28 Nov, 2020
JERUSALEM WEATHER

After 35 years, the saga of Jonathan Pollard is coming to an end as he is released from five years of parole. Throughout his ordeal, a former chief rabbi of Israel saw Pollard as the modern-day Joseph suffering in the pit of Pharoah. The rabbi, who passed away ten years ago, predicted that when Pollard was finally released, all of Israel would be redeemed and the Shechina (holy presence) would return to Israel.

Pollard’s Parole Ends

The US Parole Commission issued a certificate on Friday terminating parole and lifting all parole restrictions on Jonathan Pollard that have been incumbent upon him for the past five years since his release from federal prison.  

“After a review of Mr. Pollard’s case, the US Parole Commission has found that there is no evidence to conclude that he is likely to violate the law,” the Justice Department said in a statement.

Practically, this means that Pollard, age 66, is no longer subject to a curfew, no longer prohibited from working for a company that does not have U.S. government monitoring software on its computer systems, is no longer required to wear a wrist monitor that tracks his whereabouts, and is free to travel anywhere. This development paves the way for Pollard to move to Israel, for temporary or permanent residence. 

It is expected that Pollard will come to Israel to assist his wife Esther, who is fighting a third bout aggressive form of breast cancer. Though the Israeli government has exerted great efforts for the release of Pollard, his lawyer, Elliot Lauer, credits a higher authority. 

 “During Prime Minister Netanyahu’s administrations, there was a tremendous effort on the part of the Israeli government,” Lauer told Channel 12. “We probably would take the credit but I think the good lord wanted Jonathan to finally come home.”

Attorney Alan Dershowitz, long involved in Pollard’s affairs, told Israel’s Kan news that he believed Pollard will be in Israel by the holiday of Hanukkah, which begins December 10.

Pollard’s Case

Pollard is a former intelligence analyst for the US government. Arrested in 1985, Pollard pled guilty in 1987 as part of a plea agreement to one count of spying for and providing top-secret classified information to Israel. The prosecution honored its commitment and requested a “substantial” prison term rather than a life sentence. The judge disregarded the arrangement and sentenced Pollard to life for violations of the Espionage Act. Pollard was released on November 20, 2015. He was given a five-year probation period, during which was required to stay in his New York home from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m., to submit any computer he uses for inspection, and to wear a GPS monitoring device at all times.

Pollard is the only American to receive a life sentence for passing classified information to an ally of the US.  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”. The Israeli government acknowledged a portion of its role in Pollard’s espionage in 1987 and issued a formal apology to the US. Over the course of his imprisonment, Israel made repeated unsuccessful attempts through both official and unofficial channels to secure his release. He was granted Israeli citizenship in 1995.

The Prisoner and the Rabbi

For 20 years, Pollard had a close relationship with Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu who served as a Chief Rabbi in Israel from 1983 to 1993. After much difficulty and much political opposition, the rabbi visited Pollard in 2007 at USP Marion, the harshest prison in the American Federal system, where Pollard was being held in solitary confinement. Rabbi Eliyahu passed away on June 7, 2010. Soon after the rabbi’s death, Esther Pollard, who was not yet married to Jonathan at the time of his meeting with the rabbi, began to speak out about the spiritual messages the rabbi shared with them.

Former chief rabbi of Israel R Mordechai Eliyahu (screenshot)

Surprisingly, Rabbi Eliyahu took the opportunity to ask the prisoner questions about pressing spiritual issues concerning Israel: what can be done to prevent the desecration of the Sabbath in the Land, what can be done to lessen social tensions in the Land between religious and non-religious, what kind of outreach is appropriate to integrate the fragmented segments of Israeli society and to heal the wounds, and many more questions that worried the chief rabbi. 

The Rabbi then told Jonathan that he wanted to ask him a question of a personal nature and Jonathan agreed. At the time, Pollard was divorced and had just connected with Esther. Rabbi Eliyahu told Pollard that he had a vision that he would marry a woman and began to describe Esther in detail, such as where she was born and where she lived. 

He then asked Jonathan, “Has anything happened in reality yet that would confirm my dream?” Jonathan excitedly replied, “Yes, it has!”

The relationship between the chief rabbi and the prisoner grew and the two kept in contact with the rabbi visiting Pollard every time he came to the US. Rabbi Eliyahu informed his inner circle that Pollard’s release was the key to the redemption of all of the nation of Israel, including the release of all of Israel’s captives and MIAs

“Once Jonathan is out, all the captives are all out!,” Rabbi Eliyahu said. “Once they are all out, we are all in Geula (redemption)!”

The rabbi began to refer to Pollard as the “Yosef HaTzadik shel doreinu” (The Yosef Hatzadik of our generation).

“You are a cosmic key to the redemption of the Jewish people,” Rabbi Eliyahu told Pollard. “Your release is synonymous with the release of the Shechinah [the Divine presence] from galut [exile]. Your release is tied up with the Moshiach Ben David’s [Messiah son of David’s] return to the Land. Your release is bound to the redemption of the land and people of Israel.”

In 2003 Rabbi Eliyahu composed a special prayer for Pollard. Shortly after his first visit with Pollard, Rabbi Eliyahu told Mishpacha Magazine that “as long as Pollard is in prison, the Shechina (the Divine Presence) remains in prison with him. Rabbi Eliyahu has often said, it is bad enough that no mercy is shown to Jonathan, but worse still, by keeping Jonathan in prison no mercy is shown to the Shechina!”