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The National Council of Young Israel has taken a lead role in the fight to have Jonathan Pollard released from prison. NCYI uses its influence as an international Jewish organization to educate elected officials and the general Jewish community about the Pollard case.
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Revealing Analysis of Pollard's Clemency Petition

The following is an important and extremely informative article that appeared in The Jerusalem Post, which provides an exclusive, behind-the-scenes analysis of Jonathan Pollard's clemency request.


Behind the lines: Pollard's plight


By Gil Hoffman



Ahead of 26th anniversary of Jonathan Pollard's arrest, an exclusive look at year-old clemency request reveals how his case was mishandled.


Following the release of Gilad Schalit from the clutches of Hamas in the Gaza Strip, one of the questions most often asked to spokesmen for Israel who address audiences in the United States is why Israeli agent Jonathan Pollard remains in an American federal prison.


Pollard will enter his 27th year in captivity on November 21, even though the median sentence for those convicted of passing classified information to an ally is just two to four years.


No one else in American history has ever received a life sentence for this offense.


Successive Democratic and Republican regimes in Washington can be blamed for not commuting Pollard's sentence. Some hold American Jewish leaders responsible for not taking a public stand on Pollard until recently and still not taking enough action.


The last seven prime ministers of Israel undoubtedly could have each made Pollard a higher priority.


But an exclusive look at Pollard's request for clemency from US President Barack Obama, which he submitted a year ago, tells a deeper story of intrigue, legal misconduct and the interference of an American defense secretary known for being anti-Israel.


Pollard filed his request for clemency last October and over the past year added seven supplemental filings with letters to Obama calling for his release from many current and former senior American and Israeli officials. After a plea from Pollard's wife Esther, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu followed up with his own formal request three months later.


A White House spokesman confirmed in May that such requests tend to be answered within six weeks. He has not said why Obama has been dragging his feet.


Clemency requests were also filed in 1992 to then president George Bush, in 1993 to then-president Bill Clinton, and in 2008 to then-president George W. Bush. The first two announced that they had denied the request to commute Pollard's sentence.


George W. Bush left office without responding to the request at all.


While the US Board of Prisons web site lists a "presumptive parole date" in 2015, following 30 years of Pollard's sentence, the US Justice Department is expected to oppose parole, so Pollard is unlikely to apply. If he did apply and was rejected, it could bar him from requesting parole for another 15 years and harm chances of persuading a president to grant clemency.


Those close to Pollard warn that due to his poor health, he may not survive four more years in prison. His clemency request reveals for the first time his long list of ailments: Diabetes, nausea, dizziness, blackouts and ongoing issues with his gall bladder, kidneys, sinuses, eyes and feet. He also suffers from Meniere's disease, which causes him to lose consciousness and fall without warning.


Despite an exemplary prison record, applying for parole is also not an option for Pollard because of a severe impediment unilaterally imposed by the US Justice Department preventing his pro bono attorneys, Eliot Lauer and Jacques Semmelman, from seeing key documents that were submitted to the judge before he was sentenced in 1987.


Requests for the lawyers to have access to Pollard's file have been rejected even though both lawyers obtained the appropriate "top secret" security clearances.


Since the lawyers have not seen their client's entire court file, those opposed to parole have free reign to say anything about Pollard without the risk of being contradicted by the documents.


Explaining that their client was not seeking to exonerate himself via a pardon, Pollard's lawyers wrote in the clemency request that "while there are serious and substantial issues surrounding the sentencing process, Mr. Pollard has exhausted his remedies in the US court system.


His sole remaining avenue of relief from his life sentence is executive clemency."


The request lists Pollard's offense as "conspiracy to deliver national defense information to a foreign government," but Pollard stressed in his own words: "I was never charged with, nor did I plead guilty to harming the United States or aiding a foreign government that is an enemy of the US."


Pollard has expressed his remorse for his crime on multiple occasions and also made a point of reiterating his remorse in the document. The loyalty that he expresses to the US sounds surprising from a man who hasn't exactly been treated well by American institutions.


