life sentence after entering into a plea bargain agreement with the government. He entered into that agreement, relinquished his right to a trial, cooperated with government investigators, pleaded guilty - all with the reasonable expectation that some leniency would be shown in his sentence. The expectation was reasonable, but it proved illusory. The "bargain" was all one-sided.
Perhaps most incredibly of all, Pollard was sentenced to life in prison despite the fact that he was never accused of delivering classified information to an enemy of the United States. He was accused of spying for Israel, a staunch American ally.
A comparison of Pollard's sentence with those recently received by other convicted spies - some of whom spied for enemy countries, some who did not plea bargain - reveals an incredible and inexplicable disparity. How, for example, can one justify imprisoning Pollard for life when William Bell received only an eight year sentence for delivering antitank missile radar technology to a Polish agent (N.Y. Times, January 9, 1981)? When Abdelhader Helmy received a 46 month sentence for illegally exporting to Egypt classified ballistic missile technology (N.Y. Times, December 7, 1989)? When Richard Miller received a 20 year sentence for a delivering counter-intelligence manual to the Soviet Union (N.Y. Times, February 5, 1991)?
Agudath Israel of America's national board voted last year to support Pollard's request for commutation of sentence. As you can well imagine, Mr. President, this was not an easy decision for our organization to reach. Espionage is among the most abhorrent of all crimes, and Jonathan Pollard has admitted that he committed espionage. One need not condone Pollard's act, however, to understand the sense among many Americans that the incredible severity of Pollard's punishment is entirely out of proportion to the harm he committed.
Many thanks for attention to this urgent humanitarian plea. I hope we will have occasion to meet again soon. For now, you have my every best wish and prayer for continued great success.
Rabbi Morris Sherer
President, Agudath Israel of America
See also Rabbi Sherer's 1994 Letter To Clinton