Pollard's supporters call on Hillary
to say where she stands on clemency
JTA - December 6, 1999 - Jeannine Mercer
NEW YORK, Dec. 6 (JTA) Supporters of clemency for Jonathan Pollard are
putting pressure on the first lady to take a stand on whether the
convicted spy for Israel should be freed.
To a crowd of roughly 250 people* in front of Hillary Rodham Clinton's
Manhattan campaign headquarters, the answer is clear: "Free Pollard
now." That was the chant repeated by those who gathered Sunday to urge
the unofficial U.S. Senate candidate to address the issue.
"We want to know where Hillary stands on the Jonathan Pollard issue.
What does she feel in her heart?" asked Dov Hikind, a New York state
assemblyman from Brooklyn, to approval from the crowd behind him.
Pollard, a former U.S. Navy intelligence analyst, was convicted of
espionage in 1985 for passing secret U.S. military information to
Israel. Pollard has served 14 years of a life sentence.
Critics have charged that Pollard's sentence is harsher than those of
other spies in similar cases.
"Hillary needs to make a decision. There is no reason Pollard should be
in jail for so long," said Batsheva Epstein, who organized a group of 20
students from Touro College's Flatbush division to attend the rally.
New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, who will likely become Clinton's
Republican opponent for the Senate seat, has already said that Pollard's
life sentence is "way beyond the sentence served by other people that
have been convicted of the same offense."
Yet Hikind said Clinton's support is more important than Giuliani's
because she is the president's wife.
"This is a wonderful opportunity for us to take advantage of her
Senate candidacy to do something that is just," Hikind said. "This is
going to be a big issue throughout her campaign. She can't stand away
from it much longer."
Clinton's campaign office did not return phone calls for comment.
Pollard's wife, Esther, accused the first lady of "ducking" the issue.
"We're not telling her what to do, but we feel that she should look at
the facts and take a position, and let due process take its course."
Esther Pollard said in a phone interview with JTA.
Esther Pollard has waited with increased exasperation since the Wye
agreement talks in October 1998, when President Clinton promised to
conduct a speedy review of her husband's case.
"Both Clintons have a real credibility problem," she said. "It would be
to Mrs. Clinton's credit and her husband's for her to take a stand
either way. Her Senate candidacy puts her in a unique position to
pressure the president for my husband's clemency, but if she chooses not
to support his freedom, well, that will speak volumes to the voters in
At Hikind's rally, a few local rabbis and representatives from various
Jewish organizations also took turns at the microphone, while the crowd
held cardboard posters stating "Hillary: Let Jonathan Go!" and yelled
"Enough Is Enough!" between speakers.
In a similar event Aug. 29, some 50 people showed up to support the
cause. "This time we have hundreds stretching to the corner," Hikind
said, and told the crowd, "You made Jonathan Pollard smile today. He
feels better today because of what you have done."
*Justice for Jonathan Pollard Note: Both this event and the one held
in August were press conferences and not heavily-advertised
demonstrations, therefore the crowds that showed up at both events were surprisingly
large! Eye-witness reports all refer to larger numbers of participants
than cited in this JTA report.
For further information see the Senate Page.