Why was the Pollard Clemency Bid Dismissed?

J4JPnews - January 21, 2008

In spite of the heart-breaking outcome, Jonathan and Esther Pollard want to express their deepest thanks and appreciation to Rabbi Pesach Lerner and the National Council of Young Israel which spearheaded the Pollard clemency campaign in the United States; to Andrew Brooke and all of the J4JP Team; to Nissan GanOr and The Committee to Bring Jonathan Pollard Home; to our attorneys in the US and in Israel, to our family, friends and massive grassroots supporters -- for all that they have done over the last while, to participate in an intensive campaign to secure justice for Jonathan via presidential clemency.

Given the blood, sweat and tears that went into this campaign, it is deeply troubling that it was not successful. President Bush is gone and Jonathan, unjustly, remains in prison. We are, of course, deeply disappointed and very, very sad. Now that we have absorbed the initial blow and dried our tears, everyone is asking what went wrong.

Why did the Campaign Fail?

This was no ordinary campaign. After 24 years, we pulled out all stops in working for Jonathan's release. We had the best lawyers. They filed a dynamite petition that really explained the massive injustice and clearly demonstrated the gross disproportionality of Jonathan's sentence. We worked around the clock lobbying and making the right contacts. We had access to the White House and intensive behind-the-scenes contact. We had recommendations from those who matter most in the clemency process. We had massive grassroots support and participation in the US and Israel. In short, we left no stone unturned in doing whatever it took to present the best case to the President for commutation of Jonathan's life sentence to the 24 years he has already served.

Unfortunately, the hurdle we were not able to overcome, was a President who simply decided to dismiss all high profile petitions out of hand. All of the high-profile petitions -- ones that might evoke the slightest controversy-- were left to the very end, and then simply ignored.

Why? We don't really know.

Perhaps it was to avoid the kind of controversy that Bill Clinton created with a flurry of tainted pardons on his last day in office. Or perhaps for "legacy" purposes, so Bush might continue his reputation as a president who is very sparing with his power of clemency. So rather than pick and choose which high profile petitions to grant, Bush simply dismissed them all.

While this may sound even-handed, it is not if you consider that most of the other high profile petitions for pardons came from people who are not even in prison! Some never served any time, or they did time years ago and now they seek a pardon simply to restore some of their civil rights. Others have yet to stand trial, but hope to pre-empt a sentence by having a pardon wipe out their crime. Few petitioners are actually in prison and they are serving relatively short sentences.

Only Jonathan is in his 24th year of a

life sentence

for an offense that has a median sentence of 2 to 4 years. When President Bush chose to ignore Pollard's petition along with all of the other petitions filed by those who are not prison nor in peril, he effectively compounded the injustice.

If the Government of Israel had weighed in on Jonathan's behalf with President Bush in a meaningful way, perhaps the end result might have been different. But that was not the case. Even after 24 years, the abandonment and betrayal of an agent in peril continues.

Olmert, Livni, Barak and the whole gang remain devoted to those operations that will secure their own seats of power, and have little concern for the average Israeli, let alone concern for captives like Pollard or Shalit.

Israeli President Peres received pleas both publicly and privately for his intervention on behalf of Pollard. He managed to deflect them all.

So what next?

First of all, we are going to take a breather and regroup. In the meantime, remember, G-d still runs the world. Now more than ever is the time for prayer. This time we are praying for an open miracle: Jonathan home. Alive. Now!