Woman in the News: an Ill but Well-dressed Anne Pollard Campaigns for Husband and Herself

Anne Henderson Pollard’s freckled face is a picture of determination when she talks about her commitment to her husband, Jonathan Jay Pollard, who is serving a life sentence in federal prison for spying for Israel.

“I am devoted to my husband. I love my husband. I feel truly blessed to be his wife,” she says during an hour-long interview Tuesday in a crowded Manhattan coffee shop.

The shop’s other patrons would never guess that the extremely thin, well-dressed woman smoking a cigarette and sipping a Coke is on her first furlough from federal prison in over two years.

She is halfway through serving two concurrent five-year jail terms for unauthorized possession of national defense information.

She is eligible and has been recommended to be released to a halfway house as early as next month, though final approval has not yet been given. She expects to be released on parole next March at the latest.

Rather than fitting the image of a prison inmate, Pollard, 29, exudes the polished professionalism of her trade, which is public relations. She uses this skill to campaign for her husband.

Pollard admittedly “would do anything” for her husband, and she is using her 12-day furlough to plead his case as well as her own.

On Tuesday, she appealed directly to Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir on Israel Radio to “put in a word to President Bush, either publicly or privately,” on behalf of her and her husband, a former U.S. naval intelligence analyst.

She said on the air that she was certain such an appeal would lead Bush to lighten her husband’s life sentence and bring about her own immediate pardon, on humanitarian grounds.

MEETING WITH THE REBBE

She is also meeting with American Jewish supporters of the Pollards. She addressed the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale, in the Bronx, during High Holy Day services, and spoke Monday night to about 150 people gathered on Long Island to raise money for her legal and medical costs.

Her schedule of meetings this week includes a meeting Thursday with the Lubavitcher rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Schneerson, as well as a meeting Friday morning sponsored by the Zionist Organization of America, to which representatives of several Jewish organizations have been invited.

She confides that she has already met with some American Jewish leaders, though she will not mention their names.

Pollard politely refuses to answer questions about the specifics of her husband’s espionage activities and does not want to speak on the record about her treatment in prison. She fears being accused of revealing classified information or offending the Bureau of Prisons in such a way as to jeopardize her chances for release.

Although Pollard is extremely thin, hunched over, with poor eyesight and her right arm continuously pressed against her stomach, her energy level is high and she exudes confidence as she maneuvers her way down Manhattan streets and into stores and restaurants.

Her strawberry-blond hair has just been cut and she is stylishly dressed in a black suit with puffed sleeves. She wears gold earrings and two small necklaces: a Star of David and a Chai.

“I could walk into prison now and no one would recognize me,” she smiles.

But she is clearly in constant pain and carries a purse full of prescription medication for her “digestive and gynecological problems.”

CALLS AND VISITS FROM WELL-WISHERS

Her official headquarters during her furlough is her father’s midtown Manhattan public relations firm, called the New York Staff.

In the sparsely furnished office, the phone rings incessantly with press inquiries and calls from well-wishers. Her supporters continually wander into the office.

The calls and visitors are fielded by her father, Bernard Henderson, and his friend and associate, Philip Landa, the two driving forces behind Citizens for Justice, an organization founded to support the Pollards.

“This isn’t just a fight for my friends Anne and Bernard,” says Landa, a tall nervous man wearing a knitted yarmulke. “It’s a fight against anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism.”

Anne Pollard no more than walks in the door of the office, than the phone is pressed into her hand.

“It’s Uzi Landau, a member of Knesset,” Landa tells her.

Pollard obediently picks up the phone and speaks to Landau. Several Israeli Knesset members have lobbied for the Pollards, and the support seems to cross traditional party lines.

Landau is a member of the Likud bloc. Rabbi Eliezer Waldman, who has visited Anne Pollard in prison twice, belongs to the right-wing Tehiya party. Another Tehiya member, Geula Cohen, is expected to meet with Pollard in prison next week, as is Edna Solodar of the Labor Party.

Pollard has nothing but positive things to say about Israel and does not appear to harbor anger over the Israeli government’s contention that her husband’s espionage was an unauthorized “rogue operation,” conducted without the knowledge of top Israeli leaders.

NO BITTERNESS TOWARD ISRAEL

When asked if she is not at all bitter about the fact that her husband’s Israeli “handlers” fled the country when learning that she and her husband were being followed by the authorities, she replies, “Why should the actions of three or four people color how I feel about Israel?”

She vehemently denies reports published this summer that her husband has expressed dismay with Israel for turning its back on them. “It’s the last thing my husband would ever say,” she maintains.

While Pollard would gladly go to Israel with her husband — “I would go to Timbuktu with him,” she says — she intends to stay in the United States after she is released from prison. Her plan is to work in her father’s public relations firm, “for the vindication of my husband.”

For now, the public relations professional will continue working in the law library at the federal prison in Danbury, Conn., “reading and writing voraciously.”

Until her ultimate wish — “to be reunited with my husband” — is granted, the American Jewish community, and the American people, can expect to hear a great deal from Anne Henderson Pollard.

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