Torricelli, OU and UAHC Weigh In On Pollard

May 20, 1997 - Alia C. Ramer - MWJN

Sen. Robert G. Torricelli has expressed his concern yet again for the plight of the imprisoned spy Jonathan J. Pollard.

In an April 25 letter to Robert B. Rogoff of Passaic, the New Jersey Democrat said he is "disturbed by the conditions under which Mr. Pollard is being incarcerated," and repeated his desire for President Bill Clinton to commute Pollard's sentence.

Torricelli was responding to a letter Rogoff had written to U.S. Rep. James Saxton (R-NJ Dist. 3), with a copy going to the senator, about Pollard's case.

Pollard was convicted in 1987 of one count of passing classified U.S.government information to Israel while he was a civilian intelligence analyst for the U.S. Navy.

Torricelli publicly weighed in during the 104th Congress when, as a member of the House of Representatives from Bergen County, he signed on to a letter urging President Clinton to commute Pollard's sentence. The letter to the president stressed that Pollard's punishment is excessively harsh and inconsistent with the sentences of other Americans convicted of similar offenses.

In his letter to Rogoff, Torricelli said, "I do not condone espionage. However, it is imperative that our judicial system work fairly and consistently. As such, you can be assured that I will continue to follow Mr. Pollard's case as well as monitor his incarceration to ensure that his civil rights are not violated."

Rogoff was glad to have seen Torricelli's strong response, he said in an interview. "If everyone got involved with their congressman across the country" on this issue, he said, more pressure could be brought to bear on Clinton to commute Pollard's sentence.

Pollard has already served more than others convicted of similar offenses, Rogoff said. "The average sentence for what he did is two to four years."

Rogoff, a manufacturer's representative, says he has been involved with the Pollard case for some years, and stays in close touch with Pollard's current wife, Esther. In addition, he has brought the issue to the attention of many elected officials. This summer, he plans a trip with Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-NJ Dist. 8) to visit Pollard in his Butner, NC, jail cell.

In a rare show of unity across denominational lines, Rabbis Eric Yoffie and Raphael Butler, representing respectively, the Union of American Hebrew Congregations and the Orthodox Union, released the text of an April 18 letter to Clinton calling for a commutation of Pollard's sentence.