Democrat fundraiser reports being rebuffed by Obama on the release of Pollard
WorldTribune.com - July 15, 2011
WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama, despite appeals from Israel and leading American Jews, has not demonstrated any willingness to release former U.S. Navy analyst Jonathan Pollard.
Lobbyists for the release of Pollard, sentenced to life on charges of relaying classified information to Israel, have reported a cold reception by Obama and his aides. They said Obama, despite numerous appeals by former senior defense and intelligence officials, has given no indication that he intends to release Pollard, imprisoned since 1985.
"The administration, especially Obama, sees Pollard as an Israeli issue and not a humanitarian issue," a lobbyist involved in the campaign said.
Over the last year, the lobbyists have included major Jewish contributors to the Democratic Party and to Obama, who received 78 percent of the Jewish vote in 2008. The lobbyists said the White House as well as Obama himself have received direct appeals for Pollard's release.
On July 13, an Israeli political analyst, Aaron Lerner, reported a brief conversation between an unnamed Jewish contributor to the Democrats and Obama. The exchange took place at a recent kosher fund-raising dinner for Obama's re-election campaign, which required donations of at least $20,000.
Lerner said the Jewish contributor asked Obama whether he would release Pollard. The contributor said he solicited money from Jews for the dinner on condition that he raise Pollard's case with the president.
"Are they bugging you, too?" Obama asked the Democratic activist.
"Yes, the Jewish community is bugging me," the contributor replied.
"The Israelis are bugging me too," Obama said.
The Democratic contributor told the president that Pollard marked "an important issue in the Jewish community today. We all feel it's time for him to be released."
Obama, Lerner reported, did not reply.
At that point, the Democratic contributor said that he donated and raised "a lot of money" for the president. He told Obama that "many of those who gave me money only gave it to me on the condition that I ask you the question about Pollard."
"There was no response from the president," Lerner reported. "The conversation was closed."
Lerner said the exchange with Obama raised questions whether the White House was taking seriously the campaign for Pollard's freedom.
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