RAC: Urge Obama to Release Jonathan Pollard

Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism Release - October 6, 2010

Original posting

The Torah teaches that "in justice shall you judge your neighbor" (Leviticus 19:15). This seems like a fairly easy commandment to follow, especially in America where we have a justice system in place with built-in checks to try and ensure only guilty people are convicted of crimes and that their punishments meet our expectations of fair and equal. I am not an expert on the American court system, but I would say, and I think most Americans would agree with me, that our court system usually does a good job of judging our neighbors in justice.

But not always, and not when it comes to Jonathan Pollard. Pollard is a former naval intelligence analyst who in 1986 pleaded guilty to "passing classified information to an ally without intent to harm the United States." He has been in U.S. prison ever since and has been the subject of multiple requests for clemency from Israeli Prime Ministers, U.S. congressmen and Jewish organizations, among them the URJ. Pollard is the also the subject of a letter currently circulating in the House of Representatives. Israel initially denied the accusations, saying he was not an Israeli operative, but since has recanted these denials and granted his request for Israeli citizenship.

I cannot in good conscience argue that Pollard should be released because he was acting on behalf of another country that I feel a sense of loyalty to, or on the grounds that he is Jewish. What Pollard did was illegal and I do not condone criminal activity especially in the name of the Jewish people. (For the record, the RAC also does not condone criminal activity.)

Rather, referring back to the Torah quote I started with, President Obama should extend clemency to Jonathan Pollard because he deserves to be judged in justice. Pollard has served one of the longest sentences in U.S. history for spying for an allied country. This is not a question of treason, it did not occur in a time of war between the U.S. and Israel, and Pollard was only convicted of a single count of disclosing documents to an ally foreign government. The Torah tells us that in justice shall we judge our neighbors and I implore you to stand up for the justice that Pollard never received.

I urge you to see to the RAC's Action Alert about Jonathan Pollard below and to call or write your Representative urging for President Obama to extend clemency to Jonathan Pollard.

The author, Solly Kane is an Eisendrath Legislative Assistant. He is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin.

Urge President Obama to Pardon Jonathan Pollard

Help Free Jonathan Pollard, who has served one of the longest prison terms of any American ever convicted of spying for an ally of the United States. Send a letter now or call. Read more about Jonathan Pollard's case below or at jonathanpollard.org.


Members of the House of Representatives are circulating a letter urging President Barack Obama to release Jonathan Pollard, who pleaded guilty in 1986 of spying for Israel. The former Navy analyst has served one of the longest prison terms of any American ever convicted of spying for an ally of the United States. He became an Israeli citizen while in prison in 1995. The congressional letter notes that granting clemency to Pollard would be, "an act of compassion justified by the way others have been treated by our justice system; as an act that will do nothing whatsoever to lessen our defenses against espionage; and a step that far from hurting the national security, could advance it by the impact it would have within Israel."


While we do not condone breaking the law and we do not support clemency for Mr. Pollard's sentence out of a belief that he is innocent, we strongly believe in the need for fair and just criminal sentencing. The Torah says "in justice shall you judge your neighbor" (Leviticus 19:15) and we are taught in Ezekiel that criminals are capable of reshaping their lives. "I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live" (Ezekiel 33:11).


Urge your Representative to sign the letter being circulated by Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) supporting clemency for Jonathan Pollard. The Capitol Switchboard can be reached at 202.224.3121

For more information, contact Eisendrath Legislative Assistant Solly Kane at 202.387.2800

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