An Open Letter to the President of the United States
Re: Jonathan Pollard

Rabbi Shlomo Aviner, Chief Rabbi of Bet El
B'Ahava u B'Emunah (Machon Meir) - November 11, 2008

Dear President Bush,

I hope this letter finds you well, as you successfully complete your second term as President.

First of all, we would like to say to you that we, the nation that dwells in Zion, greatly admire the manifold efforts you made on behalf of our security over the years. Your good works, in assisting Israel, the nation that exists forever, shall be to your eternal credit and shall bring you everlasting blessing.

Your record of good work renders us certain that you understand the motives of Jonathan Pollard when he acted on behalf of our security, passing on to us information about unconventional Arab weapons against us and about preparations for Arab terror activities against us - information that saved many lives in Israel.

It is true that through his actions he committed crimes against the United States, but he received his punishment, serving twenty-three years of prison under very difficult conditions. Jonathan Pollard is the only man in the history of the United States to receive a

life sentence

for passing on intelligence information to a friendly U.S. ally, with the maximum punishment for such a crime being ten years, and the average time served being between two and four years. And indeed, the President of the United States is entitled to grant a pardon without providing any explanation, although in this case, certainly, there is a logical basis for doing so.

Moreover, His Honor is certainly aware that top-echelon figures in the United States, who previously were opposed to Pollard's release, now support a pardon. For example, during the winter of 2006, James Woolsey, a former head of the C.I.A., stated at the Herzliya Conference on Iran and the Second World War:

"When I was in the American Government, we examined Pollard's whole file. At the time I was against his early release, because he really did steal secret materials from the American Government, and in defense of the privileged information of the American People, I thought such a person should be punished. Now, after he has spent twenty years in prison, my opinion, which I already expressed in the Jerusalem Post, is that twenty years is more than enough. We have to consider U.S.-Israel relations."

Therefore, we are turning to your exalted self, entreating you not to conduct yourself with strictness, but with mercy and forgiveness towards a man who has already paid twenty-three years, with great suffering, and who is suffering from very poor health. Please bring this episode to a humane close. In reward for this, G-d will bless you and will bless America.

Rabbi Shlomo Aviner