"I have never, to this day, lost my love, respect, and gratitude for everything this country has given me," Pollard wrote. "I deeply regret what I did.


While my intention at the time I committed this offense was only to help protect Israel and never to cause damage to the US, I have long since come to understand that what I did was wrong and that I should have acted on my concerns in a more appropriate, legal manner."


Pollard received a life sentence on March 4, 1987, despite a plea agreement he signed a year earlier in which he committed to plead guilty and cooperate fully with the investigation against him in return for a commitment by the American government not to seek a life sentence.


Prior to the sentencing, the Department of Justice which revealed that no concrete harm had been done to the US as a result of Pollard's espionage.


But then-American defense secretary Caspar Weinberger submitted a 46-page classified declaration two months before the sentencing that apparently claimed the opposite. Just one day before the sentencing he submitted another, shorter letter to the judge in which he falsely accused Pollard of causing at least as much harm to American national security as had spies for the Soviet Union who were given life sentences.


Portions of the Weinberger declaration that are in the public record indicate that it consisted largely of projections of possible future harm.


Pollard's lawyer at the time, who had full access to the document, responded to it by saying that "Secretary Weinberger nowhere alleges that the US has lost the lives or utility of any agents, that it has been obligated to replace or relocate intelligence equipment, that it had to alter communication signals, or that it has lost other sources of information, or that our technology has been compromised.


Indeed the memorandum only discusses the possibility that sources may be compromised in the future."


Years after other agents were convicted of revealing information that Pollard was accused of leaking, his current lawyers wrote in the clemency request that it is likely that many of Weinberger's projections never came to pass and that scrutinizing his declaration would confirm that.


"The passage of nearly a quarter century has demonstrated that the anticipated harm to the US has not materialized and never will," the lawyers wrote. "Inasmuch as Mr. Pollard's life sentence was premised, in substantial measure on these projections, commuting of the sentence would be just and appropriate."


Weinberger's downplaying of Pollard's case in a 2002 interview with journalist Edwin Black substantiated the lawyers' belief that the harm Weinberger projected did not materialize.


"The Pollard matter was comparatively minor," Weinberger told Black. "It was made far bigger than its actual importance."


Weinberger's deputy at the time of the Pollard affair, Lawrence Korb, who is currently one of the most outspoken advocates for Pollard's release, recently said that "Weinberger had an almost visceral dislike of Israel."


If Weinberger's declarations were so damaging, why didn't Pollard object to the last-minute submissions, rebut them or request a hearing at which the government would have had to prove Weinberger's charges or withdraw them? The apparent answer is that Richard Hibey, the lawyer of Lebanese descent whom Israel paid to represent Pollard, did not tell him that he was entitled to any of those approaches. Pollard's clemency request includes a lengthy opinion written by former federal judge George Leighton of Chicago in which he blamed Hibey for not preventing the life sentence Pollard received.


"The evidence shows that the government engaged in serious misconduct that went unchecked by an ineffective defense counsel, Richard Hibey, and that these constitutional violations severely prejudiced Mr. Pollard and resulted in his life sentence," Leighton wrote. "He was deprived of effective assistance of counsel as a result of his counsel's failure to deal competently with unproven, highly damaging eleventh hour factual assertions made by the government in a supplemental declaration of secretary of defense Caspar Weinberger submitted the day before sentencing."


The most problematic mistake by Hibey, who later represented the Palestinian Authority in American courts, was that after the sentencing, he did not file a onepage request for an appeal within the required 10 days. This barred Pollard from ever appealing his life sentence, and as a result, there has never been any direct appellate review of the sentencing.


Lauer and Semmelman, who became Pollard's lawyers in 2000, have attempted unsuccessfully to bring the case back to courts, but their efforts have been rejected on procedural grounds, leaving clemency by an American president as the only way Pollard can leave prison alive.


"After nearly 25 years, we respectfully suggest that further incarceration of Mr. Pollard would serve no purpose," Lauer and Semmelman wrote Obama. "Any deterrent effect on others based on the sentence's severity has been accomplished."

