Editorial: A Plea for Mercy
Hamodia Weekly Editorial [Print Edition]– November 28 2012
Dear President Obama:
As you are well aware, a month ago the East Coast suffered devastating
damage, as a powerful hurricane destroyed entire communities, bringing
mayhem and upheaval to the lives of thousands. The sea surged past its
natural borders, engulfing entire homes with corrosive saltwater.
As New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, a Republican and a staunch supporter
of Mitt Romney, remarked at the time, you and your staff fully extended
yourselves during those most stressful days. Twice you personally visited
the afflicted areas and expressed your empathy for the victims. You praised
the compassion shown by the first responders and the many volunteers who
gave time and resources to help those in need.
In your recent visit to Staten Island, you urged the insurance companies and
others in the private sector “to show some heart and some spirit in helping
As millions of Americans come to terms with a new reality as they continue
to struggle to recover and rebuild in the aftermath of this terrible storm,
it is a time for reflection and contemplation. It is a time to rethink what
has long been accepted, and to forge a new path ahead.
Mr. President: We respectfully ask you to adopt a new approach towards an
individual in deteriorating health, a man who nearly three decades ago made
a serious mistake — but has repeatedly expressed his sincere remorse, and
has more than paid his duties to society.
There can be no doubt that what Jonathan Pollard did was wrong, and as he
has himself stated, there is no justification for breaking the law.
But after 27 years behind bars, there is no longer any justification for
keeping him in prison either.
Jim Woolsey is considered a hardliner on matters of national security. When
he served as Director of the CIA in the early 1990s, he opposed granting
clemency to Pollard. A decade later, he announced that the time had come to
release him, pointing out that all other individuals charged with the crime
of spying for an ally, without intent to harm the United States, had served
far shorter sentences. A few months ago, Woolsey went so far as to imply
that the fact that Pollard is Jewish may help explain his continued
“For those hung up for some reason on the fact that he’s an American Jew,
pretend he’s a Greek- or Korean- or Filipino-American and free him,” Woolsey
wrote in a letter to the Wall Street Journal.
As you are aware, under the terms of his plea agreement, the prosecution
promised not to seek a life sentence. It was a classified memorandum
submitted by then-Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger that convinced the
judge to ignore the agreement and give Pollard a life sentence.
In his letter asking you to grant clemency to Pollard, Dr. Lawrence Korb,
who served as Assistant Secretary of Defense at the time of Pollard’s arrest
stated, “Based on my first-hand knowledge, I can say with confidence that
the severity of Pollard’s sentence is a result of an almost visceral dislike
of Israel and the special place it occupies in our foreign policy on the
part of my boss at the time, Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger.”
Mr. President: In recent days, in your public statements during the Gaza
crisis, you reaffirmed the deep friendship that exists between the United
States and the state of Israel. You showed compassion to those injured by
the terrorist rocket fire and empathy to the multitudes of civilians living
in fear, and suffering deep trauma from the relentless blitz of short- and
long-range missiles from Gaza.
The time has long come to undo the damage caused by Weinberger’s “visceral
dislike” of Israel.
As you are an expert and former professor in constitutional law, we
respectfully request that you take note of the fact that neither Mr. Pollard
nor his attorneys — who have top-secret-level security clearance — have ever
been allowed access to the Weinberger memorandum; they are therefore unable
to dispute its contents. Furthermore, Pollard is the victim of gross
malpractice by his first attorney, who failed to file a timely appeal to his
The President and Prime Minister of Israel have publicly pleaded with you to
grant clemency to this broken, long-suffering soul. Organizations
representing large segments of American Jewry have done so as well.
In ten days the Jewish nation will begin to celebrate the holiday of
Chanukah. At a gathering marking the occasion at the White House last year,
you remarked that for the past 2,000 years, the story of Chanukah “has given
hope to Jews everywhere who are struggling.”
In the name of fairness and justice, we beseech you to show your compassion
and use the powers granted to you in the United States Constitution and
commute Mr. Pollard’s sentence to time served.
Allowing Mr. Pollard to light the candles this year as a free man would not
only be a great kindness to an individual, it would be a greatly appreciated
gesture to American and world Jewry.