Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver Leads Delegation To Visit Pollard
Janurary 7, 2000 - Jewish Press
Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan) led a delegation of Assembly members Tom DiNapoli (D-Nassau), Jeff Klein (D-Bronx) and Helene Weinstein (D-Brooklyn) to visit Jonathan Pollard at the North Carolina Federal Corrections Institution. As The Jewish Press readers know, Jonathan Pollard has been imprisoned for 15 years in a maximum security facility for spying for Israel.
Speaker Silver and his members traveled to Butner, North Carolina for a three hour meeting with Jonathan Pollard last week. The delegation made the journey to demonstrate their support of Mr. Pollard and to renew their calls for clemency from the White House.
"It is important that people not forget that an injustice has been done here and continues to be done in the unfair treatment of Jonathan Pollard," said Mr. Silver. "If our delegation shines some much needed light on this situation and provides Mr. Pollard with a measure of strength and encouragement, then we have accomplished a lot."
Jonathan Pollard is currently serving the longest sentence for someone who has spied for a friend of the United States during peace time. Though Pollard has expressed deep remorse for his actions, the American intelligence community still deems him a potential for danger and has stated a strong opposition to releasing Pollard.
Former members of U.S. Intelligence, journalists, and prominent Rabbis, have all called on the Justice Department to give Pollard's case a review and to find in favor of his release.
During the meeting with Silver, DiNapoli, Klein and Weinstein, Pollard compared his struggle to that of the Soviet Jewry and Natan Sharansky, a subject that Speaker Silver is most familiar with, having dedicated an early part of his political career to relentlessly fighting for asylum for Russian Jewry. As a long time advocate of Jewish causes, Speaker Silver has been at the forefront of many critical battles, which have been vital to the Jewish community, here and abroad. Wherever he found injustices that could be solved through State Law, Silver fought successfully to change a system to favor the underdog. Whether the plight be for agunot, Holocaust survivors or the kosher food industry, Silver has proven time and time again that he will not rest until full justice is served.
It is that philosophy that has moved Silver to voice his opinions on issues that do not always fall solely in his district. Whether it be the unfortunate predicament of the 13 Iranian Jews, the missing Israeli MIA's, or reparations for Holocaust victims, Silver has always been there for the fight.
Following the visit with Jonathan Pollard, Rabbi Pesach Lerner of the National Council of Young Israel, shared with Silver than Jonathan had indicated his spirits were greatly improved. When questioned about the appropriateness of a New York elected official visiting a convicted spy,
Silver replied, "I think it is right for the Assembly Speaker or any other citizen to travel anywhere in the world where they believe an injustice is occurring."