Orthodox, Conservative, & Reform Jewish Groups Unite Behind President Peres'
Personal Appeal For Pollard's Release
April 20, 2012
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
ORTHODOX, CONSERVATIVE, AND REFORM JEWISH GROUPS UNITE BEHIND PRESIDENT
PERES' PERSONAL APPEAL FOR POLLARD'S RELEASE
In an extraordinary display of unity, representatives of the Orthodox,
Conservative, and Reform Jewish movements all renewed their calls for
clemency for Jonathan Pollard. In their appeals to President Obama, the
Jewish leaders threw their weight behind an official request from Israeli
President Shimon Peres to President Obama in which he formally asked that
Jonathan Pollard be immediately released.
President Peres is scheduled to receive the Medal of Freedom from President
Obama in June. The obvious irony of Mr. Peres receiving the Freedom medal
while Pollard languishes in an American jail is keenly felt in Israel. To
date, nearly 50,000 Israelis have signed a petition which urges Peres to use
his influence and standing in Washington to ensure that Pollard is released
before the upcoming medal ceremony, so that all Israelis can take pride in
this achievement. [View the petition at http://www.atzuma.co.il/medal or go
to http://www.jonathanpollard.org/2012/032612b.htm to view the English
The calls for Pollard's release came from the Union for Reform Judaism, the
United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, the National Council of Young
Israel, Agudath Israel of America, and the Orthodox Union. In addition, the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, which is
the central coordinating body representing 51 national Jewish organizations
on issues of national and international concern, also contacted the
President and renewed its call for clemency for Pollard.
AGUDATH ISRAEL DECRIES "CRUELTY"
In his letter to President Obama, Rabbi David Zweibel, Esq., the Executive
Vice President Agudath Israel of America, expressed deep dismay at the White
House’s cruelty in stonewalling on a response to the numerous clemency
requests that have been made for Pollard's release. The letter noted that
Pollard's failing health injects a note of urgency into the situation that
requires a swift response to his latest formal clemency request, which was
filed nearly two years ago.
"Whatever the ordinary protocol and timetable for the processing of
commutation of sentence applications, humanitarian considerations dictate
that Mr. Pollard's dire health status should prompt an expedited review of
his application," said Zweibel. "As you may be aware, less than two weeks
ago on April 5, Mr. Pollard was hospitalized due to an emergency condition.
He was released from the hospital this Sunday, April 15, and is now back in
prison. Still, his medical condition is serious and has been deteriorating
for some time, as many people who have visited him recently have testified.
Under these circumstances, allowing the review process on his commutation
application to stretch on indeterminately seems particularly cruel."
"Please, Mr. President, have mercy on this man who has languished in federal
prison for more than 26 long and debilitating years, and whose very life may
well be hanging in the balance," continued Zweibel. "The time is now to at
long last respond - favorably - to his application for commutation of
URJ: "WE URGE IMMEDIATE CLEMENCY"
"We respectfully request that the Obama Administration heed Israeli
President Peres' request that President Obama grant Jonathan Pollard
clemency on humanitarian grounds," said Rabbi Rick Jacobs, President of the
Union for Reform Judaism, which represents more than 900 congregations
throughout North America and an estimated 1.5 million Jews. "Under the U.S.
criminal system, we think this is precisely the appropriate standard
justifying clemency. First, Jonathan Pollard has been incarcerated for
nearly 27 years, after pleading guilty to espionage to an ally. While we do
not condone Mr. Pollard's actions, we believe he has served his time. In
studying precedents, no other individual convicted of similar crimes has
served such a lengthy sentence. Further, the humanitarian justification is
intensified by his deteriorating health condition."
"We urge immediate clemency so that he may be surrounded by his loved ones
while trying to recover from a grave illness that put him in the hospital
over the Passover holiday," continued Jacobs. "Clemency is both the just
and compassionate response in this situation."
