Assemblyman Colman: Let's Unite To Free Jonathan Pollard

January 19, 1996 - Sam Colman - The Jewish Press

The Rabin assassination has left its mark on both the Israeli and America Jewish Communities. We have been torn apart. As a people we have come to grips with some painful facts about who we really are and how, in some respects, we are sadly very little different from other nations.

We realize now that we are less united than ever before and that there are vast gaps between our people in this country as well as in Israel. Jew against Jew is a very tragic state of affairs.

There is an issue, however, around which we could unite and be brought together in a common action to help another Jew who desperately needs our help.

I am referring to Jonathan Pollard, the former U.S. Navy analyst who is currently serving his eleventh year of a life sentence in federal prison for passing unclassified information to Israel.

Jonathan Pollard admitted many years ago that he was wrong and that he was misguided in his actions. He cooperated with Federal authorities to prevent further damage and pleaded guilty quickly so as not to embarrass the U.S. government's reputation. For his cooperation with the Federal authorities, they agreed not to pursue a life sentence.

The government reneged

on their part of the deal and sentenced him to life imprisonment nevertheless.

During most of those years, Jonathan languished in solitary confinement and three years ago was sent to Butner Correctional Facility in North Carolina.

Though Jonathan believed that the information he gave to Israel was due to them pursuant to diplomatic agreements, there is little question that he was wrong to take the law into his own hands. But we must be united at this time. We must work together, in a united effort to free him.

Eleven years is far too drastic of a punishment. Further incarceration would serve no benefit.

Consider that spies who worked for enemy nations including the Soviet Union were freed between 2 and 8 years after their imprisonment began. Most were only sentenced to short prison terms and


was stabbed in the back by having a plea agreement altered at the last minute.

Of particular importance is that Caspar Weinberger, who is notoriously unfriendly to Israel, was the main force behind the government's cancellation of the plea deal. It was Weinberger who petitioned the sentencing Judge to give Jonathan the harshest sentence possible, calling him a traitor. We are well that

Jonathan was never charged with treason

. Weinberger wanted life imprisonment for Jonathan so that by this action the Court would classify Israel as an "enemy" nation. Passing unauthorized information to an ally is much less severe and is not classified as treason.

If we don't succeed in freeing Jonathan, we will be helping Caspar Weinberger to fulfill his nefarious plans.

If enough pressure is placed upon President Clinton, he will not be able to stall on this important issue any longer. It is only the President who can act to free Jonathan, and he could do so with the stroke of his pen.

Please, take a few moments of your time and write to President Clinton as well as Senators Moynihan and D'Amato, Congressman Gilman, Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres and other national domestic figures who are in a position to convince the President that Jonathan has suffered long enough.

The time to act is now and we can unite on this important issue which affects the Jewish community. We should not rest until Jonathan has been freed.

In the merit of fulfilling together the commandment of "Pidyon Shevuyim," the redemption of prisoners, we will succeed in other tasks which will continue to unify our people.

Sam Colman
Member of New York State Assembly