Maariv Exclusive: Without Saying Goodbye --Jonathan Pollard’s Father’s Funeral without Jonathan
By Akiva Novik – Maariv [English Version] – July 10, 2011
Originally published in Hebrew June 21, 2011. May be reprinted with full attribution.
Morris Pollard was brought to his final resting place in the midst of a summer downpour. Despite appeals from Israel, Jonathan was not permitted to
leave prison to attend. On the day that the United States celebrated
Father's Day, the Americans refused to allow Jonathan, the son, to say
farewell to Morris, the father, who had fought unsuccessfully for his son's
Torrential rain poured down throughout the morning hours in South Bend,
Indiana. There were those who tried to link the bereavement and funeral to
the flood-gates of tears that opened in the middle of June, on a hot day
whose temperatures rose to close to thirty degrees. But yesterday, many of
the scores of people who attended the funeral that was held in the Hebrew
Orthodox Cemetery felt that the Heavens were not only weeping for Morris
Pollard who passed away last Shabbat at age 95, but also for his son
Jonathan -- who has been languishing in prison for almost twenty-six years.
"I know this may sound strange," said Barbara Lerman, a family friend, "but
my first reaction when it started to rain was that this was God's way of
telling us that He would fulfill Morris' last will and testament and free
Jonathan—as well as bring down a reckoning on all those who harmed him over
"The fact that he is still behind bars is no less infuriating," Charles Rice
told Maariv a few minutes after the conclusion of the funeral. Mr. Rice had
been a close friend of Morris’ and a law professor in the Notre Dame
University. In recent years, Rice was directly involved in attempts to bring
about Jonathan's release as part of a team of amicus brief lawyers who wrote
in support of Pollard’s legal intiatives. "If Pollard requested to come to
the funeral and the authorities did not allow him to do so, then we are
taking about an unforgivable decision," he said with undisguised anger.
"We must remember that we are talking about a man who transmitted
information to a country that is not an enemy country. We are talking about
an unprecedented situation, and even after tens of years on this case, I
still have difficulty understanding it."
Despite Morris Pollard's advanced age, he continued to frequent the Notre
Dame University [Lobund] laboratory every day even during his last months;
that lab was the center of Morris' world. He was a renowned scientist who
was awarded a military medal for his scientific research after the Second
World War, and even worked as advisor to the American Ministries of Defense
and Energy. Yet even these achievements did not earn him a final hour of
mercy by those government agents who had made use of his scientific services
over many years. Even in his final moments, Morris was not allowed to say
his farewells to his son.
"He used to talk about Jonathan all the time," says Roy Gatz, Morris'
friend, "I cannot understand the logic of Jonathan's treatment, it is simply
incomprehensible to me. This country is full of murderers who were set free
after much less than twenty-five years, brutal rapists who were freed after
only a few years, while only Pollard is deprived of a second chance."
Close family members, such as siblings Harvey and Carol as well as the two
grandchildren who attended the funeral, refused to talk to us. "It is
important to us not to transform Morris' funeral into a political event,"
Morris Pollard left this world on Friday night; the funeral took place on
Monday. Meanwhile, the United States celebrated Father's Day. It is hard for
us Israelis to view this day without a tinge of cynicism, but it is
evidently no less than a national holiday for Americans. Very few fathers
did not receive a festive a greeting card on Sunday; most even received a
present. President Obama published a special article in which he wrote about
his own experiences in fathering his two daughters. Millions of families
gathered for festive barbeques. Many talk shows were dedicated to Father's
Day; the Starbucks cashiers merrily called out "Happy Father's Day" to all
the fathers they saw. Even the pilot of the flight I took to Indiana doesn't
miss the opportunity to proclaim, "On behalf of the entire staff of the
flight and the American Airlines company, we wish you all a Happy Father's
Morris didn't want to have a family barbeque, not even a melodious greeting
card. All he wanted was to hold the hand of his jailed son for the last
A HARSH BLOW FOR JONATHAN
“We are very sad,” Esther Pollard says. “All we asked was that Jonathan be
given a few hours of freedom, just a few hours to say goodbye to his father.
But even this small request was refused.
“Ten years ago, when Jonathan's mother was ill, he also asked for permission
to say good-bye to her and to attend her funeral. The government's refusal
then was a bitter blow for him. Ten years have passed and many things have
changed since then. Many senior American officials familiar with the case
now say that Jonathan should have been released a long time ago. We were
sure that this time the Government would show a little compassion, but it
did not happen. We never dreamed that they would continue to be so unkind.
“This refusal is a harsh blow for Jonathan. What strengthens him is the fact
that I'm here with him. I came directly to the prison in North Carolina
because I hoped that I would see Jonathan be released in time for the
funeral. Now that we have absorbed the disappointment and the blow, at least
I am here with him.
“I am extremely worried about him. How much suffering can one man endure?
What is more, he is also very ill; I'm afraid for his life. I implore Prime
Minister Netanyahu to act; the American government must be made to
understand that Jonathan’s freedom is overdue. I will not rest until
Jonathan returns home. I tell Jonathan about every rally and every
initiative on his behalf. He smiles and draws some encouragement from this.
We are deeply grateful for the recent outpouring of support from the Israeli
public and from the Israeli media. Please continue your efforts; don't stop
until he is home!”
The Committee to Return Jonathan Pollard Home (The Vaad) urges the public to
send letters of condolence to Jonathan at the following address:
Jonathan Pollard #09185-016, P.O. Box 1000, Butner, North Carolina, USA
WITHOUT THE MOURNER'S KADDISH
As they made their way to the gravesite, the Pollard family members still
hoped that any minute now a helicopter would suddenly appear on the horizon
bringing their longed-for son from prison. But the American government did
not grant the hapless prisoner even this tiny gesture of compassion.
JUSTICE FOR JONATHAN POLLARD
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