Hillary Was Not Alone
Adam Dickter - Jewish Week (NY) - September 8, 2000
Excerpted from "Lazio Sees Opportunity In Riverdale" (Jewish Week NY 09/08/00)
Hillary Clinton wasn't the only public figure to contact federal prison officials on behalf of Jonathan Pollard last week. Others who reached out to prevent the Israel spy from being transferred to a more dangerous wing of the correctional facility in Butner, N.C., included Reps. Gary Ackerman (D-Nassau), Jerrold Nadler (D-Manhattan), Anthony Weiner (D-Brooklyn) and Brooklyn City Councilman Noach Dear (D-Borough Park), The Jewish Week has learned.
"None of those people issued press releases because they did not want to hurt Jonathan," said one pro-Pollard source, who speculates that the decision to keep Pollard in his old cell may have been made before Clinton got involved. The story that Clinton had intervened on Pollard's behalf was leaked to the New York Post Friday.
Hikind, the Borough Park assemblyman, met with Clinton shortly before the story broke and says he called Clinton, in response to a fax from Rabbi Pesach Lerner of the National Council of Young Israel immediately afterward. Clinton then called the federal officials, he said.
"When we were contacted about this we acted, and we hope that it helped," said Clinton spokesman Howard Wolfson.
The intervention allowed Clinton to make a gesture on Pollard without taking a position on whether his life sentence for espionage should be commuted, leading some to question the timing.
"I find it hard to believe at a time of huge sensitivity to Pollard that those in charge [in the prison] would want to cause an uproar by making the situation more miserable than it is," said Morton Klein, president of the Zionist Organization of America. "People have told me this may have been put forward to help Clinton's position with the Jewish vote."
Callers to Hikind's radio show Saturday night expressed similar sentiments.
But Rabbi Lerner said he had been alerted to the situation personally by Pollard two weeks earlier. "This has been coming down the pike for a long time already;" he said.
On Tuesday, Lazio*, without taking a position on Pollard himself, called on President Clinton to announce his intentions on the spy's clemency. In a New York Post interview, Lazio speculated that the president might seek an "October Surprise" by releasing Pollard close to the election to help his wife's campaign.
*Justice4JP Note:To date, the only position that Rick Lazio has clearly expressed on the Pollard case is a concern for how his election chances may be harmed by the release of Jonathan Pollard.(See: Where Does Rick Lazio Stand?