October 4, 2011


The following article, which is written by Stewart Ain and appears in the current edition of The Jewish Week, provides great insight into the firestorm created by Vice President Biden's recent controversial comments about clemency for Jonathan Pollard. The article details the fact that Jewish leaders from all points on the religious spectrum are coalescing to publically and vociferously call for clemency for Pollard and are expressing outrage and disbelief at the Vice President's callous remarks about a man whose life hangs in the balance.
I thought that it may be of interest to you.
Jewish Leaders Press Pollard Release After Biden's Words
Veep's angry comments spark new effort for clemency
Stewart Ain - The Jewish Week - October 4, 2011
Seeking to capitalize on the issue of Jonathan Pollard - put there in a spectacular way two weeks ago by Vice President Joe Biden himself - Jewish leaders this week are initiating a full-court press on the convicted spy's behalf.
At a Rosh HaShanah cocktail party for Jewish leaders at Biden's residence in Washington this week, they will ask Biden for a private meeting to convince him that Pollard's nearly 26 years behind bars is long enough.
Biden is said to have told a group of rabbis in South Florida last month that Pollard, 57, is a "traitor who deserves to spend the rest of his life in prison."
Rabbi Eric Yoffie, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, said he would broach the subject of the meeting in light of the fact that Biden's "lifetime of work establishes him as a friend and supporter of American Jews and the State of Israel. ...This is a topic that requires further discussion, and we would welcome the opportunity to discuss it with him in a small meeting where we could really talk through the issues."
Rabbi Yoffie pointed out that the subject of Pollard, a civilian naval intelligence analyst who stole thousands of classified documents in the 1980s before being caught and sentenced in 1987 to life in prison for spying for Israel, had been "taboo" for years after his arrest.
"No major political figure would identify with a release-Pollard petition, but now there are people in the political system who - without justifying his actions - are saying [clemency] is something that should be done," he said.
Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, said that "the American Jewish community is wall-to-wall for clemency, even people who were very, very angry [with Pollard for his actions]."
He pointed out that former U.S. government officials and members of Congress have signed letters asking for presidential clemency, and that "every day that goes by smacks of vengeance. ....Let him go for God's sake."
Foxman said he would bring to the cocktail reception a list of those who have signed letters asking for clemency, and that he hoped "something good" might come from this.
"This might yet turn around," he said. "This has focused attention on the issue. I always said this is something that needed to be done quietly, but we did not initiate this [discussion], he did."
Rabbi Steven Wernick, president of the United Synagogue for Conservative Judaism, who also plans to attend the reception, said he would welcome a future discussion about Pollard with Biden.
"Biden is certainly a friend of the Jewish community and a supporter of the State of Israel, and this is what really confuses me about this," he said. "I can't help but suspect there is more information at play than is available [to explain] why he would take a harsh stance on clemency."
But Rabbi Pesach Lerner, executive vice president of the National Council of Young Israel and a longtime supporter of Pollard, said he also "does not know what Biden knows, but I have to put trust in George Schultz, who was secretary of state when Pollard was arrested. He had an understanding of what Pollard did, and he wrote a letter [to Obama] saying enough is enough. [Former Central Intelligence Agency Director] Jim Woolsey told me he knew everything and that enough is enough."
Rabbi Lerner also questioned why Biden has changed his stance on Pollard. In an interview on Shalom TV in 2007, Biden said: "There is a rationale in my view why Pollard should be given leniency. There is a rationale for that."
Nathan Diament, who plans to attend the reception as director of public policy for the Orthodox Union of Jewish Congregations of America, said he expects Biden to bring up the subject of Pollard during his welcoming remarks.
It was Biden himself who brought up the subject of clemency for Pollard during his Sept. 23 meeting with a group of about 15 South Florida rabbis, according to interviews with about half of them.
Rabbi Efrem Goldberg of the Boca Raton Synagogue said Biden mentioned it after declining to comment about the case of Sholom Rubashkin, a former kosher slaughterhouse executive who was convicted last year of a variety of fraud charges and sentenced to 27 years in prison.
"He said, 'You probably would like to ask me about Pollard,'" Goldberg recalled. "He said, 'The president is not your problem on Pollard, I am.' And he said that the president was prepared to talk about clemency, 'but you'll have to get past me first.'"
Another rabbi remembers Biden saying: "I'm Irish and to me loyalty is the most important thing, and Jonathan Pollard is a traitor who deserves to spend the rest of his life in prison."
