Orthodox, Reform groups back Pollard clemency

The Jewish Telegraphic Agency [JTA] - October 12, 2010

(JTA) -- Orthodox and Reform Jewish groups are backing a letter circulating in the House of Representatives asking President Obama to extend clemency to Jonathan Pollard.

Pollard, a former civilian intelligence analyst for the U.S. Navy, has been serving a

life sentence

since 1985 for passing classified information to Israel.

U.S. Reps. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), Bill Pascrell (D- N.J.), Edolphus Towns (D-N.Y.) and Anthony Weiner (D- N.Y.) are circulating the letter among their colleagues and plan to submit it to Obama in the coming days.

The effort is backed by a number of Orthodox groups, including the National Council of Young Israel, the Orthodox Union and Agudath Israel, as well as by the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism.

The letter does not question Pollard's guilt or sentencing, but says that "There has been a great disparity from the standpoint of justice between the amount of time Mr. Pollard has served and the time that has been served -- or not served at all -- by many others who were found guilty of similar activity on behalf of nations adversarial to us, unlike Israel."

The letter also notes that the act of granting Pollard clemency could help in the current standoff over Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

"We further believe that at a time when Israel, our democratic ally, is being faced with difficult decisions, a decision by you to grant clemency would not only be a humane act regarding Mr. Pollard, but it would also be taken in Israel as a further affirmation of the strong commitment the U.S. has to the ties between us, and we believe that such an affirmation could be especially useful at a time when those decisions are being made," it said.

Reports last month, citing unnamed sources, suggested that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu might offer to extend the West Bank construction freeze in exchange for Pollard's release.

Justice4JP adds: In a statement given to the Jerusalem Post and published on the front page of the Jerusalem Post Print edition, Jonathan Pollard set the record straight. Pollard said: "Our American sources in Washington have confirmed that in recent weeks Prime Minister Netanyahu has not asked President Obama to release me," Pollard said in a statement delivered via his wife Esther.

"Our American sources in Washington have also confirmed that I have not been been on the agenda at all in recent contacts between the Netanyahu administration and the American administration."

  • See also:Pollard: PM hasn't asked Obama to free Me: Gil Hoffman - Jerusalem Post