Bereaved Families Appeal to U.S. Ambassador on Behalf of Pollard

Hamodia Staff - Hamodia USA, Print Edition, Front Page - November 17, 2011

YERUSHALAYIM - A group of 70 families of terrorist victims in Israel sent a letter yesterday morning to U.S. Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro, appealing for his help in gaining the freedom of Israeli agent Jonathan Pollard after more than 26 years in prison.

During the past year, dozens of senior American defense and justice officials have joined in the campaign to free Pollard. Among them are Secretaries of State Christopher and Schultz, CIA chief James Woolsey, as well as other elected officials who are familiar with the facts of the case, including classified information. At this time of year, when U.S. presidents traditionally grant amnesties - an appeal of a different type is being made, one directed to the heart of President Obama.

Only a month ago, these bereaved families were torn between the tremendous desire to see Gilad Shalit return home, and the terrible price of freeing the terrorists who murdered their loved ones. Some of the families supported, and even acted, on behalf of the Shalit deal, and some opposed it. However, at this time, dozens of families on both sides of the issue have joined together in the struggle to free Jonathan Pollard.

Among the central figures in this campaign are Yehudah and Esther Wachsman, whose son Nachshon was kidnapped and killed by terrorists in 1994. Now, his parents have sent a letter to the American ambassador to Israel, Dan Shapiro, to request an urgent meeting in his office together with other parents in the group.

"We are asking you to make every effort to hold this meeting by next week, especially due to the fact that during these very days begins the season of clemency in the United States." The embassy notified the families that their letter has been passed on to the ambassador.

Among the bereaved who have joined in this initiative is singer Ruchama Raz, whose sister was murdered in the attack on Bus Route 405. "I know there are many senior officials in the U.S., including those who in the past opposed, and today strongly support, freeing Pollard," said Raz. "But I believe that our appeal in particular, which is of a humanitarian nature, will be able to tip the scales and end this terrible tragedy."

"The value of saving a human life is a sacred value," said Yaniv Chen, whose brother Yaron was kidnapped and murdered by terrorists. "We have paid a painful price for this value, which will stay with us for the rest of our lives. President Obama has an opportunity to save a life, when the only price will be to do the just and moral thing, that will not cost anything. It is absolutely clear that this imprisonment must come to an end."

Barring any change at the last moment, in less than a week, on November 21, 2011, the Israeli agent Jonathan Pollard will begin serving his 27th year in prison. This, against a background of reports of his failing health and the opinion of so many senior officials that his continued imprisonment is a terrible travesty of justice.

The bereaved families say they are very hopeful that the ambassador will answer their appeal. "Ambassador Dan Shapiro is known as a man who is truly interested in hearing what the Israeli public wants. We believe and hope that he will take these words to heart and meet with us in the coming days. He also knows that it is a matter of pikuach nefesh."

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