Jewish leaders call for Jonathan Pollard's release

American Jewish umbrella group ask US President Obama to release the Israeli agent during the holiday season. Gill Hoffman - The Jerusalem Post - December 24, 2013

The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations called on US President Barack Obama Tuesday to commute the sentence of Israeli agent Jonathan Pollard during the American holiday season.

The American Jewish umbrella group, which represents 50 national Jewish organizations on issues of national and international concern, wrote Obama that at 28 years, Pollard has served longer than any person convicted of a similar offense, spying for an ally of the US.

"We hope that in this holiday season, as we approach the new year with hope and expectation, this request will be considered favorably," chairman Robert Sugarman and executive vice chairman Malcolm Hoenlein wrote. "We hope that Mr. and Mrs. Pollard will be allowed to rebuild their lives after him having served more than 10,000 days in prison."

In the letter, Sugarman and Hoenlein noted recent calls for Pollard's release from "many of those who were involved in his prosecution or are otherwise in a position to make responsible judgment," including former Secretaries of State Henry Kissinger and George Shultz, former CIA Director James Woolsey, and William Webster, who headed the FBI at the time of Pollard's arrest.

"Some of them have stepped up their advocacy because of the recent revelations regarding US activities vis-a-vis Israel," the letter said, referring to revelations by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden that the US spied on the Jewish state. "This is foremost a matter of justice and humanity. [Pollard] has suffered and paid a heavy price for his crime, for which he has publicly expressed remorse."

Former kidnapped soldier Gilad Schalit published a call for Pollard's release in Yediot Ahronot. Schalit wrote that after Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu released terrorists as a gesture to the Palestinians, the US should make a gesture to Israel.

"I am convinced that all the people of Israel would agree with me that we deserve the simple gesture of releasing Pollard," Schalit wrote. "Join me in a clear call to our American friends: We released dozens of terrorists with blood on their hands at your request, so give us this one gesture. It could save his life."

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