Asked by one rabbi whether Pollard had not already served enough time - he will begin his 27th year behind bars next month - Biden is said to have smiled and said no.
"It would take the Third Coming before I would support letting Pollard out," Rabbi Goldberg recalled Biden saying.
Rabbi Michael Gold of the Tamarac Jewish Center said he was surprised that Biden voiced little room for leniency "in a conversation that was very pro the wishes of the Jewish community."
Rabbi Goldberg said the only time Biden said he might consider agreeing to free Pollard was if a peace agreement in the Middle East depended on it.
"I personally regretted that we as a group did not object more strongly and allowed his emphatic rhetoric to pass without strong objection," he said. "Nobody said, 'Mr. Vice President, this is unacceptable.'"
"It's shocking to me that the White House has not responded to requests for clemency from the prime minister and president of Israel, the chief rabbis of Israel, three former CIA directors, Henry Kissinger, numerous members of Congress from both parties, and its only response was made to 15 rabbis with the vice president saying it would take the Third Coming before he would even think about it."
Contrary to published reports, the rabbis said Biden never claimed Pollard would receive clemency over his "dead body," but Goldberg said he "might as well have because that was the message he sought to communicate."
Although Biden never offered an explanation of why he felt so passionately about the issue, Rabbi Samuel Kieffer, spiritual leader of B'nai Aviv Synagogue in Weston, said he remembers Biden referring to Pollard as a "traitor" several times.
Rabbi Lerner pointed out that Pollard is not a convicted traitor.
"He was convicted of spying for a friendly country with no intent to harm the United States," he said, adding that he is the only person convicted of spying for a friendly country who received a life sentence.
Rabbi Lerner pointed out that the person who wrote the government's impact statement for the court was Aldrich Ames, a former Central Intelligence Agency counterintelligence officer who was later arrested and convicted of spying for the Soviet Union and Russia.
Rabbi Kieffer said he believes the purpose of the meeting "was an acknowledgement by the administration that Jewish support is decreasing and it wanted to find a way to shore it up. When it came to Israel, I think he was trying to convey to all of us that the support for Israel is still significant and serious and that the administration should be judged on its actions not on its words. He sort of acknowledged that some of the words that have come out have not been the best chosen."
Rabbi Jeffrey Kurtz-Lendner, the senior rabbi at Temple Solel in Hollywood, said he left early and missed the Pollard discussion but that what he heard convinced him that Biden had a complete grasp of the Israeli political scene.
"He clearly understands the complex political situation [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu has and that he is trying to hold his coalition together," he said. "He said he speaks with the prime minister several times a year and that he has known many people in the Israeli government throughout his career. ....Given the administration's public relations problem with the American Jewish community, I was surprised as to the frankness of the vice president's understanding of that PR problem."
Another rabbi who asked to remain anonymous said he remembered Biden "describing Obama as a 'young African American president' who is similar to a Jewish freshman in college - both don't have the same sensitivity about Israel as he has, growing up after the Holocaust and living through Israel's '67 and '73 wars. He was saying it is a generational thing, and at the same time he referred to Obama's 'body language' problems."
All of the rabbis interviewed said Biden's strong comments on Pollard were shocking, and one said it left him "dumbfounded." Another described Biden as "very callous and cold hearted." And a third said he was upset with himself for not getting up and walking out.
Pollard's wife, Esther, said in an e-mail that Biden''s comments were "as puzzling as they were troubling. ... Unlike those officials calling for Jonathan's release, Mr. Biden offered no explanation at all for his passionate call to keep Jonathan in prison for the rest of his life. Fortunately, [he] is not the one who will decide whether or not to commute Jonathan's sentence to time served. Only the president can make that decision. .... We are hopeful that Mr. Biden's remarks ... will elicit a swift response and clarification from the president."
Seymour Reich, a former chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, said he believes Biden's comments open the door for a reassessment.
"I think the president can still do it if he wants to," he said. "He can stand up to the intelligence community and do it. Pollard has served enough time and should be released on humanitarian grounds. It would certainly be propitious if he did it before Yom Kippur."
Rabbi David Saperstein, director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, said he too believes Pollard has served a "grossly disproportionate" sentence.
"In the midst of the Days of Awe, as we ponder the wrongdoings we have committed and pray for God's mercy, we pray as well that President Obama will act with mercy and grant Mr. Pollard long-overdue clemency," he said.

