The Colman/Lieberman Correspondence Continues

Editorial - Jewish Press (NY) - July 7, 2000

In the March 17th issue of The Jewish Press we published an open letter NYS Assemblyman Sam Colman (Colman also serves as Democratic Whip of the Assembly) wrote to U.S. Senator Joseph Lieberman, chiding him for thwarting the freeing Of Jonathan Pollard. Mr. Colman asked Senator Lieberman, given the Draconian sentence imposed on Pollard for Israel. "Don't you understand that he [Pollard) was arrested as an American but punished as a Jew?" Senator Lieberman responded in a letter which was reprinted in The Jewish Press, in which Mr. Lieberman said that Jonathan Pollard did a terrible thing with the greatest adverse consequence for the United States and that in any event, "as a general personal policy, I believe the courts, which have access to the full breadth of evidence and testimony in criminal cases, are in the best position to decide matters of guilt or innocence, and sentencing. They should do so without influence from elected legislators, or our courts will not be truly free and independent."

In an April 10th letter, again carried in The Jewish Press, Assemblyman Colman acknowledged that Pollards' crimes were serious but noted that a letter signed by 61 senators, including Senator Lieberman, which Mr. Colman referred to as the "Lieberman letter," represented the sort of political involvement the Senator said he eschewed. Assemblyman Colman also noted that it was the political involvement of Caspar Weinberger that resulted in the life sentence for Pollard, such that Lieberman's non-intervention policy -was at least misplaced in this case. Several weeks ago, we reprinted Senator Lieberman's response in which he noted that he was but one of the signatories to the letter of the 61 senators. He added that he signed the letter because he "viewed its primary purpose to be to urge the President not to be pressured by participants in the Middle East peace process to make a decision in the Pollard case that was not on the merits. In that sense the letter was consistent with the principles that led me to my personal policy of non-intervention in criminal cases, which should be decided on the merits, not an political pressure."

See Assemblyman Colman's reply to Senator Lieberman.

We join in Assemblyman Colman's remarks. We also continue to be troubled by Senator Lieberman's reference to to President Clinton's being pressured by participants in the Middle East peace process to make a decision in the Pollard case that was not on the merits," and his comment that the Pollard issue should be "decided on the merits, not on political pressure." Is the Senator suggesting that we and others who urge the release of Pollard are doing so not on the "merits?"

Is he suggesting that we are choosing freedom for Pollard over the interests of the United States? Politically, this is a particularly relevant point now that Senator Lieberman is being talked about as a possible running mate for Vice president Gore in November. There is real depth to the dismay in the Jewish community over the Senator's views on the Pollard matter.

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