Jonathan Pollard is a Hostage

Dr. Aaron Lerner - IMRA Weekly Commentary - May 12, 2011

Jonathan Pollard is a hostage.

Yes. Those are strong words.

But let's consider the situation today:

We have virtually a wall-to-wall consensus of top American officials who have intimate knowledge of the operation stating now for the record that after serving 26 years in prison, justice requires the immediate and unconditional release of Jonathan Pollard..

On 4 January 2011 Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu publicly and formally apologized for the operation on behalf of the Jewish State and requested that President Obama free Pollard.

There was no response.

On 5 April 2011 President Shimon Peres met with President Obama at the White House and again requested, in the name of the State of Israel that President Obama free Pollard - hand delivering a letter from Pollard in which he expresses remorse for his actions and pleaded on compelling humanitarian grounds to be released.

There was no response.

Senior American officials have confirmed in the past that Pollard IS being held by the United States as a "chip" that could be given to Israel in compensation for Palestinian-Israeli final status concessions. In point of fact, Prime Minister Netanyahu already "paid" for Pollard's release at the 1998 Wye Summit. Then- president Clinton received the payment - the release of Palestinian terrorists- but reneged on his end of the deal, freedom for Pollard.

So here we are.

Justice requires the immediate unilateral release of Pollard, with no quid pro quo.

Pleas from both the Prime Minister and President of Israel to free Pollard have been ignored by President Obama.

And while there is an apparent expectation that in spite of the justice in releasing Pollard after 26 years in prison, America is continuing to hold Pollard until Israel pays some exorbitant, yet-to-be- stated "price".

If this is the case, clearly this isn't diplomacy. It is blackmail.

This isn't the behavior of a trusted ally.

It is an embarrassment which undermines the credibility of the US - Israel special relationship.

It is humiliating for the State of Israel as President Obama appears to show such contempt for the Jewish State, while the rest of the world looks on.

It is the antithesis of all that the United States of America claims to stand for. President Obama seems to have turned a blind eye to justice, and to humanitarian compassion, in what appears to be a bid to blackmail an ally.

It is not too late to rectify the situation. Nor is it too late to set the record straight, and allow justice to finally prevail.

With literally the stroke of a pen, President Obama can put an end to this travesty of justice and to the apparent blackmail of an ally.

All it will take is stroke of the President's pen on Pollard's clemency papers so that both countries may be reassured that Prime Minister Netanyahu is meeting with President Obama the statesman, and not Mr. Obama the blackmailer.

Jonathan Pollard must go free. Now.

The author, Dr. Aaron Lerner, is Director of IMRA [Independent Media Review & Analysis]