Jewish Leaders Meet With Gore; Ask about Pollard

Eric J. Greenberg - The Jewish Week [NY] - September 13, 1996

Posted to the J4JP Website January 4, 2006

Justice4JP Prefacing Note:

This article posted to the J4JP website January 4, 2006. Another decade has gone by since it was written. Jonathan Pollard remains in prison. Rather than actively fighting the blatant anti-Semitism that keeps Pollard in prison, Jewish leaders simply ignore the issue. In the 20 years that Jonathan Pollard has been in prison, his name has never once been on the official agenda of American Jewish leaders when invited to the White House to discuss matters of concern to the Jewish Community.

Vice President Al Gore met privately with about 30 Orthodox leaders in a mid-Manhattan hotel Wednesday morning as part of the Clinton campaign's strategy to shore up support among the right-leaning religious community.

Two separate meetings were held at the Sheraton Hotel. One at 10 a.m. was headed by Rabbi Morris Sherer, president of Agudath Israel of America, an ultra-Orthodox national advocacy group. It also included about 12 other organization officials, including Louis Glueck, president of the Prospect Park Yeshiva in Brooklyn; Benjamin Fishoff, a leader of the Gur Chasidim; and attorney Marvin Neiman.

The Orthodox Union, the largest centrist Orthodox umbrella group, was not invited.

Agudath presented Gore a book of ArtScroll Psalms, and advised him to read a little every day, according to a source.

An hour later Gore met with Rabbis Chaim Kaminetzky and Pesach Lerner, president and executive director of the National Council of Young Israel. Also attending were about 18 other organization members, including Rabbis Yaacov Wasser of East Brunswick, N.J., and Naftali Bernstein of Ohio, Canto Ira Heller and Jerry Kaufman. Rabbi Kaminetzky gave Gore a seder plate.

The sessions were put together with the help of Brooklyn Councilman Noach Dear.

According to several who attended the meetings, the issue of Jonathan Pollard was raised by both groups. The Jewish leaders told Gore they felt Pollard, an American sentenced to life for spying for Israel, has been imprisoned long enough after 10 years.

Gore responded that President Clinton two months ago denied Pollard a commutation of his sentence based on the advice of the U.S. law-enforcement community.

But according to one insider, Gore suggested that "perhaps more work was necessary to discus the issue with the intelligence community."

The Rabbis in both sessions also told Gore of their support for taxpayer-supported tuition vouchers for yeshivas.

Israel and relations between Clinton and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was also a topic.

"Gore made it very clear that the meetings between Clinton and Netanyahu that he attended went extremely well, and they agreed on the prime minister's approach to the peace process," said a person who attended the sessions.

NCYI also told Gore that Jews should be able to expand settlements.

"The meetings were held to help expand a relationship with the religious Jewish community, which I growing in population," said an observer. "The White House had never had real relationship with these groups."

The White House source said New Yorkers should not expect to see Clinton campaigning here before the November election. At best, Gore would make one more trip.