Here are excerpts of my Knesset speech regarding Jonathan Pollard’s incarceration:
I would like to thank Knesset member [Avishay] Braverman who openly told us that at least during a certain time period, Jonathan Pollard remained imprisoned because that was also the will of people here, in Israel.
This is a very important statement, which was said in an offhand way. But in my opinion, it is certainly possible that this problem still exists.
Jonathan Pollard is not a traitor. We have to look at Jonathan Pollard through Jewish, Israeli, Zionist eyes. Jonathan Pollard is an Israeli agent. He performed a service for us. It is unthinkable that we should look at Jonathan through American eyes.
Jonathan Pollard is a hero, a hero of Israel. He is a hero who risked his life for us. And who knows how many of us he literally saved.
I have no intention of signing the petition for Jonathan Pollard. It is just meaningless words. It is lip service. I have no intention of being dragged once again into processes that have nothing behind them. Similarly, in my evaluation, this petition will fade away when President Barack Obama arrives here if we, the MKs, do not take tangible action – and I intend to propose just such an action. With it, our loyalty to the person who we sent to risk his life for us will be put to the test.
Our brother, Jonathan, who risked his life for us as our envoy, was not the only one who ran to the Israeli embassy for protection on that bitter day 28 years ago. His direct handler, Colonel Aviem Sella, ran to the embassy with him.
The U.S. forcefully demanded that both men – the Jew and the Israeli – be handed over to them.
We betrayed the Jew, and handed him over to his captors – the FBI agents waiting outside.
As far as the Israeli, we proved that when Israel wants something, it can certainly stand firm. Aviem Sella was not handed over – and a way was even found to bring him back to Israel.
On that day I understood that the state of Israel is not really the state of the Jews. Israel is the state of the Israelis. And from this denial of its identity and its foundations, my friends, Knesset members, Israel is progressively losing the legitimacy for its very right to exist.
I have visited my brother, Jonathan, many times. When I saw him for the first time, I couldn’t stop my tears. It was awkward: he was the inmate, who, despite the terrible torture that he had endured, remained peaceful and calm while I, a free lark, was crying like a baby.
Since then, Jonathan’s picture is on the front door of my house. One cannot enter the Feiglin family home without remembering our brother, Jonathan.
The betrayal of Pollard continues until today. It is hard to believe, but the simple fact is that the prime minister then, the person who authorized the extradition and today serves as president of the state of Israel, until recently never officially requested Jonathan’s release. We often hear that Israel is doing its utmost. We heard that and we will continue to hear it. We will sign petitions. But an official request was never presented – until Prime Minster Binyamin Netanyahu did so after 20 years.
But the resolve is still missing. Our body language – and I am referring to the body language of the regime, not of the nation of Israel and not of the Knesset embers but the body language of those responsible – still says to the Americans, “Keep Pollard to yourselves, we don’t really want him here.”
The type of spying that Pollard conducted is carried out by U.S. agents in Israel as a matter of course and is public information. Israel has the ability to demand and receive our brother, Jonathan, if it wants. If we want!
The president of the U.S. will [soon] arrive in Israel and he will want to speak from this podium. Welcome to Israel, U.S. President Barack Obama – with my brother, Jonathan Pollard.
But if you continue to imprison my brother, Jonathan, you will have to speak to my empty chair. And I hope that more Knesset chairs than just mine will be empty.
I call upon all the members of the Knesset to take similar action and to prove that a new generation has risen in Israel, a generation that is not willing to continue betraying Jonathan under the guise of meaningless diplomatic chatter. A generation of solidarity with every Jew. A generation that gives true meaning to the concept “the state of the Jews” – the Jewish state.
About the Author: Moshe Feiglin is the Deputy Speaker of the Knesset and a member of Israel's Security and Defense Committee. He heads the Manhigut Yehudit ("Jewish Leadership") faction of Israel's governing Likud party. He is the founder of Manhigut Yehudit and Zo Artzeinu and the author of two books: "Where There Are No Men" and "War of Dreams." Feiglin served in the IDF as an officer in Combat Engineering and is a veteran of the Lebanon War. He lives in Ginot Shomron with his family.
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