Rabbis, Azam urge Pollard release (JERUSALEM POST) By MATI WAGNER 05/03/05)
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Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Yonah Metzger and Azam Azam, who was recently
released from an Egyptian prison, joined over a thousand people at
Safra Square in Jerusalem on Tuesday to call for the release of
Jonathan Pollard, an American Jew serving a life sentence in the US
for spying for Israel.
The demonstration was launched with a live telephone message from
Shas spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, who for the last several
weeks has been bound to his home by body guards after Israeli
intelligence discovered an assassination plot against him by Islamic
"Everything Jonathan did was for the sake of God," said Yosef. "It
is imperative that anyone who is in a position to help must do
everything in his power to help."
Azam Azam, an Israeli Arab who was sentenced to 15 years in an
Egyptian jail for purportedly passing on Egyptian state secrets to
Israel, added his voice to the call for Pollard´s release.
"The Jewish people cannot forget Pollard," he said in an emotional
speech before the predominantly religious and haredi crowd, many of
whom were yeshiva students on Pessah vacation.
The large of proportion of haredim in the crowd are likely the
result of a three-month campaign sponsored by Radio Kol Chai, a
haredi radio station, which has been airing jingles of prominent
rabbis calling for the release of Pollard. Among the rabbis featured
were Sephardi Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar, former Chief Rabbi Mordechai
Eliyahu, Rabbi Meir Israel Lau and others.
Azam Azam conjured up his own experiences from his Egyptian prison
stint, he was released in December 2004 after serving eight years of
a 15 year sentence, but added that his unjustified punishment paled
in comparison to Pollard´s 20-year incarceration.
"What I suffered is nothing compared to what he must be suffering,"
Metzger, who met with Pollard for four hours in his maximum security
prison cell in Marion, Illinois about a year ago, described Pollard
as a "strong, proud Jew" who was suffering tremendous hardship at
the hands of his incarcerators.
"I came to comfort and found myself being comforted," said Metzger.
"I saw an oily kippah on Jonathan´s head and asked him how long he
had been wearing it," recounted Metzger. "He told me 15 years. I
asked if he wanted mine. He said, ´I do but ´they´ won´t let me´.
"I noticed that the nosepiece of his glasses were broken and were
cutting into the skin, almost to the point of bleeding. I asked if I
could arrange for a new pair to be sent. He said, ´I would love that
but ´they´ won´t let me´."
Metzger said the time for diplomacy had passed and every attempt had
to be made to appeal directly to American leaders to release
In November 1985, the FBI arrested Pollard, a U.S. Navy intelligence
analyst, on charges of selling classified material to Israel.
Pollard was subsequently sentenced to life imprisonment, the most
severe prison term ever given for spying for an ally.
Pollard denied spying against the United States. He said he provided
only information he believed was vital to Israeli security and was
being withheld by the Pentagon. This included data on Soviet arms
shipments to Syria, Iraqi and Syrian chemical weapons, the Pakistani
atomic bomb project and Libyan air defense systems. (© 1995-2005,
The Jerusalem Post 05/03/05)
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