June 20, 2011

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February 10, 2011

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JANUARY 3, 2011

Emergency Over 500 Religious & Communal Leaders Call On President Obama To Release Jonathan Pollard - A broad-based interfaith coalition comprised of more than 500 members of the clergy and community leaders sent a letter today to President Barack Obama, in which they called on the President to commute the sentence of Jonathan Pollard. 

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Jonathan Pollard and the Jews


By Stewart Weiss – The Jerusalem Post – December 31, 2010


The whole sordid saga says volumes not just about justice – or the lack of it – but about the overall state of Diaspora Jewry.




Thankfully – finally – the effort to secure Jonathan Pollard’s freedom is heating up, a full quarter-century after he was put in prison. The government is poised to officially petition the US president for Pollard’s release. American dignitaries, from congressmen to former CIA directors to Justice Department officials, are speaking out and saying that Pollard’s punishment no longer fits his crime. And Jewish organizations are sending the message that any further incarceration is beyond all reason, and could only smack of anti-Semitism. The word on the Jewish street is “Let Jonathan go – now!”

But it wasn’t always this way.

On June 4, 1986, Jonathan Pollard pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to deliver national defense information to a foreign government. The classified documents which Pollard transferred to Israel included details of Arab nuclear, chemical and biological warfare capabilities being developed along with information on their ballistic missile development.

Pollard agreed to a plea-bargain with the US government, and prosecutors asked only for a “substantial number of years in prison.”

However, Judge Aubrey Robinson – who was not legally bound by the plea agreement – imposed a life sentence, rather than the median term of four years given to those spying for friendly countries. The judge was apparently swayed by a classified 46-page memorandum handed to him shortly before sentencing by secretary of defense Caspar Weinberger. The details of that memorandum have never been made public, but after the last-ditch pitch by Weinberger, Pollard didn’t stand a ghost of a chance.

With the specter of “dual-loyalty” charges hanging heavily in the air, the Jewish world recoiled in fear and trepidation. Positive that any outcry on Pollard’s behalf would call into question their allegiance to America, Jews backed off and suppressed their usual activism. The Israeli government, too, was scared stiff of losing US funding and support, and reacted in kind. It proclaimed that the Pollard affair was a “rogue, unauthorized” operation, downplaying the importance of the information it had requested and received from Pollard. It would be 10 years before the country would finally take responsibility, first by granting Pollard citizenship, and then by admitting, in 1998, that he was a bona fide Israeli agent.

SHORTLY AFTER Pollard began his life sentence, I wrote an article in a Dallas paper questioning both the fairness of his maximum sentence, and the wall of silence that had been erected around it by the Jewish community. The next day I received a phone call from Jonathan’s father, Morris Pollard, a professor of biological sciences at Indiana’s Notre Dame University. He had seen the article, and asked if I would be willing to host him at my synagogue so that he might speak to the community at large about his son’s situation. He felt totally abandoned by both his government – which he felt had reneged on the pre-trial agreement and was now keeping Jonathan in solitary confinement – and his people, who were totally unwilling to hear his side of the story. I immediately agreed to his request, and he and his late wife, Molly, flew to Texas from Indiana and joined us at our home for three days.

