It’s lovely to begin with some good news: On Friday, Jonathan Pollard was released from the federal prison in Butner, N. Carolina on parole. He wasn’t “freed,” as some reports had it. He still must adhere to the rules of his parole, which has been granted at the end of 30 years of a life sentence.
But he is out of prison, and with his wife, Esther. And that is a great deal to be grateful for.
Pollard served an inordinately (a ludicrously) long time for one count of having passed classified information to an ally of the US, “without intent to harm the United States.” What is more, the information he passed was information that the government of Israel was entitled to receive from the US, according to a 1983 Memorandum of Understanding.
In the end, I cannot find any rationale for how he was treated other than antisemitism. And now a hostile attitude seems to pervade the draconian terms of his parole, as well: He must check in regularly with his parole officer and cannot leave New York City (never mind come to Israel); he must wear an electronic bracelet so that he can be tracked, and is subject to unfettered surveillance of his computers (which will inhibit his ability to get a job). All of this stringency is supposed to be to prevent him from passing classified information. But he has had no access to classified information for 30 years, and anything he knew back then would be worthless now. What sort of charade is this?
Pollard’s lawyers will be challenging these terms. He is prepared to renounce US citizenship, if allowed to come to Israel; there is precedence for this.
Journalists do get very foolish, sometimes, when seeking a line for a story. “How does it feel to be out?” he was asked. Brilliant question. How do these journalists think it feels?
My opinion is that we should leave him alone for some period of time. Allow him to re-adjust. Wish him many years ahead – years of reasonable health, and much contentment.
When I wrote my “reluctant posting” on Thursday, immediately informing readers about the latest terror attacks, I did not yet have much information. That information followed later.
I had written that one American Jew had been killed. Now I can tell you that it was Ezra Schwartz, 18. And what was he doing near the entrance to Alon Shvut in Gush Etzion when he was killed? He was volunteering to hand out food to soldiers.
Say again: He was handing out food to soldiers.
This is beyond our ability to comprehend.
Ezra, who was from Sharon Massachusetts and had recently graduated from the Maimonides School in Brookline, was studying this year at Yeshivat Ashreinu in Beit Shemesh.
His body was brought home for burial. May he rest in peace.
Also dying in that attack was of Alon Shvut, a father of four and a teacher who worked as an educational coordinator at the Derech Avot high school in Efrat.
Alon Shvut put out a statement:
“He loved education and more than anything loved his students. A man of education and smiles.”
Don’s wife is a teacher in a high school in Alon Shvut – as it happens, the high school from which my granddaughter graduated this past June. And so she travelled to the funeral, and I was filled with an enormous sadness, that our young people – growing up so quickly – do this routinely. The outside world does not know, I thought. Does not know.
At the funeral, his wife said,
“I thank God for the 22 happy years we had together. From heaven, please pray to God to give us strength.”
While his son said,
“I don’t understand why and how you aren’t here anymore. How a person like you could be murdered because of this evil. Teach me how to be optimistic at times like these.”
You’ve heard me speak again and again about the extraordinary strength of the Israeli people. And here you have it.
And please note, not once do you hear a cry of surrender, a determination to leave this land and be done. In the face of this ultimate hardship there is determination.
There is so much else I had intended to write about, but in the end decided it could all wait. I would not be properly honoring those who died – and those who loved them – if I didn’t focus on them for just one posting: and perhaps helped people outside of Israel to understand.
© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution.
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“We Have Legal Grounds” –