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A Hug For A Betrayed Brother (Part I)

         My U.S. lecture tour was very successful. But a great surprise awaited me back in Israel. As soon as I turned on my cell phone, I discovered that I would not yet be driving home to rest after two weeks of lectures and flights. Instead, I would be driving straight to Israel’s Channel 2 television studio for an urgent interview on my visit with Jonathan Pollard.

 

         This was not my first visit with our brother, Jonathan Pollard, but this was the first time that my visit with him aroused media interest. The Channel 2 interview was followed by further interviews. Official Israel’s betrayal of Pollard continues. But it seems that the people of Israel are beginning to wake up.

 

         The following article, summing up my recent visit with Pollard, appeared in Hebrew in the Makor Rishon newspaper and on the Ynet website:

 

         He almost never talks about himself. Throughout our conversation, he speaks about Israel, about the Jewish people, about me – but not about himself.

 

         We hug. “You’re banned from England, eh?” he chuckles, before we even have a chance to sit down. These were the first words out of his mouth when we met last Tuesday. It never ceases to amaze me how this man, betrayed by us and buried alive in prison 24 years ago, is always so up-to-date on everything. He is clear and sharp as a razor.

 

         In the hours leading up to the meeting, I felt distressed. A kind of uncomfortable collective guilt enfolded me before meeting with the betrayed captive. He probably senses it, and tries to dispel the dark feelings with his smile.

 

         Jonathan Pollard begins with a detailed analysis of what is going on in Israel. Of the two hours that have been allotted to us, Jonathan uses 90 percent of the time to discuss the problems we are facing as a nation. He keeps to a minimum any talk about himself, and that is why the few personal words, which he does volunteer, have such a tremendous impact.

 

         When names like Yisrael Maimon (the former cabinet secretary who was previously responsible for the Pollard file) come up, it is hard for him to control his feelings. But he does. The names of other Israeli officials – like current Defense Minister Ehud Barak, head of Israel’s military intelligence back then – come up in the course of conversation from time to time and produce a similar response. “They betrayed me 24 years ago, and they are still stabbing me in the back in prison now,” he says.

 

         The Knesset State Audit Committee instructed Israeli State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss to review actions taken by Israel’s governments over the years to release Pollard. They include investigating the continuing failure of the government and its abandonment of an agent. As could be expected, the investigation prompted senior officials to react with outrage.

 

         Too many top officials were involved in the espionage, and they want to keep Pollard and the operation buried. It is not just Barak. It is not just Minister Rafi Eitan, and not just Supreme Court Justice Elyakim Rubinstein who, as special envoy at the Washington embassy, bear direct responsibility for throwing Pollard out – into the arms of the FBI agents waiting outside the gates.

 

         And it’s not only Israel’s refusal to make an official request for Jonathan’s release, while at the same time peddling lies to the Israeli public claiming that “exhaustive efforts for his release are continuously implemented behind the scenes.” While a petition for Pollard’s release was signed by 112 members of the Knesset, Prime Ministers Sharon and Olmert preferred to “forget” to relay it to the president of the United States.

 

         It was also to be expected that the state comptroller’s investigation of the case would generate a move to blacken his name. “This populist investigation is sabotaging efforts to secure Pollard’s release,” allege unnamed “security” officials close to the prime minister’s office.

 

        Simultaneous with the attack on the state comptroller, an attack was aimed at Pollard himself. If the media could trash him and his wife, Esther, by falsely portraying them as mercenaries lusting after luxury apartments and money, then public concern for their plight would evaporate. Yediot Aharonot obliged by publishing a pack of lies under the “respectable” byline of Nachum Barnea – winner of the Israel Prize for Journalism.

 

(To be continued)

 

         Moshe Feiglin is the founder and president of Manhigut Yehudit (the Jewish Leadership movement), dedicated to building authentic Jewish leadership for Israel. For more information or to order Feiglin’s newest book, “The War of Dreams,” visit http://www.jewishisrael.org/.

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