Jonathan Pollard, who served 30 years in an American prison for spying for Israel, told Channel 12 news in a Tuesday report: “The state does not care about me.”
Correspondent Yona Leibson spotted the freed spy eating with his wife in a restaurant in New York and pulled him into an unscheduled, exclusive interview. Pollard is not allowed to give interviews according to his terms of early release, which is why he is reluctant to respond with more than a few words when Israeli reporters usually approach him. This time, Leibson got to him, or she caught him in a particularly angry mood over the fact that he is being barred from moving to Israel—for no reason other than petty vengeance on the part of the US government.
In the end he agreed to tell the camera what he really thinks, knowing that he might be punished for giving the interview.
Jonathan Jay Pollard, 65, worked as an intelligence analyst for the United States government and in 1987 pleaded guilty to providing top-secret classified information to Israel. He was sentenced to life in prison for violations of the Espionage Act. In defense of his actions, Pollard declared that he committed espionage only because “the American intelligence establishment collectively endangered Israel’s security by withholding crucial information.” That cost him dearly. He holds the dubious record of being the only American who has received a life sentence for passing classified information to an ally of the US. He was released on November 20, 2015 on condition that he remain in the US—in NY City, specifically—for five years.
In his interview with Channel 12 News, Pollard spoke for the first time about his disappointment and anger because the Israeli government had once again abandoned him. The first time was back in 1985, when he showed up in the Israeli embassy in Washington, DC, with two suitcases full of secret documents but was evicted on the orders of his operator, spymaster Rafi Eitan (For some reason, I always imagine this scene taking place under a heavy downpour – DI).
“If not for my belief in God, I would have been very depressed right now,” Pollard said, noting that “to be disappointed you have to expect something more, and my level of expectation is so low so I’m not surprised.”
Pollard went on to sharply criticize what he called the indifference of the Israeli government in its treatment of himself and of his wife, Esther (he divorced his first wife, Anne Henderson, after her release from prison).
“The indifference about bringing us to Israel would have shattered us if I hadn’t known that our faith and our love for the country and its people is so strong that it will ultimately lead us home,” Pollard said in the interview.
He emphasized that no government official was in contact with him.
Last November, Israel submitted an official request to the US Justice Department to allow Pollard to complete his parole in Israel, but was denied.
“It’s a matter of priorities, and there always seems to be something more urgent,” Pollard complained. “Whether it’s the deal with Iran or the embassy’s move to Jerusalem or the Golan, the recognition of our sovereignty on the Golan Heights. There’s always something. So in order that they make me a priority it means the government should care about me enough to say openly: That’s what we want, it’s his time to go home.”
“I am very concerned about what this entails regarding the commitment of the political establishment to everyone’s security,” Pollard said, adding angrily, “If you don’t care about someone like me who spent 30 years in a prison for Eretz Israel and its citizens, how much concern do you show anyone in the country, from our soldiers to the citizens?”
“This is the test, will you be willing to fight for one person? And if you’re not, then draw your own conclusions.”
The Prime Minister’s Office responded: “Israel remains committed to bringing Jonathan Pollard back to Israel. Prime Minister Netanyahu raised the issue many times with the American administration and will continue to do so until he is returned to Israel.”