CONFERENCE OF PRESIDENTS SAYS PERES IS JUDICIOUS, LISTEN TO HIM!
"A few months ago we visited Jonathan Pollard in prison and came away
concerned about his health and the medical challenges he faced," said
Richard Stone, Chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American
Jewish Organizations, and Malcolm Hoenlein, its Executive Vice Chairman.
"The news of his hospitalization has augmented those concerns. We join
President Shimon Peres and scores of American intellectual, religious,
political, and civic leaders in appealing for his prompt release. Given his
clear expressions of remorse and pledges regarding his activities upon
release, we believe the commutation of his unprecedentedly long sentence to
the 27 years he has already served is warranted."
"President Peres is a cautious and judicious person and his letter comes
only after much deliberation," continued Stone and Hoenlein. "We appreciate
your kind consideration of his request which we strongly support."
NCYI: "A TERRIBLE INJUSTICE AND AN ABSOLUTE TRAGEDY"
"After more than a quarter of a century languishing in a federal prison, it
is time for the United States to allow Jonathan Pollard to go home," said
Rabbi Pesach Lerner, the Executive Vice President of the National Council of
Young Israel, which has more than 25,000 member families, and over 200
branch synagogues throughout the United States, Canada, and Israel. "We
sincerely hope that President Obama will promptly heed President Peres' call
for Jonathan's immediate release and do the right thing before it is too
late. Jonathan's medical condition has worsened considerably, and absent
White House intervention on humanitarian grounds, he faces a frightening and
"When one considers the disproportionate nature of Jonathan Pollard's
sentence, his continued expressions of remorse, and the multiple calls for
his release from respected members of the national intelligence community,
his ongoing incarceration defies logic and is a glaring miscarriage of
justice," continued Lerner. "Every day that passes that Jonathan Pollard
remains in prison is a terrible injustice and an absolute tragedy."
UNITED SYNAGOGUE: SEND POLLARD HOME TO HIS FAMILY NOW
"United Synagogue joins Jewish and other religious organizations, members of
Congress and other elected officials, and leaders across the world, in
requesting that President Obama proceed with urgency in releasing Jonathan
Pollard from prison," said Rabbi Steven Wernick, CEO and Executive Vice
President of the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, and Richard
Skolnik, the International President of the United Synagogue of Conservative
Judaism, which serves as a resource to more than 600 affiliated Conservative
synagogues across North America.
"Pollard has been in prison since 1985 - nearly 27 years - serving longer
than any other person convicted of espionage against the United States,"
continued Wernick and Skolnik. "Israeli President Shimon Peres also has
asked the Obama administration to grant Pollard clemency for humanitarian
reasons. Pollard's actions were not right or legal, but he has pled guilty
and he has served his time. Now, the right and moral thing for the U.S.
government to do is to permit him to spend time with his family, as he
struggles to recover his health."
OU SAYS "ENOUGH"
"As the Vice President is aware, I joined with other American Jewish leaders
to discuss this delicate matter with him in depth on November 21, 2011,"
said Dr. Simcha Katz, President of the Orthodox Union. "While I do not
excuse or dismiss the grave transgressions Mr. Pollard committed, I do,
however, believe....clemency on humanitarian grounds is warranted."
ESTHER POLLARD'S PLEADS FOR HELP; PRES. PERES ISSUES PERSONAL APPEAL
Peres' formal request to the President came just days after Pollard became
extremely ill and was rushed from his prison cell to an outside hospital for
emergency medical treatment. Esther Pollard, Jonathan's wife, met with
Peres and issued an impassioned plea for his assistance in ensuring that her
husband is released, rather than being returned to prison, following his
Pollard has spent more than 26 years of an unprecedented life sentence
languishing in a federal prison for passing classified information to
Israel, an ally of the United States. The median sentence for this offense
is 2 to 4 years. No one else in the history of the United States has ever
received a life sentence for this offense.
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