Tikkun Magazine Editor Calls on Clinton to Free Pollard


JANUARY 3, 1993 Attn: Nat'l Affairs/foreign desk ed.

Tikkun Magazine's editor, Michael Lerner, today called on President-Elect Bill Clinton to commute the life sentence of Jonathan Pollard. In a letter to Clinton, Lerner noted that he disapproved of Pollard's actions, but felt that the punishment was out of proportion to punishments for similar crimes. Lerner speculated that the punishment may have had more to do with the private angers of the then Secretary of Defense Weinberger than with the reality of the crime that Pollard committed. Lerner called on Clinton to free Pollard.

Michael Lerner's statement is particularly significant because it indicates a willingness of Jewish liberals to speak out on behalf of Pollard. Lerner is frequently quoted in the media for his criticism of Israeli policy toward Palestinians. His articles on American politics and culture have been reprinted in mainstream American newspapers for many years, and his analyses have been read and endorsed by Bill Clinton, among others. Bill Clinton told Lerner that he regularly reads and learns from Tikkun Magazine.

The text of the letter, mailed January 3rd. follows:

Dear Mr. President Elect:

As you know, I have not often joined as a cheerleader when so-called Jewish leaders have pushed for their rather sectarian positions in the U.S. As the editor of America's largest circulation Jewish magazine, I've tried to represent the best of Jewish ethics and spirituality, and that has led me into conflict with those in the Jewish world who give knee-jerk support to Israeli policies in the West Bank and Gaza, or those who are always finding anti-Semitism under every rock. My own politics are shaped more by the ethics of our Torah than by any desire to show that Jews are always right.

It is in that spirit that I call upon you to commute the harsh life-sentence imposed on Jonathan Pollard. While I do not support Pollard's actions, but rather condemn them, I find it impossible to justify the life-sentence he received. People who engaged in acts considerably more serious and detrimental to our country regularly receive much lighter sentences. It is my supposition that it was Cap Weinberger's own ambivalence about Jews, particularly his own alleged Jewish roots, that led him to interfere in this case and push for an unpardonably harsh sentence. Mr. Weinberger recently benefited from a pardon for crimes far more detrimental to our nation than those committed by Pollard. I urge you to commute the sentence to time served and allow Mr. Pollard to leave prison.


Michael Lerner, Ph.D.
Editor, Tikkun Magazine