President Clinton - Grant Pollard Clemency

Jewish Journal [Broward]- Editorial - January 4, 2001

"We don't see anti-semitism lurking under every rock; but the question we must ask is, what government bureaucrats are behind this inexplicable insistence that only Jonathan Pollard should serve a life sentence for what others have paid for with only five years of imprisonment?"

There are no winners in this saga - Jonathan Pollard, the State of Israel and the U.S. government have acted in an appalling manner.

Starting with Pollard. He is no hero. He is a convicted spy and an embarrassment to the Jewish community. As a naval intelligence analyst, he owed an allegiance to this country. He violated that commitment in passing classified information to Israel, albeit a friendly ally of the U.S. He deserved to be incarcerated. But we believe that he did not deserve a life sentence. The average sentence for this type of crime is five years.

Israel committed a much graver error than Pollard. We know that it is common for nations to spy on their own allies (the U.S. was caught spying on France a few years ago); but for Israel to use an American Jew endangered the American Jewish community. It exposed us to the anti-semites who have falsely charged us with dual loyalty. It was a stupid act with no consideration for its consequences. It is a testimony to the liberality and openness of American society that there was no anti-semitic backlash from the Pollard affair.

The subsequent actions of the U.S. government have been equally appalling as those of Israel. Anxious to avoid a trial that would have shown that much of what Pollard passed to the Israelis was due to them under a joint 1983 Memorandum of Understanding, the government accepted a plea bargain. The day before sentencing, then-Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger (who subsequently needed a pardon for himself) presented an 85-page brief labelling Pollard a traitor. Pollard was never charged with treason (spying for an enemy in time of war). The Court sentenced Pollard to life. Pollard's appeal was rejected by a United States Court of Appeals on a technicality, but Appellate Justice Stephen Williams wrote in his minority opinion that Pollard's case reflected "a complete and gross miscarriage of justice."

Pollard is certainly repentant (See his letter to President Clinton asking for clemency on this page.) The American Jewish community has seen the injustice of Pollard's continued incarceration. He is entering his 15th year in prison. [J4JP: 16th year] Organizations from the Orthodox Union to the UAHC (Reform Judaism's central body) to the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, have written President Clinton asking for clemency.

We don't see anti-semitism lurking under every rock; but the question we must ask is, what government bureaucrats are behind this inexplicable insistence that only Jonathan Pollard should serve a life sentence for what others have paid for with only five years of imprisonment?

Why is this case so different? We just don't know. But it's time to put this behind us. We urge our readers to call the White House at (202) 456-1414 and register their requests to President Clinton to grant clemency to Jonathan Pollard.


  • See Also: Jonathan Pollard's Letter to President Clinton