"What? Is Pollard Ill??"
By, Moshe Burt
(Former Arutz-7 link; http://www.israelnationalnews.com/article.php3?id=975)
Each Shabbat morning, I am wont to ascend to the Bima to give a special Mishabeira for Cholim, for Yonaton Ben Malka -- Jonathon Pollard (Yehonatan Pollard for the benefit of native-born Israelis). And every Shabbat morning no matter which shul I'm in here in Israel, when I make this Mishabeira for Cholim followed by my saying Pollard's full name in English and in Iv'rit, I hear the same derisive muttering in the background, "What? Is Pollard Ill??" And every Shabbos I feel the same shock, to put it mildly. No, make that Outrage.
Some of what I feel is particular to the case of Jonathon Pollard and the frank indifference to his plight on the part of Olim, of Anglos. Notice, I said Anglos, not native-born Israelis. I hear the mutterings and its ALWAYS Anglo voices, not Israelis.
I never hear Israelis mutter either in Iv'rit or in broken English "What? Is Pollard Ill??" Granted that Israeli's don't know near enough about the Pollard case and the Israeli Government's part in it. They are not aware of the fact that when Pollard tried to take shelter and ask for asylum in the Israeli Embassy in the US, sovereign Israeli territory under international law, the Israeli Government rewarded Pollard for saving thousands, tens of thousands of Jewish lives by turning him over to US for prosecution. Pollard gave corraborating information, information that the US was bound by agreement to provide but violated by not providing, to Israel, a US Ally, which enabled Israel to take out the Iraqi nuclear reactor in the early 1980s. Israel's action in bombing the Iraqi reactor ironically didn't save just Jewish lives but American lives as well re: the Gulf War in 1991.
Israelis are not aware that the US made a plea-bargain agreement with Pollard to plea guilty in exchange for a lesser sentence which the US Justice Department also violated when it sentenced Pollard to life in prisonment based on then-Secretary of Defense Casper Weinberger's dubious "If you only knew" document submitted to the Sentencing Judge shortly before sentencing was passed.
Israelis also are not aware of the utter daily total mistreatment of Jonathon Pollard for some 17 years at the hands of the US Prison System. They don't know of the years when Pollard was incarcerated in isolation, denied the barest minimum medical care and denied a Kosher diet. They don't know that despite all of this, Pollard had the strength and will of character to become a Religious Jew -- a Ba'al Teshuva.
Israelis, by and large, don't know that there is a so-called "principled Jew" named Joe Leiberman, who after attacking Clinton re: the "Lewinsky Affair", nearly became US Vice President in the closely contested election between Al Gore and President George W. Bush. Israeli's don't know, have no clue of the fact that Joe Leiberman to this day proclaims that Pollard had a Trial by jury when, in fact such trial never existed as Pollard was sentenced resulting a violated plea-bargain and never had "his day in court." Israelis don't know that Leiberman has spent years evading attempts by such as NY State Assemblyman Sam Colman to set the record straight.
Israeli's also, by and large, don't know that their current Prime Minister and previous Prime Ministers, with the possible exception of Netanyahu, have acted with equivocation and have made NO EFFORT to bring about Jonathon Pollard's freedom. They also, by and large, probably have no inkling, no clue that the current Prime Minister has tried, on two occassions -- first with $1 million and then with $2 million, to buy Pollard's silence and languishment until death in Prison.
I spoke recently with a friend, an American Reservist living in Israel who was activated in the aftermath of the Twin Towers event of 11 September, 2001. While in the United States, he was able to visit and spend some time with Jonathan Pollard. My friend related to me the following; "Jonathan is a genius, plain and simple, and he's a joy to be with. Despite it all he has a sense of humor and his breadth and depth of knowledge is breathtaking. The hardest thing to take is when he talks about his plans for a family and starting a business when he gets out. Heartrending--because you know he can make a serious difference in Israel and every minute that he is hindered from his goals is a not only a personal tragedy, but a national one."
I asked my friend, "Do you think that we have a shot with Bush to get him Free?? My friend responded, "Best chance there's been in many years." Then I asked, Is Sharon really the one throwing the monkeywrenches into efforts to free Pollard?? He responded, "Let's put it this way, it's not much higher than priority #72 by him." I restated the questiopn this way, Is that 28% from rock-bottom or 28% below top priority?? The answer came quickly, "The former, unfortunately."
Israeli's don't know and must be brought "up to speed". For Frum Anglos, however, no such excuse -- "we didn't know", exists. One would have had to be deaf, dumb and blind not to know. You name it -- every major Religious publication; The Jewish Press, Jewish Week, Jewish Action, Hamodia, Viewpoint, etc. (I could give a list going on and on) has had extensive coverage over the years of the Pollard Case. There have always been, through these many years, and still are American TV and radio talk shows constantly devoted to Jonathon Pollard's plight.
The bottom line is that in light of the Great Mitzvah of Pidyon Shvu'im -- freeing of an unjustly imprisoned Jewish captive, the mutter of "What? Is Pollard Ill??" is really kinda lame and quite infuriating.
But I said that some of what I feel is Pollard-particular. But much of what I feel is symtomatic of our collective malaise. The Malaise of doing things totally by rote -- of constantly playing "beat the clock" at the expense of the quality, concentration and intensity of our tefillah as delivered to and ultimately received by HaKodosh Borchu.
When Tefillah is continually said at break-neck speed in order to break a time-barrier and when the Gabai similarly utters Mishabeirot for the Cholim at break-neck, mumbling speed as he races against the clock so that Chas V'Shalom, the Ba'al HaBatim spend one extra minute in Shul on SHABBAT, how do you think that such Tefillah and the Mishabeirot are received in Shemayim??
Why do I make a point each Shabbat, in front of the largest Shul attendance of the week, to explicitly see that there is an appropriate tefillah said for my brother Jonathon Pollard?? If there is no other tefillah which reaches Shemayim unimpeded, ungarbled by break-neck speed, this one will. And IY'H, if others pick up this call in other Shuls throughout Eretz Yisrael and in Chutz L'Aretz, we hope to be zocha to SOON witness Jonathon Pollard's freedom and the day when he is physically among us here in Eretz Yisrael. I know that I long for that day and will do all that I can to bring it about.
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