Hillary Clinton and the Pollard Issue

Dov Hikind - The Jewish Press, July 23, 1999

The author is a member of the New York State Assembly.

While the media rustles with the thrill of a Clinton candidacy for the New York Senate seat and the show of major ideological turnabouts for the First Lady, we need to examine what role Hillary Clinton might play in the state, national, and international political scene. Can she emerge from her husband's shadow? Or will Clinton doctrine and dogma carry over to the Senate floor?

She has made assertive moves to create her own identity for New York voters, distancing herself from some classic Clintonesque policies. While her husband has thus far refused to comply with the Jerusalem Embassy Relocation Act of 1995, she has recently called Jerusalem, "the eternal and indivisible capital of Israel." There is also the matter of repositioning herself on self-determination and statehood for Palestinians. This momentum is significantly contrary to her previous outspoken positions on these issues. Yet there remains the question of whether she intends to pacify or satisfy New Yorkers. Therefore it is necessary to ascertain whether she intends to actualize this new doctrine, or whether it is just lip service.

The surest way to assert her independence and make her mark on the political scene would be to confirm her reversals with tangibles. Her unique position as First Lady allows her to assert her influence positively on the president of the United States, to effect the changes that would reflect the sincerity of her candidacy.

Jonathan Pollard has been languishing in maximum security prisons for more than a decade. The charges against him are serious, but the sentence meted out has been recognized as being severely excessive, considering he was charged with spying for an ally. As a New York candidate, as a potential senator, Hillary needs to assert herself beyond general pronouncements that are easily ignored after elections. We need concrete assurances that there has been a shift in her platform. Then New Yorkers can be comfortable with other concessionary gestures.

Pollard has been punished. At this point, there are murmurs that his pardon is tied up in powerplays and backroom whispers. Clinton is an intelligent woman who has likely been privy to all sorts of intelligence information. She can therefore weed through the myriad real and imagined security risks. She can appeal to her husband on humanitarian grounds to pardon Pollard and close the chapter on his ordeal. This would be much more convincing than any moves she has made to this point. And the people of this state and this country would finally know, clearly and unequivocally, that she recognizes the important issues and intends to be guided by her conscience, not the Clinton persona.

  • Return to Senate Race page