President Clinton's Snub of American Jews And Its Implications

Editorial - The Jewish Press [NY] - August 8, 1996

President Clinton's refusal to commute Jonathan Pollard's life sentence, and his decision to announce it through his press office while he was meeting with a delegation of Jewish leaders in another room at the White House, has received much attention in the Anglo-Jewish media. Certainly, his rejection of the arguments that the treatment of Mr. Pollard was unreasonable and unprecedented under the circumstances warranted the barrage of criticism that greeted Mr. Clinton's action. And the dismissive way in which he treated the Jewish organizational elite must have been a wake-up call to many who thought they had earned their place on the President's short list.

But the real point to be made, we think, is the fact that Mr. Clinton apparently didn't think he had to be much concerned with the Jewish community's strong feelings about Mr. Pollard. Indeed, the intelligence that emerges from the Beltway is that Mr. Clinton believes he does not need the Jewish vote to win in 1996. In fact, he has done precious little about the Jewish vote to date, as compared to the Republicans who have been actively soliciting the Jewish vote, especially the big Orthodox vote in New York.

Also disappointing is the fact that some time ago, at the behest of many of our Jewish organizational heads, the President committed to revisit Mr. Pollard's case. Yet, by all news reports, not only did he rely on old out-dated recommendations from the Justice Department and his staff, he never even asked for new recommendations.

It has always seemed to us that Mr. Pollard's Draconian sentence was inconsistent with the notion that the interests of the United States and Israel were virtually identical, which has been the basis for assuming that Israel could safely take "risks for peace" in pursuing the so-called "peace process." Now we are told by Mr. Clinton that Mr. Pollard has to rot in prison for the rest of his life because his deeds constituted unforgivable "treason" (something Pollard was never charged with). Yet the information Mr. Pollard misappropriated was transferred by him to Israel. And if Mr. Pollard's crimes are still to be perceived in the heinous terms crafted by the pardoned accused perjurer, Caspar Weinberger, how can there be any reliance on Mr. Clinton's commitment to Israel's security or strategic objectives?

Based upon the reactions we are receiving from many of our readers, the Jewish community in this country will not soon forget Mr. Clinton's snub and his cavalier treatment of Jonathan Pollard's case. If this is how Mr. Clinton is acting before the November elections, dare we harbor any doubt about the coming full court press against Mr. Netanyahu after the elections?