NEW YORK - A new initiative has been launched that is intended to try to gain the release of Jonathan Pollard - who is now serving his 25th year of an unprecedented and unparalleled life sentence for passing classified intelligence to Israel, an American ally. Calls and letters by members of the community are now crucial.
Congressmen Barney Frank, Bill Pascrell, Edolphus Towns and Anthony Weiner have announced that they are circulating a letter in the House of Representatives, seeking other Members to join them in asking President Obama to extend clemency to Pollard.
According to Rabbi Pesach Lerner, Executive Vice President of National Council of Young Israel, who for many years has been at the forefront of efforts to help Pollard, this is the first time such a letter has been circulated in Congress.
"The more members of congress who sign this letter, the stronger the message will be to the president," Lerner told Hamodia. "We all need to call our members of Congress and request that they sign on, and if not, ask why; then we need to educate them on the real story," he implores.
Rabbi Lerner expressed gratitude to David Nyer, a Monsey resident who spearheaded this effort.
"He is a young man who cared and acted," Rabbi Lerner says.
In another noteworthy development, Professor Lawrence J. Korb, who served as Assistant Secretary of Defense when Pollard was arrested, has written to Obama calling for clemency.
"Based on my first-hand knowledge, I can say with confidence that the severity of Pollard's sentence is a result of an almost visceral dislike of Israel and the special place it occupies in our foreign policy on the part of my boss at the time, Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger.
"Secretary Weinberger submitted two affidavits to the court in order to convince the judge to give Pollard a harsher sentence than the one requested by the government, despite Pollard admitting guilt, plea bargaining and cooperating with the government," Korb says.
"The government committed to not seeking a life sentence but due to the Weinberger Affidavits, the redacted version of which I have read, Mr. Pollard received a disproportionate life sentence," he insists.
The appeal for clemency requested by the congressmen in their letter is based on the vast disparity between Mr. Pollard's sentence and the sentences given to many others who have been convicted of similar activities, even with countries that unlike Israel are or have been adversaries of the United States.
The letter also notes the positive impact that a grant of clemency would have in Israel, as a strong indication of the goodwill of our nation towards Israel and the Israeli people.
Time is of essence as the letter will be circulated in Congress for the next few days, and then sent to President Obama, most likely by the middle of October.
Our hishtadlus will also be closely observed Above, Rabbi Lerner suggests.
"The more calls we make, the stronger message we send to the Ribbono Shel Olam - that we ask of Him to send Pollard home," he says.
J4JP Adds:Emails are not recommended. Emails are not counted in the same way that phone calls and letters are, so please phone or write.
Find your U.S. Senator's phone number here.
Find Your U.S. Congressman's phone number here.