Letter from Rabbi Marvin Hier to President Clinton

The Honorable Bill Clinton
President of the United States
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, DC 20500

February 1, 1996

Dear President Clinton:

After much thought and deliberation I felt it very important to communicate to you my feelings regarding Jonathan Pollard.

First let me say up front that, for me, Jonathan Pollard is no hero. He committed a serious crime against the United States and was sentenced for that crime. He himself has acknowledged that fact in a letter to his parents later made public and in his pre-sentencing communication to the court. My problem, Mr. President, is that after serving ten years in jail, longer than any other spy, Jonathan Pollard's sentence is no longer reasonable and no longer defensible. Simply put, after we have released Russian spies and Israel has released Palestinian terrorists, our country continues to hold Pollard for handing over secrets to a friendly power not an enemy. Every time a consensus builds that he is being treated unfairly, a new twist is presented as to why he should be kept in jail - the latest being not for what he did, for which he was correctly sent to prison, but for what damage he can do to the United States once he is released. This seems petty and vindictive and a tactic designed to keep him in jail forever.

Mr. President, American Jews do not regard Jonathan Pollard as a hero, but nor can they sit silently and do nothing nothing about a sentence that simply is not fair and equitable.

I must say I was deeply offended by the October memo issued by the Defense Department Security Office which once again raised the anti-Semitic dual loyalty question on American Jews. Although that memo was later withdrawn, it makes one wonder whether some officials in the defense and intelligence community are obsessed about the loyalty of American Jews.

I think, Mr. President, that the time has come for you to commute Jonathan Pollard's sentence on the grounds that he has already been adequately punished for the crime that he committed. Letting him languish in jail on the recommendation of certain security officials seems like like a playback to the days of the Cold War and not the days of the new world community that you are working so hard to develop.

I urge you to take that step.

Rabbi Marvin Hier
Dean, Simon Wiesenthal Center

See Also:
  • Defense Memo Warned of Israeli Spying
  • Jonathan Pollard's Letter of Remorse to His Parents