States, he is willing to undertake this extraordinary measure.”
“We believe that America’s interests and the interests of justice would be served if DOJ were to grant Jonathan Pollard’s request to reunite with his wife and move to Israel upon his release,” Nadler and Engel wrote.
The congressmen pointed out that there is a recent precedent for Mr. Pollard’s request. In May of 2013, DOJ allowed René González, a member of the so-called “Cuban Five,” to renounce his citizenship and live in Cuba. Mr. González served more than eight years in prison for a 2001 espionage conviction for taking part in a spying ring on behalf of the Cuban government. While on probation, DOJ allowed Mr. González to attend his father’s funeral in Cuba. Despite DOJ’s prior insistence that he serve his entire probation in the United States, DOJ allowed him to renounce his American citizenship and remain in Cuba, on condition that he never return to the U.S.
As his supporters have repeatedly pointed out over the years, Jonathan Pollard never spied on the U.S. Acting out of concern for the security of the people of Israel, he gave over to the Israeli authorities classified information that the U.S. had gathered about other countries.
Pollard pled guilty to a single count of passing classified information to an ally as part of a plea deal that was supposed to ensure that he wouldn’t be sentenced to life in prison. But after then-Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger who, according to his deputy at the time, was acting out of an “almost visceral dislike of Israel,” submitted a classified memorandum to the sentencing judge, Pollard was sentenced to life behind bars. He is the only individual in American history to receive such a punishment for such a crime; the median punishment for this crime is between two and four years in prison.
Pollard was arrested in 1985 and sentenced in 1987. At that time, a “life” sentence in the U.S. was defined as 45 years or more and, according to the relevant law for those sentenced at that time, a prisoner who served two-thirds of his sentence is to be released unless he has committed serious infractions in prison, or is likely to commit further crimes upon release.