08 April 2011

Yehonatan Pollard - The Man

4 Nisan 5771

The hearts and minds of Am Yisrael are turned toward our brother Yehonatan Pollard and rightly so. As we prepare to celebrate the Festival of Freedom---Pesach---our thoughts turn naturally towards those of our brothers who are still awaiting their liberation from harsh servitude. Yehonatan tops the list because of the sheer length of time he has been a captive of Edom and because of the precarious state of his health. He is now halfway through his 26th year in a US Federal Prison. You know the rest. The tragic tale is public knowledge among Jews of every persuasion. But, what you might not know is the man behind the story.

I have been collecting bits of information about Yehonatan Pollard for a few years. I have in my collection a book written by Wolf Blitzer in 1989 entitled Territory of Lies. Over the coming days, I hope to post some excerpts from the book which might provide you with some insight into Yehonatan Pollard-the man, as opposed to simply Jonathan Pollard-the spy who was caught and imprisoned for life.

(Excerpt from Territory of Lies)

In August 1987, Pollard, once called the "Hoosier Poet,"* wrote the following poem, which he entitled Gilboa Revisited**:

I knew the battle was lost
even as the enemy gathered in the plains below---
my sentence as certain as the hatred behind it.
Yet still I stayed and fought out of loyalty to a mad father
who led me to that desolate mountain
and left me as a victim of his arrogance
and misjudgment.

So, there I stood at day's end---
defiant before my enemies, imploring the fallen King:
will you not fight?

Will you not arise
and prove the justness of our cause?
Will you not shield this son
whose loyalty you took for granted?

But you said not a word
my old and rotting father.
You just lay there rigid
denying any responsibility as the sentence was passed.
And I fell at your feet
unrecognized by your cold, indifferent eyes.

But it was not your body this time
that hung above the city gate
for ridicule and scorn---
it was mine.

So, tell me, father,
how long am I to serve as a symbol of Philistine strength
before David is allowed to end this demeaning spectacle
of Hebrew impotence?

* Pollard grew up in Indiana which is known as the "Hoosier" State.
** Gilboa refers to the place where King Saul and his son, Yehonatan, best friend of David HaMelech, were killed in battle.

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