The intensive lobbying effort by Israeli and American Jewish leaders to win a pardon for fugitive financier Marc Rich may have cost Jonathan Pollard to get relief from his life sentence, some Jewish leaders said this week.
And an Israeli newspaper is reporting that Rich supporters employed a strategy that played the billionaire pardon against Pollard, the American serving his 16th year for spying for Israel.
The newspaper, Yediot Achronot, quotes former White House officials contending that Rich's people pushed Prime Minister Ehud Barak to link the two case because, "They were counting on Clinton not freeing Pollard and on his giving them the pardon for Rich as a consolation prize."
Barak's office denied the connection, but Malcolm Hoenlien, executive vice president of the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations, contended that Israeli lobbying for Rich may have hurt any chances of clemency for Pollard, a former US Naval intelligence analyst. America's Intelligence community is vehemently against clemency for Pollard.
Hoenlien raised the question whether Pollard "paid the price for Rich".
"Mr. Pollard obviously feels that he was the victim, that if the same pressure had been applied for him as applied for Rich, maybe the outcome would have been different," Hoenlien said.
Rich's ex-wife, Denise, donated at least $1.5 million to the Clinton's, including $450,000 recently.
In an interview with Yediot, Pollard said he was stunned to discover that his request for clemency was linked to a pardon request for Rich. Pollard told the paper, " For 16 years I'v been waving the Israeli flag crying out to the Israeli political establishment for help. But with the Marc Rich clemency campaign, I realize that I made a mistake. I should have been waving bags of money instead to get their attention. These are the depths to which Israel's leaders have sunk.."
Some question Clinton's citing of Jewish lobbying for Rich as a factor in the ex-president's decision while intensive Jewish pressure for Pollard failed.
"It is deplorable that Bill Clinton would state that (Jewish Support) was the principle reason for his pardoning Marc Rich, when of course he had the same pressures from the same communities in both Israel and America, demanding Pollard's release, and that meant nothing to him," said Morton Klein, national president of the Zionist Organization of America.
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