Clinton Rebuffs Jewish Leaders

Historic Pollard Letter Gets Cold Shoulder

April 17, 1998 - James D. Besser - The New York Jewish Week

The effort to win the release of convicted spy Jonathan Pollard escalated another notch last week with a letter from a broad spectrum of Jewish religious leaders asking for clemency. But the White House didn't make it easy for the unprecedented coalition of rabbis. Last week they refused to meet with representatives of the group who wanted to present the letter.

According to the White House, groups seeking to deliver letters are routinely turned away. And they continue to insist that since there is no commutation request on the table, it would be inappropriate for them to discuss the Pollard case.

In the letter the rabbis said that, "we do not condone the violation of the laws of the United States, nor do we contend that Mr. Pollard is innocent of the crime with which he was charged." But Pollard's punishment, they said has been excessive compared to the sentences handed out to others who committed similar crimes. "Mr. President, we feel it is wrong for American justice to treat Jonathan Pollard, a contrite offender, as you would those who have committed high treason against our nation."

The letter was signed by top officials of the Central Conference of American Rabbis, the Rabbinical Assembly of America, the Rabbinical Council of America, the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, the Orthodox Union, Hebrew Union College, and the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism.

The effort was proposed and organized by Rabbi Jacob S. Rubenstein, president of the Rabbinical Council of America.

See also:
  • Orthodox, Conservative and Reform Unite in Appeal to Clinton

  • Return to Jewish Unity Page