Almost immediately, as word spread that Dr. Pollard would be speaking, I began to receive threats, vociferous as well as veiled, that I would be “punished and ostracized” if I gave him a platform. I even received a death threat in the mail, which I turned over to the Dallas police. My synagogue was put under tremendous pressure to cancel the event but, to its eternal credit, refused to buckle under. Several hundred people turned out for the talk – held under heavy security – as Dr. Pollard painfully but eloquently presented his case.

The next day, I tried mightily to schedule a meeting between him and the leaders of the Jewish community, who had been quite noticeable in their absence at the previous evening’s gathering, but got nowhere. The Jewish federation, apparently on orders from the national leadership, would not hear of it. A colleague of mine, who headed the federation’s Israel committee and was in favor of such a meeting, was told in no uncertain language that any meeting with Dr. Pollard would be his last as committee chairman.

Frustrated, I paid a visit to the rabbi of Dallas’s Reform temple, the second-largest Reform congregation in the US – and one that included numerous “heavy hitters” whose support kept the federation solvent. I asked him if it was not true that the Reform movement prided itself on freedom of speech and the tolerance of opinions that sometimes differed from the Jewish establishment. With no small amount of courage, he placed calls to his entire board of directors and informed them that a special meeting of the membership would be held the next night, with Dr. Pollard as the guest speaker, and that he expected them to attend. He also called the federation director – in my presence – and advised him that his attendance – or lack thereof – would be duly noted.

And so Dr. Pollard was able to plead his cause before at least one Jewish community.

It took years before other American Jewish organizations followed suit and opened up to the Pollard case. With few exceptions – the Young Israel movement and Rabbi Pesach Lerner chief among them – no one wanted to go near this issue. It was only as Pollard’s sentence dragged on – his appeals failing, his prison conditions worsening, his health deteriorating – that the call to commute his sentence to time already served gained momentum.

Statements by celebrated attorney Alan Dershowitz that a travesty of justice was now at work, and by New York Sen. Charles Schumer that nothing in Pollard’s file justified denying him clemency, helped to arouse the public and lend legitimacy to assisting him in his plight.

But I suggest that this whole sordid saga says volumes not just about justice – or the lack of it – but about the overall state of Diaspora Jewry.

With all of our myriad accomplishments and contributions to Western society, for all of our Herculean advances in the economic, social and political arenas of America, we still are meek as a puppy and timid as a toddler when it comes to bucking the system and speaking up for what we believe – when it conflicts with the opinion of Big Daddy.

We still, deep down, fear that we are a foreign entity, a fifth column, a tolerated guest rather than a full-fledged citizen, and that any sectarian sentiment voiced too loud will result in a backlash of anti-Semitism and our being charged with treason, right along with Jonathan Pollard. Maybe it is the fear that we will discover that the American experiment has not succeeded as well as we hoped it would, and that Israel remains, after all, the only authentic home for the Jewish people.

THE POLITICIAN who arguably has fought the hardest for Pollard is Binyamin Netanyahu.

Years ago, at that same Dallas synagogue where Dr. Pollard spoke, we hosted Bibi. After a rousing speech, in the question-and-answer period, my wife asked him what he was doing to help Jonathan. He deftly side-stepped the question and merely said that he was working behind the scenes.

Later, at the reception, I formally introduced him to Susie. “You asked a good question back there,” he told her. “Then why didn’t you give a good answer?” she shot back. “Because I am a good politician!” he retorted.

It’s time for all of us to stop being just good politicians. It’s time to also be good Jews, and remove a blight not only on the American justice system, but on our own sense of Jewish pride. It’s time to bring Jonathan home.

The writer is director of the Jewish Outreach Center of Ra’anana

Nov. 23, 2010

Jonathan Pollard should be released now



17 Tammuz 5770   June 29,2010



Pollard, the ultimate gesture of friendship to People of Israel


Call President Barack Obama For Pollard Today!


When Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with President Barack Obama on July 6, 2010, hopes are high that the date will prove to be an historic one for both countries. Anticipating that mutual goodwill will produce concrete efforts for reconciliation, many pray that the President will send Jonathan Pollard Home with Mr. Netanyahu.



