Help Free Israeli Spy, Activists Urge Hillary

August 30, 1999 - Frank Lombardi - Daily News Staff Writer

Jewish activists yesterday called on First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton to pressure her husband to free imprisoned Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard. "We have no doubt that she can influence the President," the group's organizer, Assemblyman Dov Hikind (D-Brooklyn) said in urging Hillary Clinton's intervention.

Hikind and about 50 supporters, including several rabbis, announced their campaign outside the Manhattan headquarters of Hillary Clinton's Senate exploratory committee.

Pollard is a former civilian analyst for the Navy who admitted passing secrets to Israel.

He was sentenced to life in prison without parole in 1985.

Unless Hillary Clinton goes to bat for Pollard, Hikind's group threatened to shadow her public appearances with a "truth squad" and employ the escalating protest tactics used by the Rev. Al Sharpton in the fatal police shooting of Amadou Diallo.

The First Lady, who was in the Hamptons yesterday with her husband raising cash for her likely Senate bid, was not available to comment on the protest.

"She is aware of the importance of this issue and has no further comment at this time," said Howard Wolfson, spokesman for her exploratory campaign.

Although the President ordered a review of the Pollard case last year at the request of Israeli leaders, he has yet to disclose the outcome. Ranking administration officials, including Secretary of State Albright, oppose clemency on the ground that Pollard extensively damaged U.S. security.

Alluding to the Monica Lewinsky affair and other problems that have dogged the Clintons' marriage, Hikind argued that the President "owes Hillary to do the right thing."

Rabbi Fabian Schonfeld of the Young Israel organization of Kew Gardens Hills, Queens, also cited the President's recent clemency offer to 16 imprisoned Puerto Rican separatists involved in bombings that killed six people and injured others.

"Show me one person who died because of Jonathan Pollard's activities," Schonfeld said. "The time has come to set him free."

Hikind, a Democrat with a history of backing Republicans like Mayor Giuliani and Gov. Pataki, said he hasn't taken sides yet in the likely Senate race between Clinton and the mayor, who has long supported Pollard's release.

But Hikind said Clinton could blunt Jewish antagonism over her controversial support of a Palestinian state if she were to successfully advocate for Pollard's freedom.

"Words alone will not work," he stressed.

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