Hours before Jonathan Pollard was to be released on parole, his inner circle of supporters continue to continued to decline to speak to the media, citing the extreme sensitivity of the situation. 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 grant media interviews, but it is thought that his attorneys and some of his closest supporters will break their silence after he actually leaves prison.
For the many who have followed the case over the past three decades, his long-awaited release is only the latest chapter is a tragic tale of a Jew in exile; a Jew who has managed to fortify himself with emunah and bitachon under extraordinarily harsh circumstances. They also see it as a devastating story of betrayal by the government he sought to help, and of an American justice system that failed him miserably.
The deep sense of relief and joy over his being able to walk out of the physical confines of prison is tempered by the fact that this isn’t what they have yearned for so long for. A severely restrictive parole is a far cry from real freedom, and it means that the threat of rearrest and being sent back to prison for years to come continues to hang like a dangling sword over the head of a newly released prisoner.
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.
For many long years, Jews throughout the globe waited for what was widely seen as a travesty of justice to come to an end. In the days and weeks to come, when the details of his parole conditions are expected to be released, it will be apparent whether or to what degree the injustice is finally coming to an end.