Letter to President Clinton from Rabbi Harold Kushner

May 29, 1997

President Clinton
President of the United States
The White House
Washington D.C.

Dear President Clinton,

I write to you about a problem that has become entangled in political concerns, the ongoing imprisonment of Jonathan Pollard. As I have traveled around the country in recent years speaking in hospitals, universities, churches and synagogues, I have not met a single person who defends or justifies what Jonathan Pollard did. But by the same token, I have not met a single person who feels that Pollard deserves a life sentence for what he did. Other people who have done more damage to America have received appreciably less severe sentences.

As I see it, Pollard is not only paying the price for his crime. He is paying the price for the attitude of the previous Republican administrations who threw the blanket of "national security" over things they were embarrassed by, telling us "we can't tell you everything we know, you'll have to trust us." Whatever the extent of Pollard's crimes, they seem to have triggered an emotional overreaction in Caspar Weinberger that led to his unseemly intervention in the sentencing process. (He spoke of "treason", though he must have known that treason applies only in wartime and we were not at war with Israel.)

Though I am one of many Americans, and American Jews, who love Israel but are dismayed by the policies of Prime Minister Netanyahu, I would hate to see Pollard's health and freedom become entangled a second time in politics, becoming a bargaining chip in American - Israel negotiations. I would urge your compassionate involvement in Pollard's case, substituting justice for vengeance.

Yours sincerely

(Rabbi) Harold S. Kushner

Rabbi Harold S. Kushner is a well-known author and lecturer who is best known for his best-selling book "When Bad Things Happen To Good People"

  • See also: Unequal Justice