After serving three decades behind bars, and more than three-and-a-half years under severe parole restrictions, Jonathan Pollard is expressing his increasing frustration with the Israeli government failure to act on his behalf.
“I feel that the betrayal that started back when I was expelled from embassy in 1985 has basically continued,” Pollard told a friend, Rabbi Avraham Y. Heschel, in a conversation on Tuesday. “ You can either simply walk away from someone like myself, leaving him to fend for himself as best as he could, or you can feign activity on the person’s behalf. The latter is what I have seen ever since I was released from prison. When the government of Israel wants to accomplish something, they know very well what they have to do to accomplish that end. In my case, they haven’t even done the bare minimum of expressing to the American government their commitment to see me repatriated, and the Americans can read between the lines.”
Pollard gave explicit permission for his comments to be published.
His harsh parole restrictions include wearing a GPS monitoring system that consists of a bulky non-removable transmitter installed on his wrist, and two box receivers that are plugged into outlets in his cramped Manhattan studio apartment, which he shares with his wife. Whenever he moves outside the range of the receiver, the transmitter — which is three inches long and two inches wide — acts as a GPS tracker and monitors his location. Were Mr. Pollard to step out of his apartment to daven with a minyan or get some fresh air on Shabbos or Yom Tov, the battery would quickly drain, forcing him to choose between violating Shabbos or facing rearrest.
The parole restrictions also include a “curfew” that puts him under house arrest between 7:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m. During the daytime, he is only permitted to be in specific parts of southern Manhattan, and is even prohibited from visiting Brooklyn. The restrictions also include the unfettered monitoring and inspection of any computer he touches, including those of any employer who might choose to hire him, which has prevented him from being able to gain employment.
The same government officials who insisted on these restrictions when Pollard was released from prison in 2015, will be the ones making the decision whether or not to lift them, at the five-year mark in November 2020. They have the legal ability to keep the restrictions in place until 2030.
“Eretz Yisrael is my home,” Pollard told Rabbi Heschel. “The government has an absolute obligation to bring me home, as a bona fide agent who was abandoned and betrayed. This is the least I can expect from the government of Israel.”
He emphasized that it is all a matter of what the Israeli government sees as a priority.
“There is always something else more important that takes priority over my case,” he said. “Getting me home isn’t on the level of moving the U.S. embassy to Yerushalayim, recognizing Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights or ending the Iran deal. In my case, the matter is far simpler. It is about bringing an agent home who has done his time. I believe very strongly that if the Israeli government would make a forthright request of the president to terminate my parole, he would do so. As I have said before, I have absolute faith that Hashem will see us home, but Hashem requires that people do their hishtadlus as well. It is this most basic hishtadlus by the Israeli government that is blatantly missing,” Pollard stressed.
“This is about the rescue of one Jew. Hashem is watching and seeing the refusal of the government of Israel to do this, and is waiting for them to turn course.”