Did Pollard Pay the Price for Rich?

Justice4JP Release - February 14, 2001

President Clinton's actions - granting a pardon to Marc Rich and leaving Jonathan Pollard to rot - were a direct response to a groundswell of "official" Jewish support for Rich and a decided lack of concern for Pollard.

The moral imperative to press for executive clemency for Jonathan Pollard is rooted in such compelling factors as:

Both Israel and the American Jewish leaders failed to act on their expressed concern for Pollard. Their disgrace is profound because their failure stands in marked contrast to the intense efforts that they made on behalf of a wealthy fugitive from the law, Marc Rich.

They sent a very clear message to the President about who it was that really mattered to them - and it was Rich, not Pollard.

This message was reflected in the numerous letters the President received from high-level Israeli officials and high profile Jewish Americans advocating a pardon for Rich, and by their personally lobbying the President.

While intense initiative on behalf of Rich occurred, no simultaneous effort was made to lobby for Pollard. If it had been, then the question could fairly be asked whether the effort for Rich distracted from the effort on behalf of Pollard. But since there was little or no effort made for Pollard, there was never was any contest between the two cases at all.

Moreover, in the last 16 years, no comparable effort has ever been made by influential Israeli officials or American Jewish leaders to lobby for Pollard's release. In the absence of any evidence of concern shown for Pollard, it is ridiculous for "an unnamed Israeli official in Washington " to claim, "without a doubt, the main concern and emphasis was for Pollard", not Rich. (See The Rich Pardon: Bad for Pollard?)

As well, the insidious symmetry that has been suggested in the Jewish media between the law enforcement officials who were outraged by the Rich pardon and the possibility that the Intelligence community might have been similarly angered had Pollard gone free, is nothing more than an excuse to deflect responsibility. How can anyone compare Rich - a fugitive from justice - to Pollard, who has done 16 years of hard time in American prisons and experienced the full weight of the law?

Indeed, the Intelligence community's hyperbolic claims of damage done by Pollard, and his posing a danger to US national security have never been substantiated in a court of law, only hyped in the media. President Clinton's release of 14 unrepentant FALN terrorists, as well as his release of urban terrorist Susan Rosenberg, renders the objections to Pollard's release on national security grounds absurd by comparison.

The failure of the Government of Israel to devote an equal amount of influence and initiative to free an Israeli agent who has already served 16 years in prison, as it expended to obtain a pardon for a wealthy racketeer, is a national disgrace.

Similarly, the failure of the high-profile American Jewish establishment to make the same kind of full court press for Jonathan - a man brutalized by the American justice system - as they did for Marc Rich, raises troubling questions about American Jewish values and morality.

It is a matter of life and death for Jonathan and a matter of basic integrity for the Government of Israel and the Jewish leaders to repair the damage done. They must act decisively and pull out all stops to secure Jonathan Pollard's release, now - as much for their own sakes as for Pollard's.

See Also:

  • The Rich Pardon: Bad for Pollard?
  • Jonathan Pollard's Letter to PM Sharon
  • Urgent Message to PM Sharon from Jonathan Pollard
  • Background: Why The Press For Pollard Right Now?
  • Setting the The Standard for US-Israel Relations
  • The FALN Page
  • The Clemency Page