The Israeli People have been waiting 25 years for Jonathan Pollard. Public opinion polls in Israel consistently show that the People of Israel see the return of Jonathan Pollard as a national priority, with 84% to 92% supporting initiatives to secure Pollard's release. No other issue enjoys such wall to wall support.



The American people, speaking through their elected representatives, want President Barack Obama to act in support of Israel.  87 Senators recently signed a letter to the president urging that he show support for Israel. 31 Jewish Congressman recently met with the President and they too urged that he show support for Israel. The return of Jonathan Pollard would be the ultimate gesture of support, welcomed and enthusiastically embraced by all the People of Israel.


CALL THE WHITE HOUSE NOW: Tel: 202-456-1414 or 202-456-1111

Everyone is urged to participate in this  worldwide grassroots effort starting today, by calling  the White House, daily, every day from July 1st through July 6th repeatedly and often, to urge President Barack Obama to send Jonathan Pollard home to Israel.


Call between 9:00 AM and 5:00 PM EST.  To leave a message for the President, the White House Switchboard can be reached at 202-456-1414. The White House Comment Line can also be reached directly by calling 202-456-1111. Tell the President that releasing Jonathan Pollard would be the consummate act of friendship towards the People of Israel. Ask the President to please send Jonathan Pollard home with Mr. Netanyahu.



"With Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu scheduled to meet with President Obama in Washington on July 6, this is a golden opportunity for a gesture of friendship and reconciliation to be made by releasing Pollard and sending him home to Jerusalem, to his wife and to his People," said Rabbi Pesach Lerner, the Executive Vice President of the National Council of Young Israel, and one of the driving forces behind the Pollard campaign.

The Time Is Now to Press for Pollard's Release
By Farley Weiss - Hamodia - November 30, 2009
The failure to obtain Jonathan Pollard's release from his U.S. prison is primarily due to the fundamentally flawed policy of the leaders of Israel, and, no less, that of American Jewish leadership. They together continue to follow a strategy that has failed for twenty-five years - of quietly (if at all) pressing for Pollard's release, while at the same time withholding the necessary support for public efforts to secure Pollard's release.

Before the end of President Bush's tenure, the National Council of Young Israel (regrettably, almost the only Jewish organization that constantly publicly pushes for Pollard's release) organized a concerted call-in directed at the White House to appeal for Pollard's release. Moreover, efforts were undertaken to privately contact high-level people, past and present, from the Bush Administration to push for his release.

The National Council even persuaded friends of the president to advocate for his release, a relatively isolated endeavor because the government of Israel itself had no involvement and gave no assistance to these efforts. Simply stated, the failure to make this a case that warranted attention clearly did not help Pollard's chances to be released.
It is noteworthy that the U.S. activists lobbying for Pollard were not interviewed by Micha Lindenstraus, Israel's State Comptroller, who just completed an investigation of the Israeli Government's actions regarding Pollard. Yet it is public knowledge that Defense Minister Ehud Barak (then Prime Minister) pushed for a pardon for fugitive financier Mark Rich at the same time he was supposed to be singularly focused on Pollard's release. Barak's push for Rich gave President Clinton an excuse to say that he acceded to one of Israel's two requests - when it was known that Clinton had promised to release Pollard at Wye and then reneged on this promise. Known too is the fact that Prime Minister Olmert attempted to prevent Eli Yishai, the head of the Shas Party in Israel, from speaking to President Bush regarding Jonathan Pollard at a dinner in Israel.

We also know that whatever private efforts were carried out by Israeli leaders have failed. Thus, one must wonder why numerous substantial changes of policy were not advocated by Mr. Lindenstraus, even though in other investigations he usually does make such suggestions, and it is obvious that the current policy has been a failure.
I recently attended an event at which I approached one of the top Jewish leaders in the U.S., someone with access to President Obama. I asked him what President Obama's view was on Pollard. His response was particularly telling. He did not know, indicating that he had not used his access to Obama to address the matter.
In fact, to our knowledge, no Jew or Jewish organization has exploited their access to raise the Pollard issue in the ten months since Obama has been president (the National Council of Young Israel was not invited to the two recent Jewish Leaders meetings with President Obama, probably due to its public and outspoken right-of-center support for greater Israel).

