Esther Pollard Responds to The Conference of Presidents

Justice4JP Release - Posted to Web May 7, 2001

Sunday, April 15, 2001 B"H

Mr. Malcolm Hoenlein, Exec. Vice Chairman
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

Dear Malcolm,

Thank you for your letter responding to my letter of March 22, 2001, which reached me in Jerusalem today.

In your letter you speak of your and Seymour's prison visits to Jonathan as if they occurred yesterday and not nearly a decade ago. Jonathan's beard and hair have long since turned white since you and Seymour last saw him. He is ill and in constant pain. Every day he stares death in the face, G-d forbid, and dares not blink. Your letter demonstrates more effectively than anything I myself could have written just how little the Conference has done for him over the last 16 years.

Nevertheless, we welcome your offer to meet with our attorneys, providing you understand that the purpose of such a meeting - with the whole Conference not just the Executive - is to educate the Conference about Jonathan's new legal case so that it may swiftly begin to ADVOCATE OPENLY, PUBLICLY and EFFECTIVELY for his release.

Jonathan's new legal case documents a travesty of justice that has gone unchallenged for 16 years. If it has to wend its way through the courts over a long period of time, it will not save his life. Jonathan is too ill for that and the government knows all too well how to subvert justice.

What is especially important about Jonathan's legal case is that it documents the injustice that Jonathan has suffered and it would allow the President to explain to the American people the justness of extending clemency to him at once. It is critical that all members of the Conference be thoroughly familiar with the new legal case.

Moreover there are some essential specific initiatives that the Conference would be in a position to undertake after a thorough briefing by our attorneys. Please be in touch with them as soon as possible to arrange the meeting.

In your letter you also indicate that the issue of my husband was not on the agenda when you met with President George W. Bush on March 9, 2001, because you claim that only "domestic issues" were raised with the new president and Jonathan Pollard is not a "domestic issue".

Here in Jerusalem, I consult daily with Jonathan's rabbi, the Rishon Letzion, His Honor, HaRav Mordecai Eliahu, shlita. The Rav would like to know by what authority you decided that the mitzvah of pidyan shvuyim concerning a desperately-ill American Jew, who has served five times longer in prison than anyone else in the history of the United States, is not a "domestic issue"? The Rav is at a loss to understand how any decent person, given the opportunity such as you had to save a Jewish life, could fail to do so.

Neither we nor the Rav are comforted by your claim to have "privately" raised the issue of Jonathan's release with the President. Jonathan will soon be entering his 17th year of incarceration. The injustice of his sentence - fully documented by his new legal case - and the harsh treatment he has experienced (including 7 years in solitary confinement) are injustices that the Rav describes as "screaming to the Heavens". How is it that you failed to speak out forthrightly to save Jonathan's life?

The Rav reminded me that some years ago he addressed members of the Conference of Presidents and its executive. He told me that he asked you " What is wrong with you? When a man cuts his finger and it hurts, does he not cry out? Jonathan Pollard is a part of you, how is it that you do not cry out for him?"

Furthermore our sources in Washington tell us that they are not aware of any conversation by any member of the Conference with the President regarding Jonathan Pollard. Bottom line, Malcolm, if no one saw it, and no one heard it, and there is no evidence that any appeal was ever made, then it might just as well never have happened because it has ABSOLUTELY NO EFFECT.

As well, while you claim that "every chairman during (your) tenure has raised this issue during White House meetings", the fact remains that Jonathan Pollard has never been on the official agenda of the Conference of Presidents for any of its White House meetings.

Indeed, on the eve of Passover 1994, at the same time that the former President was inside the White House meeting with Jewish leaders from the Conference of Presidents, his spokesperson was outside telling the media that the President had rejected Jonathan Pollard's appeal for clemency. In fact the President did not even mention Pollard during his meeting with the Jewish leaders, who couldn't even protest this slap in the face because they had not brought the issue up either! As always, Pollard was NOT on their official agenda. Let's at least keep the historical record straight, Malcolm.

Our attorneys await your call.

Yours truly,

Esther Pollard
[Mrs. Jonathan Pollard]

cc Seymour Reich
Ronald Lauder
Phil Baum
Rabbbi Lerner
Eliot Lauer
Jacques Semmelman

See Also:

  • Esther Pollard's original letter to the Conference: Mar. 22, 2001
  • Malcolm Hoenlein's Response: Mar. 27, 2001