Editorial Appeal to Free Jonathan Pollard

October 9, 1997 - The LA Jewish Times - Joe Bobker, Editor

Appearing on the front page cover:

Dear Bill Clinton,

Jews are now entering a week not only of apples and honey - but of pensiveness, introspection, contemplation. This is the time of the year when our tradition forces us to look back even as we gaze forward. Why? Because all Jewish holidays have one thing in common: they form a striking cyclical statement intended to remind Jews of Jews less fortunate than they.

This past year, 5757, was a pain-filled 12 months. More terror. More innocent Jewish lives lost. More orphans amongst us. More enmity. More intolerance. But if we allow ourselves to leap over this past year we realize that 5757 was another annual extension of

a great injustice to one solitary Jew. Jonathan Pollard.

According to the Jewish tradition, Mr. President, on one solemn day a year, on Yom Kippur, our Leader ascends the Highest Seat of rachmonas (compassion) and orders the Heavens to forgive those who seek forgiveness. The Talmud tells us that "Even in His wrath the Lord keeps in mind compassion." The term compassion is derived from the word compass; a word that connotes "redirection" - an act that Jews seek at this time of the year to better themselves

And so I ask - no, I beg of you Mr. President - as do thousands of fellow Jews, redirect: ascend the seat of compassion in Washington and release Jonathan Pollard. Why?

Because he has suffered enough.

Now is the time. Take a lesson from our Yom Kippur ritual; a annual rite of mercy that gives the Jew a chance to start anew, an opportunity to start afresh.

Now is the time Mr. President.

You seek no reelection. Now is the time to graciously extend a presidential kapparah, a cleansing of the slate. Why? Because enough is enough. And because Jonathan has publicly lamented and has expressed remorse and regret. He pled guilty. He fully cooperated.

Now is the time Mr. President

to show clemency and commiseration and a presidential pardon. Why? Because

Jonathan has now languished in a US prison for more than 12 years; half this time in solitary confinement

in one of our country's harshest maximum security facility. Twelve years is not only a long time, longer, in fact, than

any other sentenced spy

in American history, but I must tell you Mr. President, that during this lengthy period the Jewish community have been shocked, stunned and appalled at the comparison between Jonathan's treatment and that meted out to far more damaging and treacherous spies.

Whether he was a hero or a villain in the 80s is no longer the issue. To us he is just another Jew. 44-years-old. Sitting broken-hearted. Emotionally fragile. Socially spent. "I watched the threats to Israel's existence grow, and gradually came to the conclusion that I had to do something," explained Jonathan. "I never thought for a second that Israel's gain would necessarily result in America's loss... How could it?"

It is true. He once betrayed his country for Israel but today - in a world that clamors for the Jewish state to free those who murder its Jewish citizens with impunity - surely your government, the world's greatest political instrument of democracy and freedom and fairness can release one Jew in return?

Mr. President, the grimness, the austerity, the asceticism of Jonathan's sentence is now plainly obvious even to those Jews who were ashamed and embarrassed and abhorred at what he did. Surely you don't wish that the American justice system be viewed with the same shame, embarrassment and abhorrence because of one man's ongoing brutal, acrimonious and inhumane incarceration?

This week's Rosh Hashanah-Yom Kippur marks the start of 5758, Israel's 50th-anniversary year. A year that the Third Jewish Commonwealth gives thanks to G-d for miraculously insuring its survival against all odds. It would be a magnificent gesture on your part, Mr. President, a superb act of justice, a signal of grand humanity if you gave our battered people a gift of one man's life for the New Year.

Release Jonathan Pollard. Tap into the thirst within our Jewish community for justice, benevolence, kindness

- universal, not Jewish qualities, that the United States of America also vigorously embraces.

To do so Mr. President implies not weakness, but confidence in your strength

to do what is right.

It's time.

Joe Bobker,
Publisher and Editor-In-Chief, Los Angeles Jewish Times