A Phone Call A Day For Pollard

Hillel Fendel - Arutz7 News - August 28, 2007

With the US government closing in on its 22nd year of incarcerating Israeli agent Jonathan Pollard, the public is called on once again to clamor for his release.

The public is asked to phone US President George W. Bush every day, until Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement, Sep. 22), asking him to pardon Jonathan Pollard. A full-page ad will appear in some 20 national, regional and community Jewish papers throughout the United States this weekend, calling on all concerned citizens to take part.

Copies of the ad, which include endorsements by rabbinic and political leaders, have also been sent to Jewish day schools, rabbis, and community leaders. The call is sponsored by the National Council of Young Israel and the Rabbi Leib Geliebter Foundation.

Citizens in the US and around the world are asked to call the White House between the hours of 10 AM and 4 PM EST, once a day, at 202-456-1414, and say, "Please release Jonathan Pollard. 22 years in prison is more than enough."

Never accused, indicted or convicted of treason, Pollard was convicted only of one count of passing classified information to an ally, with no intent to harm the U.S. He passed information to Israel which the United States was obligated to share with Israel according to a 1983 letter of understanding signed by the two nations.

The average sentence for this crime is 2-4 years, yet Pollard was sentenced to life in prison - in abrogation of a plea bargain to which he had agreed.

Endorsements and Quotes

The ad includes quotes from leading Torah sages Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv of Jerusalem and Rabbi Aaron Leib Shteinman of Bnei Brak, who recently wrote an unprecedented letter to Bush asking him to pardon Pollard.

"The mitzvah [religious duty] of Pidyon Shvuyim [redeeming captives] applies to Jonathan Pollard, and it is a compulsory Torah command for all of the nation of Israel," former Israeli Chief Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu has said.

Former CIA Director James Woolsey recently told Arutz-7's IsraelNationalRadio, "My view is that a 20-year sentence, I think, is enough... I think the close relationship between United States and Israel as fellow democracies is also a consideration so, at this point, I think Pollard has served a long enough sentence."

U.S. judicial experts, too, have decried the injustice of the sentence. Federal Judge Stephen Williams of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia said that the "government's breach of the plea agreement was a fundamental miscarriage of justice."

On the other hand, there are those in the Jewish community who continue to insist that Pollard deserves his punishment. To them, Rabbi Shlomo Aviner, Dean of Yeshivat Ateret Cohanim in the Old City of Jerusalem, has responded as follows: Jonathan mourns... not for himself, but for [the Biblical] Joseph who was thrown into the pit, and for all the subsequent "Josephs" who were thrown into all kinds of pits. Jonathan is the current "Joseph" through which our nation is being tested. He is mourning for his brothers' still-unrectified sin of selling the original Joseph.

Jonathan ... has been there for almost 22 years. That is a long time for reflection. He still asks the same questions that remain unanswered. Why is his sentence so much more severe than anyone else who committed a similar offense in the U.S.? Why is he the only one in the history of the U.S. to get a life sentence for passing classified information to an ally? And why is his life sentence more severe than even those who spied for enemy nations? ... Why are his security-cleared attorneys not permitted to see the classified portions of his own court docket? Why is such a terrible injustice being perpetrated against him? Why?

Jonathan... is aching for his brothers who threw him into it. He remembers that they promised him: "You are our brother. We will protect you. If you ever need us, just go straight to the Israeli Embassy in Washington and let us handle everything." Yet when he sought refuge at the Embassy, as he recalls all too well, they threw him out - right into the waiting arms of the law. Not only did his brothers deliver Jonathan up, they also provided the documents that were used to incriminate him. ...