US Jewish Body Votes Not To Intervene In Pollard Case

The Jerusalem Post - February 18, 1993

The National Jewish Community Relations Advisory Council, representing 13 national and 117 New York Jewish community relations groups, voted yesterday at its annual meeting in Washington, DC, not to intervene in the case of Jonathan Pollard, serving a life sentence for passing secrets to Israel.

The group voted 162 to 147, with 41 abstentions, not to send US President Bill Clinton a letter drafted by its San Francisco chapter which would have asked for a presidential review of Pollard's sentence.

A NJCRAC spokesman said the decision "should not be misinterpreted to mean we oppose commutation" of Pollard's sentence. "We just don't have a position on commutation," he clarified. The feeling of the majority of delegates was that this was not the most appropriate issue for the organized Jewish community to choose in its first official approach to the new president, he said.

"Issues like health care, poverty, social justice, urban affairs - these were felt to be more pressing," he added."Even speakers who support commutation said this is not the time for us to ask."

With yesterday's vote, NJCRAC bucks a growing tide of organizational support for clemency for Pollard that has been gaining strength since the US Supreme Court refused to hear Pollard's request for a jury trial last October. Presidential clemency is now the only option Pollard has for an early release.

Grassroots support for Pollard's release gained momentum after the Supreme Court refusal, spearheaded by the Citizens for Pollard, headed by Jonathan's sister Carol. Pollard activists criticized mainstream Jewish groups for lagging behind growing popular support for clemency.

B'nai B'rith International was the first major American Jewish organization to call for presidential clemency for Pollard last September, during its convention in Washington, DC. After President Clinton's election last November other Jewish groups slowly began to follow suit, buoyed by Clinton's promise to "review the case." Hadassah and the American Zionist Movement have since joined B'nai B'rith in a direct call for a commutation of the sentence.The American Jewish Congress and the American Jewish Committee have called for presidential review.The Anti-Defamation League voted last week to maintain its current policy of non-intervention in the case.

Batsheva Tsur adds:

The head of Israel's Public Committee for Pollard has called on Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin to raise the issue of Jonathan Pollard's freedom "openly and officially" with President Clinton when they meet next month in Washington.

"Seventy-six MKs from across the political spectrum - including a Druse - have signed a petition to Clinton asking that Pollard be freed," committee head Amnon Dror said.