Life sentences have been meted out to other spies only when they were
involved in espionage on behalf of one of America's enemies. Never
before has someone spying on behalf of a friendly power been given
such a stiff sentence.
Pollard spent the first several years of his incarceration in solitary
confinement, but is now living as part of the general population in the
medium- to maximum-security prison in Buttner, N.C.
"We realize that you are familiar with his case and have considered
such appeals before,'' Butler and Yoffie wrote to Clinton in their April
"Yet we -- the representatives of the broadest spectrum of the
American Jewish community -- come together in the spirit of unity and
out of a clear sense of fellowship and brotherhood as fellow Jews to
raise Jonathan's plight with you once again.''
The rabbis have not yet received a response from Clinton.
The letter's timing, insisted Butler, was purely coincidental.
He had been working with Yoffie on it long before an otherwise little-
known fervently Orthodox rabbinical group declared last month that
the liberal movements were "not Judaism.'' The declaration
illuminated deep differences between the movements and set off a
firestorm of controversy.
The letter was not intended to be a show of Jewish unity, said both
rabbis, but it is having that effect.
"We are Jews united in sustaining other Jews,'' Butler said in an
interview. "When you have a Jew in captivity you expend all efforts''
to help him.
While Pollard's wife, Esther, said she was pleased that the two rabbis
had issued the joint letter, she was sharply critical of the organized
Jewish community's efforts to free her husband.
The letter was not likely to be effective, she said, unless serious
political pressure is also brought to bear on the president.
"Even such an unusual stand is not enough when you have the Jewish
community in America literally funding the president and buttressing
his office, but when it comes to equal justice for a Jew, they are
quiet,'' she said when reached at the school where she teaches in
Both Butler and Yoffie said they sympathized with Esther Pollard's
feelings, but both said they feel that the Jewish community has acted
responsibly on her husband's behalf.
Jonathan Pollard also has a petition pending before Israel's high court
asking the government there to accept full legal responsibility for his
work spying for them, which then would compel them to more
vigorously seek his freedom, said his wife.
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