Pleas For Pollard

The Jewish Press (NY) - September 2, 1999 - Dov Hikind (NY Assemblyman)

As Hillary embarks on a political campaign that will have her wading through issues of primary concern to her potential New York constituency, we have initiated a moral campaign on behalf of Jonathan Pollard. On August 29, at the location of Hillary Clinton's Exploratory Committee, I stood beside a proud contingent of New York Democrats to call on Hillary Clinton to prevail upon the President to pardon Jonathan Pollard. Joined by Rabbi Pesach Lerner, Rabbi Fabian Schoenfeld, Rabbi Gershon Tannenbaum, Rabbi Dovid Goldwasser, Rabbi David Helberg, other rabbis, and scores of community members from throughout the five boroughs, we declared that we are adamant about pursuing justice for a man who has been incarcerated for far longer than anyone convicted of a similar crime.

The legacy of democracy casts a long shadow that eclipses the dictates of personal interest. The laws of judicial equity were imposed to protect the guilty as well as the innocent because to separate a man from his liberty unjustifiably - to deny him his personal liberties - is tyranny not democracy.

That is why the U.S. is unique in the defense of its citizens. A man is innocent until proven guilty, and even his guilt does not invite the abandonment of justice. Every aspect of evidentiary proceedings is subject to intricate laws that govern the rights of the accused. The harshest penalties are reserved for the harshest crimes, and yet society still struggles with imposing cruel and unusual punishment.

We are a society governed by laws. Verifiable evidentiary materials, not innuendo, are what have kept our justice system intact. But the case of Jonathan Pollard has cast a pall over the cause of justice.

After a plea bargain agreement to which Pollard stipulated, he received a life sentence. By definition and tradition a plea agreement assumes a more sympathetic sentence because it spares the expense of a lengthy and what would have been embarrassing trial for the U.S. and Israel. Under the terms of the 1983 Memorandum of Understanding Israel was entitled to the information that Pollard turned over to her in classified documents. It was, however, being withheld because of a rogue policy to keep Israel uninformed and dependent on the U.S., by creating a vulnerability in her national security. Pollard transferred classified intelligence data that showed a buildup of chemical, biological, and nuclear weaponry by Syria, Iraq, Libya and Iran.

A thorough and lengthy investigation would have humiliated the intelligence communities in both countries. In this mix of personalities and egos, Pollard slipped into the role of fall guy and was demonized as the worst spy ever in the history of the U.S. This onerous misrepresentation defies the factual dictates of his case. He was never accused of treason. He could never be accused of treason because of Israel's consistent status as a friendly nation. A compelling review of his case is clearly indicated. Justice ignored is justice denied.

Hillary's intervention would likely heavily influence the President in favor of a commutation of Pollard's sentence.

We will not relent, and we will not abdicate our responsibilities to advocate on behalf of justice. Jonathan Pollard has served his time. Now we must insure that his prolonged time does not become a crime of indifference.

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