Drawing Hillary Out on Pollard

The Jewish Press - Editorial - November 26, 1999

As we report this week, New York State Assemblyman Dov Hikind will hold a press conference on December 5th at 11:00 a.m. in front of the headquarters of Hillary Clinton's Exploratory Committee at 450 Seventh Avenue, between 34th and 35th Streets in Manhattan. The participants will call upon Mrs. Clinton to join the effort to free Jonathan Pollard. We agree that it is time Mrs. Clinton took a stand on this issue.

It will be recalled that President Clinton had supposedly committed to then Prime Minister Netanyahu at the Wye negotiations to pardon Pollard in return for some concessions on Israel's part. However, as the story goes, faced with a wall of opposition from the intelligence community and certain political leaders, the President reneged, although the Israeli concessions still stood.

We are not entirely comfortable with the story and suspect that the President did some fancy footwork and never intended to release Pollard. Our skepticism was supported when we learned that the very same wall of opposition arose against the President's plan to release the 17 Puerto Rican FALN members convicted of terrorism, yet the President was undeterred and went ahead with the pardon.

In the past, we have pointed to the anomaly that President Clinton pressured successive Israeli governments to release hundreds of unrepentant individuals convicted of terrorist acts against Israeli citizens, which included murder and infliction of grievous bodily harm, into the general Palestinian population surrounding the tiny Jewish state. But the lone Pollard, possessing intelligence information that has to be at least 18 years old, is considered a risk if freed into a population of more than 250 million!

We are weary of ticking off once again the justifications for a pardon for Pollard. Suffice it to say that despite his crime, his punishment is so out of line with punishments meted out for comparable offenses as to proclaim an anti-Israel animus.

Mrs. Clinton will be seeking the votes of Jewish New Yorkers. It is important that we know that she will join the effort to free Pollard, or that she won't. Her position on this matter will tell us as much about her as will anything else.

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