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Thursday, June 20, 2019
Editor’s Notes: A Visit to Pollard’s Manhattan Apartment

Editor’s Notes: A Visit to Pollard’s Manhattan Apartment

By Yaakov Katz - Jerusalem Post - June 20, 2019

When Jonathan Pollard was released from prison in 2015, there were some
people who assumed the Israeli government would quietly step in to take care
of the former spy and quickly bring him home.

I’ve visited Pollard a number of times over the years for off-the-record
conversations, and while I can’t say much about what we discussed, I can
reveal a bit about the life he leads and his Manhattan apartment, which
sadly speaks volumes about Israel’s continuing abandonment of its former

The words “Pollard’s Manhattan apartment” might have the average person
think of a doorman, a view of the Big Apple, a large apartment, and the
“easy life.”

The reality is far from it.

Pollard and his wife, Esther, live in a building without a doorman or an
elevator. It is a five-floor walk-up on a narrow staircase. The apartment
itself is tiny. There is a convertible couch that is the couple’s living
room by day and their bed by night. In the same room, there is a small table
and kitchenette. One wall is stacked with Pollard’s books, from the floor
halfway to the ceiling. There is no view or balcony. There are barely any

On my last visit a few weeks ago, I asked Pollard if he receives any
assistance from the government – the same government whose ministers profess
that they have not given up on the former spy and are constantly working to
bring him home.

“No!” both Pollards responded.

Esther claimed that in the 30 years that Pollard was imprisoned, as well as
over the last four years of parole, neither one of them has ever received
any financial support from the government. “No help at all,” Pollard said.
“Not financial, nor legal, nor medical. Nothing.”

It was a bit surprising. I asked if he received a stipend.

“No, not a cent,” he said, adding: “Look, we’re not asking for anything. All
we want is to come home to Israel. Is that too much to ask?”

I asked Pollard if the government was aware of his living conditions, and if
it inquired whether he had adequate medical care and insurance.

“Of course they know,” Esther said, adding that a “high-ranking
representative” visited the couple and told them that he was keeping the
Prime Minister’s Office fully apprised of the situation.

“We don’t care about our dismal living conditions,” she added. “What
troubles us is how the government deceives the public into believing they
are helping us, when in fact they are doing nothing to help, and absolutely
nothing to get us home.”

For context, it is worth keeping in mind that Pollard suffers from serious
medical issues, the result of his extensive 30-year prison sentence. He has
a damaged spine with a herniated disc, which he says was caused from
beatings he sustained by interrogators after his arrest in 1985.

In addition, he says, both of his ankles were broken, and since they were
never treated, they did not heal correctly. Nowadays, Pollard walks with the
help of a cane and regularly visits a pain clinic.

This is all important to keep in mind as the former spy continues to wait in
the US for the chance to get on a plane and move to Israel, the state he
once served. Whether you like him or not, his request has merit: he worked
for the State of Israel, and the State of Israel should work on his behalf.
Even with the complications and controversy this entails, he should not be
left to languish away in New York.

While Pollard’s parole is supposed to be finished at the end of 2020, that
might not happen. Just as the court has refused to ease the parole
restrictions until now, it can just as easily extend them for years to come.

For this to change, Israel needs to get involved. Prime Minister Benjamin
Netanyahu has claimed over the years that he brings up Pollard in every
meeting with the US president, whoever it might be. While this might be
true, there is a question of where this request sits on the list of his

When Netanyahu visited Washington in March, just weeks before the April 9
election, there was a feeling that President Donald Trump might release
Pollard, and that Netanyahu – just two weeks before elections – would be
able to fly him home. Instead, Netanyahu returned to Israel with recognition
of Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights, and Pollard remained in his
living room.

I don’t know if Trump will ever do so, but with the stroke of a pen he can
commute Pollard’s parole.

To secure his release though, Netanyahu would have to ask and make the
former spy his top priority...

JUSTICE4JP Comment: Netanyahu does not have to make Pollard his “top
priority”. But he does have to make Pollard a priority. Unlike all the other
challenges facing Israel, resolving the Pollard issue can be as simple as
the PM making a serious phone call to Israel’s best friend in the White
House, President Trump. The President has unabashedly made public his desire
to support Netanyahu. With a stroke of his pen, the President can terminate
a Pollard’s parole and immediately send him home to Israel.

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