American Rabbis Ask Bush to Give Pollard Clemency
Times Ad Unites Broad Segment of American Jewry in Coalition
The Jerusalem Post - October 25, 1992
NEW YORK - A full-page ad in Friday's New York Times, signed by a broad-based
coalition of hundreds of American rabbis, called on US President George Bush
to commute the life sentence of Jonathan Pollard.
Presidential clemency is now the only option open to Pollard, a naval
intelligence official who was sentenced to life in prison in 1985 for passing
US military secrets to Israel. Last week, the US Supreme Court refused to
hear his petition to retract his guilty plea and stand trial.
The Pollard case has badly split the American Jewish community, with
grass-roots coalitions deploring the reticence of major Jewish organizations
to come forward on his behalf.
The Times' ad, representing a cross-section of more than 560 rabbis from all
four movements, is the first major public statement of support for clemency
for Pollard. Signators include the heads of the seminaries and national
rabbinic organizations of the Orthodox, Conservative, Reform and
"This coalition is an extraordinary statement of consensus," said Rabbi Avi
Weiss, national president of Amcha, which organized the ad, and a long-time
Pollard supporter. "I don't believe this happened, even for [Natan]
The ad reads, in part, "We in no way condone acts of espionage. We nonetheless
call upon you, Mr. President, to recognize that the lifetime sentence imposed
upon Jonathan Pollard is unduly harsh and grossly inconsistent with the
punishment given to other Americans convicted of similar and even worse
Major Jewish community relations organizations have not come out in support of
clemency for Pollard. "This is not a Jewish issue, and this ad does not make
it one," said Philip Baum, a leader of the AJC and chairman of the National
Jewish Community Relations Advisory Council's committee on Pollard. "I don't
know of anything in this case that demands a response from the Jewish
That position, Weiss said, shows how out of touch the leadership of US Jewish
organizations is with the grass roots. "There is a tremendous chasm between
these elite organizations and the people. This ad proves that Pollard's case,
and the commutation of his sentence to time served, is a priority issue on the
American Jewish scene. This has nothing to do with dual loyalty. He was
tried as an American, but convicted as a Jew."
Weiss said Bush has seen the ad, but he did not know his reaction. He also
said the rabbinic coalition plans to bring its appeal directly to the
president and to Gov. Bill Clinton, via a personal delegation before the
The group hopes to raise enough money to place the same ad in The Washington
Pollard supporters are to hold a rally in New York today.