Montreal-led pro-Pollard petition to greet Peres

David Lazarus - Canadian Jewish News - May 8, 2012

MONTREAL - The Israeli consulate in Montreal will pass on a petition to visiting Israeli president Shimon Peres on May 10 affirming local rabbinic and academic support of his efforts in seeking U.S. clemency for convicted Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard.

The petition, spearheaded by 21-year-old McGill University student Russel Sitrit-Leibovitch, supports Peres' "humanitarian appeal" to U.S. President Barack Obama for clemency in the case of Pollard, 57, an American convicted in 1987 of spying for Israel.

Peres is scheduled to speak to the Montreal Jewish community in the morning at Congregation Shaar Hashomayim.

"We would like to encourage you and to ask that you act according to the best of your abilities so that your appeal will be answered in the affirmative," the petition states.

It is signed by 26 local mainstream Orthodox and haredi rabbis, including Montreal Chief Rabbi Bejamin Weiss and Rabbi David Sabbah, identified as "Quebec chief rabbi."

The three academic signatories are McGill professors Gil Troy and Carl Saltzman, and Frederick Krantz, a professor at Concordia University and director of the Canadian Institute for Jewish Research.

In June, Peres is due to be awarded the U.S. Medal of Freedom by Obama, at which time the Israeli president is expected to present him with pro-Pollard petitions signed by tens of thousands of Israelis, Knesset members, and Jews and other supporters around the world.

Speaking from Israel, Sitrit-Leibovitch told The CJN that he thought of the petition April 29 upon learning of Peres' impending state visit to Canada.

Pollard's imprisonment "has gone on too long," he said.

Sitrit-Leibovitch said that news of the Canadian-led petition was also due to be featured May 8 on Israel's Channel 2 news in the context of a report on Peres' visit.

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