Why was the Pollard clemency bid dismissed?
J4JPnews - January 21, 2008
In spite of the heart-breaking outcome, Jonathan and Esther Pollard want to
express their deepest thanks and appreciation to Rabbi Pesach Lerner and the
National Council of Young Israel which spearheaded the Pollard clemency
campaign in the United States; to Andrew Brooke and all of the J4JP Team; to
Nissan GanOr and The Committee to Bring Jonathan Pollard Home; to our
attorneys in the US and in Israel, to our family, friends and massive
grassroots supporters -- for all that they have done over the last while, to
participate in an intensive campaign to secure justice for Jonathan via
Given the blood, sweat and tears that went into this campaign, it is deeply
troubling that it was not successful. President Bush is gone and Jonathan,
unjustly, remains in prison. We are, of course, deeply disappointed and
very, very sad. Now that we have absorbed the initial blow and dried our
tears, everyone is asking what went wrong.
Why did the Campaign Fail?
This was no ordinary campaign. After 24 years, we pulled out all stops in
working for Jonathan's release. We had the best lawyers. They filed a
dynamite petition that really explained the massive injustice and clearly
demonstrated the gross disproportionality of Jonathan's sentence. We worked
around the clock lobbying and making the right contacts. We had access to
the White House and intensive behind-the-scenes contact. We had
recommendations from those who matter most in the clemency process. We had
massive grassroots support and participation in the US and Israel. In short,
we left no stone unturned in doing whatever it took to present the best case
to the President for commutation of Jonathan's life sentence to the 24 years
he has already served.
Unfortunately, the hurdle we were not able to overcome, was a President who
simply decided to dismiss all high profile petitions out of hand. All of
the high-profile petitions -- ones that might evoke the slightest
controversy-- were left to the very end, and then simply ignored.
Why? We don't really know.
Perhaps it was to avoid the kind of controversy that Bill Clinton created
with a flurry of tainted pardons on his last day in office. Or perhaps for
"legacy" purposes, so Bush might continue his reputation as a president who
is very sparing with his power of clemency. So rather than pick and chose
which high profile petitions to grant, Bush simply dismissed them all.
While this may sound even-handed, it is not if you consider that most of the
other high profile petitions for pardons came from people who are not even
in prison! Some never served any time, or they did time years ago and now
they seek a pardon simply to restore some of their civil rights. Others
have yet to stand trial, but hope to pre-empt a sentence by having a pardon
wipe out their crime. Few petitioners are actually in prison and they are
serving relatively short sentences.
Only Jonathan is in his 24th year of a life sentence for an offense that has
a median sentence of 2 to 4 years.
When President Bush chose to ignore Pollard's petition along with all of
the other petitions filed by those who are not prison nor in peril, he
effectively compounded the injustice.
If the Government of Israel had weighed in on Jonathan's behalf with
President Bush in a meaningful way, perhaps the end result might have been
different. But that was not the case. Even after 24 years, the abandonment
and betrayal of an agent in peril continues. Olmert, Livni, Barak and the
whole gang remain devoted to those operations that will secure their own
seats of power, and have little concern for the average Israeli, let alone
concern for captives like Pollard or Shalit.
Israeli President Peres received pleas both publicly and privately for his
intervention on behalf of Pollard. He managed to deflect them all.
So what next?
First of all, we are going to take a breather and regroup. In the meantime,
remember, G-d still runs the world. Now more than ever is the time for
prayer. This time we are praying for an open miracle: Jonathan home. Alive.
JUSTICE FOR JONATHAN POLLARD