Gore Cops Out on Pollard Case
Marvin Greisman - The Jewish Press - January 7, 2000
Recently, when Vice President Al Gore came to Orthodox Brooklyn to campaign for the 2000 Democratic presidential nomination, he simply copped out when asked about Jonathan Pollard. One observer told the Jewish Press that "Gore was trying to pull the wool over the eyes of the Jewish community when addressing his position on the Pollard matter," a red hot issue of grass-roots Jews nation-wide. "He (Gore) just took a pass on the issue and straddled the fence."
According to Gore, the key to clemency for Pollard rests with the President, and Clinton can only act on the matter if the U.S. Justice Department gives him the green light. When a Pollard supporter asked the Vice President about his position on the matter, Gore tried very hard to skirt the issue. As an anxious audience of Jewish supporters of the Vice President awaited a positive or at least a hopeful response on the matter, Gore said that, "my position on the Jonathan Pollard case is that it should be handled through the appropriate legal channels, and only the President of the United States can act upon a petition for clemency."
He quickly added: "The President should do so only upon a recommendation from the Justice Department."
The observer noted that, "the U.S. Justice Department under Reno has been a Justice Department riddled with politics, more than any of the Justice Departments in previous administrations. Politics is their guideline to making decisions, to appointing special prosecutors when it suits their purposes, and rejecting them when it does not."
While some say that the Pollard issue is not the only issue in the next presidential election, the observer stressed that "perhaps it would be a step in the right direction if President Clinton ruled on the merits of the case by granting Pollard his long overdue clemency. That way, Pollard would cease to be a political football, and candidates like the Vice President, Bradley and others would not be obliged to continue to do their political dance affecting the life of a person who should be finally granted his freedom, especially where he has shown remorse."
The observer also noted that Clinton was moving in the right direction when, as part of the Wye agreement, Clinton promised Netanyahu that Pollard would be given his freedom. But like many other U.S. promises, the promise to grant freedom to Pollard was denied..
He also stressed that Gore should know better when speaking about decision making in the Justice Department with regard to Pollard. Consistently through the years, the U.S. Justice Department has made recommendations that commutation be denied. "And I am sure that Reno's people have not changed their minds on the matter since the last rejection of commutation."
The observer charged that campaign contributions to the Gore effort by American Jews continue unabated although this administration has shown hostility in freeing Pollard. "These contributions to Gore's campaign should cease and maybe then the Vice President will understand that American Jews care deeply about Pollard's dire circumstances and seek his immediate release with no strings attached.