B'nai Brith Repeats Urgent Appeal to Clinton

J4JP Release - November 29, 2000



November 28, 2000

William Jefferson Clinton
President of the United States of America
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, D.C. 20500

Dear President Clinton,

As you know, we have written to you several times in recent years asking you on humanitarian grounds to release Jonathan J. Pollard from prison. We do so again, with a sense of urgency.

This request is being made irrespective of the recent court filings to overturn Mr. Pollard's sentence. Instead we note that this month he entered his 16th year of imprisonment, longer than any other person charged with the same crime. We also note that your eight years as president are drawing to a close. While time is short in which you can act, you enjoy on the other hand, more freedom to take the long view. And the long view, we believe, argues powerfully for Mr. Pollard's release now. Among other things it includes:

  • The hope expressed to you by Rabbi Alexander Schindler only a few weeks before his death, that you would share his conviction that Jonathan Pollard's incarceration "has long since crossed the line where justice ends and vindictiveness begins." As you recall, Mr. President, that is the position that we have held for some years now;

  • The government's decision to release Wen Ho Lee - indicted on 59 felony counts of copying nuclear secrets - after 9 months in jail on suspicion of aiding China's buildup of strategic nuclear weapons. Those weapons are aimed at the United States. Yet Mr. Pollard has now been in prison for 16 years, having plead guilty to one count of conveying classified information to an American ally. The average time for such a sentence is two to four years. As Rabbi Schindler wrote to you, this arbitrary, excessively harsh treatment of Jonathan Pollard marks the point at which justice ends and vindictiveness begins.

  • You have, for example, granted amnesty to Puerto Rican terrorists involved in violent attacks against this country. At the same time, U.S. policy has approved Israel's release of hundreds of Palestinian Arab terrorists as a "confidence builder" for negotiations, yet Mr. Pollard - whose crime was non-violent and whose intention was to help an ally, not harm the United States, remains imprisoned;

  • Mr. Pollard did not, despite some claims to contrary, commit treason or spy for an enemy;

  • The "grave damage" he was alleged to have caused U.S. national security has never been substantiated publicly.

  • He cooperated with investigators after his arrest and accepted a guilty plea in exchange for a "substantial sentence" - usually up to 10 years;

  • And his life sentence was imposed only after an unusual intervention with the trial judge by the then-secretary of defense, who filed an affidavit erroneously accusing Mr. Pollard of treason. This was done without proper notice to or review by Mr. Pollard's counsel, in violation of his constitutional rights.

Many Americans - Jews and non-Jews - and other leading organizations in addition to B'nai Brith International have called on you to release Mr. Pollard. We believe this action is long overdue. We urge you not to let your opportunity to do justly in this matter - balancing justice, already served, with mercy, not yet displayed - pass unfulfilled.

We look forward to your affirmative response.



Richard D. Heideman - International President
Tommy P. Baer - Immediate Past President
Seymour D. Reich - Past President

See Also:
  • Calls for Pollard's Release
  • The Jewish Unity Page