Obama receives Pollard clemency call from leading Jews
National Council of Young Israel executive VP gives US president note on behalf of Jewish leaders pleading for commutation of agent's sentence
Gil Hoffman The Jerusalem Post March 2, 2011
The Jewish leaders who met with US President Barack Obama at the White House on Tuesday did not raise the fate of Israeli agent Jonathan Pollard in their limited time with him, but one of them made sure Obama got the message.
Following the meeting, National Council of Young Israel executive vice president Rabbi Pesach Lerner, who has been the driving force behind efforts to bring about Pollard's release, went up to Obama and gave him a note pleading for his life sentence to be commuted.
"Mr. President, this is the question I was not able to ask you," Lerner told Obama. "It's about clemency for Jonathan Pollard."
Obama took the note and said, "Thank you, I will read it."
"After more than 25 years of incarceration, in view of his repeated expressions of remorse, and in light of Pollard's severely deteriorated health, we respectfully ask that you take into account the numerous calls for his release --by the Prime Minister and Knesset of Israel, and by numerous former senior US government officials-- and commute Jonathan Pollard's sentence to time served without further delay," Lerner wrote in the note.
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations chairman Alan Solow and executive vice chairman Malcolm Hoenlein, who organized the meeting, discussed Pollard's fate during preparatory talks with White House staff.
During a conference call of the Jewish leaders ahead of the meeting with Obama, a consensus was in favor of asking questions about Pollard.
After the meeting, some people involved in the effort to bring about Pollard's release were concerned that no question was formally asked about his fate in the meeting with Obama, but others were satisfied that the message was received.