Netanyahu Renews Pollards' Hopes
June 13, 1996 - The Canadian Jewish News
Toronto - Imprisoned U.S. spy for Israel Jonathan Pollard is hopeful that Benjamin Netanyahu will keep an election pledge to make his release a top priority, says Pollard's Toronto-based wife.
Esther Pollard met with both Netanyahu and Shimon Peres just days before the Israeli vote. She commended the prime minister-elect for issuing a "national unity" call for Pollard's release .
Following a May 21 meeting with Esther Pollard, Netanyahu said Jonathan Pollard must be released now, "because it's the right thing to do, and it's long overdue."
Esther Pollard has met with Peres and Netanyahu on several previous occasions, including during Netanyahu's trips to Toronto. She told The CJN her husband remains hopeful, but that neither of them favours one leader over the other.
"We have always supported any Israeli leader and we are deeply grateful to both [Peres and Netanyahu]. The fact that I was received by them just 48 hours before the election is meaningful."
Pollard, a former U.S. Navy civilian analyst, is completing his 11th year in prison for passing classified data to Israel. He's currently in a jail in Butner, N.C.
Despite years of pressure from Jewish organizations and Israeli persistence, U.S. President Bill Clinton denied Pollard clemency in 1994.
Pollard supporters were also disheartened when White House Chief of Staff Leon Panetta said he doubted the president would commute Pollard's life sentence.
Last December, Pollard filed another application for executive clemency. His lawyer, Larry Dub, told The CJN last week the file "is sitting on a pile of dust" somewhere in the U.S. Justice Department.
He said Clinton could commute Pollard's sentence "now or in six months or years from now."
Esther Pollard said recent responses Clinton has sent to those who have written him about Pollard shouldn't be taken too seriously, as they are form letters.
Among those who received a letter from Clinton was Rabbi Marvin Hier, dean of the Los Angeles-based Simon Wiesenthal Centre. Rabbi Hier told The CJN that Clinton's reference to a new clemency application by Pollard "has to be viewed positively. Maybe there's a light at the end of the tunnel."
no new petition for clemency!
Rabbi Hier received a
form letter from President Clinton that hundreds of others have received.
only petition for clemency filed is the one "sitting on a pile of dust"
on Mr. Clinton's desk.)
He said he think Netanyahu will be "far more aggressive" than Peres in pursuing the Pollard matter with the Americans.
In the letters, Clinton says Pollard "committed a serious crime that posed a threat to our country."
Esther Pollard and others have long argued that Pollard has served more time than anyone else charged with a similar offence and in some cases, more than those caught for spying for enemies, not allies, of the United States.
As well, they argue, Pollard's actions caused no lasting damage. "They know", says his wife, "that sooner or later, they will have to release him."
She said her husband's release would "pass without a whisper" from the American public.
by Ron Csillag - CJN Staff Reporter