Pollard Family Says Letter to Clinton Never Delivered
January 28, 1998 - Stewart Ain and Mollie Leitzes - New Jersey Jewish News
The family of Jonathan Pollard has charged that a letter from the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, pleading for
Pollard's release that was to have been sent to President Bill Clinton prior to his
meetings with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, was never mailed.
Early last week, the conference announced a major campaign to win the
release of Pollard, who was convicted of spying for Israel in 1986 and has spent 12
years in prison. The decision to mount a campaign and to write to Clinton
asking for Pollard's immediate release came after a conference meeting at
which strong support was expressed for the former Navy intelligence
analyst. He was sentenced to life
in prison and Clinton has twice rejected requests for commutation of his sentence.
"Before the week is out, a letter [will] be sent to Clinton making the
strongest possible humanitarian plea on behalf of Jonathan Pollard,"
Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chair of the conference, said following the
Hoenlein said the group's 55 member organizations were being asked to get
their members and organizations to mount a letter-writing campaign to
Clinton urging Pollard's release.
If the Pollard family members are correct, the promised letter was not
forthcoming. The conference's failure to send the letter, they say, was a
monumental loss of opportunity for Netanyahu, with letter in hand, to speak
to Clinton about the case.
The conference did not return telephone calls to the New Jersey Jewish News
to confirm or deny the Pollard camp charge that the letter was not sent.
In a phone interview from Camp Butner, NC, with The Jewish Week, prior to
the revelation that the letter may not have been sent, Pollard said that more
than one million letters have been written to Clinton, and that the president
had paid them no heed.
"The White House is not oriented toward the grassroots; it is very elitist-oriented and
listens to the American Jewish Committee, the American Jewish
Congress and the Anti-Defamation League," said Pollard. "Those are the
organizations that have been slandering me and undermining any inclination on the
part of the administration to commute my sentence. I have been told the
president will not take the Jewish community's sentiments seriously until
those groups advocate in my behalf."
Reminded that those groups are part of the Conference of Presidents,
Pollard said the White House "wants to see the statement [of support] on their
The Conference of Presidents has written to Clinton in Pollard's behalf in
the past and Hoenlein and then chair Lester Pollack visited him in prison in
Last month, Israel's communications minister, Limor Livnat, visited Pollard
in prison. Weeks earlier, Absorption Minister Yuli Edelstein became the first
Israeli minister to visit him. Livnat brought with her letters of support
from two other ministers and from Netanyahu, who said he hoped "our continued
efforts on your behalf will bear fruit and that you will be a free man in
the near future."
Stewart Ain is a staff writer with The Jewish Week in New York City. Mollie
Leitzes is associate editor of NJJN.
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