Despite the many meetings between Prime Minister Netanyahu and former Senator George Mitchell, special envoy for Mideast affairs, we have yet to hear that Israel has demanded or received anything in return for concessions the U.S. is exacting. Quasi support for a Palestinian state and a removal of roadblocks are concessions Israel has already made without obtaining anything from the U.S. in return, and the U.S. continues to demand more concessions from Israel with no apparent quid pro quo. One might at a minimum expect some gesture to obtain Pollard's release.

Years ago, during the discussions that led to the Wye Agreement, it was well known that President Clinton promised then-Prime Minister Netanyahu that he would release Pollard - and then reneged on this promise at the urging of Dennis Ross. Ross is today one of the advisers to President Obama, and it appears that he has now switched his position, favoring Pollard's release. Unfortunately, since returning to office, Prime Minister Netanyahu has yet to mention Pollard in any speech or give any indication that this is an issue of concern for him, even though previously he had made the biggest effort to obtain Pollard's release and is the only Israeli leader who visited Pollard, albeit when he was not Prime Minister.

Considering the fact that President Obama is a former constitutional law professor, it seems reasonable to expect that we might convince him to support Pollard's release on the merits of the case. Furthermore, the argument that American presidents should be called upon to consider the pardon only during the last days of their tenure is misbegotten. It should be noted that the closest Pollard came to being released was during the 1998 Wye negotiations, not during the last days of the Bush Administrations. Thus there is no reason to wait another three years.

The failure by many different people in many different forums to raise the issue with the administration may have led President Bush to believe it is not important. This is not a subjective opinion of mine, but the exact message I personally received from a member of the Bush Administration. He unabashedly asked me why, if this was such an important issue, Jewish leaders are not bringing it up in their meetings with the president and the secretary of state, and unfortunately, as is the case now, with the Obama Administration?

Not relying upon the government of Israel or Jewish leaders in the U.S., I succeeded ten years ago in helping to convince former U.S. Senator Dennis DeConcini (Arizona), then head of the Intelligence Committee, to reverse his position and support Pollard's release. Moreover, in the last few years I also helped arrange for former CIA Director James Woolsey to go public with his support for Pollard's release. Both of these people know all of the classified information about Pollard and they believe he should be released.

They know that the average sentence for passing information to an ally is two to four years, that Pollard pleaded guilty and cooperated with the government, that he did not expose U.S. agents, and that he has expressed remorse for his actions. And yet he is still in prison and is now in poor health.  By supporting his release, these officials confirmed that the circular reasoning that Pollard must have done something terrible that we are not aware of to receive such a harsh, unprecedented sentence is simply false. This was confirmed by Lawrence Korb, deputy of former defense secretary Casper Weinberger, when he wrote Pollard's father that the severity of Pollard's sentence was due to Weinberger's visceral hatred for Israel.

A famous aphorism attributed to Albert Einstein seems applicable to the Pollard case: Insanity is continuing to do the same thing and expecting to achieve different results. That is why the current methods of pressing (or not pressing) the case for Pollard's release must change.  Coordination of efforts among Israeli leaders and lay and organizational leaders involved in the Pollard case needs to start now. Jonathan Pollard has suffered too long. His release from an unjust sentence needs to be pressed by those lobbying the administration, whether Israeli leaders or U.S. Jewish leaders. A twenty-five-year policy of silence has failed; it needs to change.

December is the main month for pardons and commutations of sentences by the President of the United States. So that Pollard will finally be released, we ask you, the readers of this column, to start on December 1 and continue through the month to call the White House to politely register support for the commutation of Pollard's sentence to time served.
The White House number is 202-456-1111.
Let us do our part, and maybe the American Jewish and Israeli leaders will finally do theirs.

Farley Weiss is 2nd Vice President of the National Council of Young Israel and President of Young Israel of Phoenix


Posted November 19, 2009

To many of us, November 21, 2009 may seem to be just another typical day on the calendar. The fact is, however, that this day carries with it a significance that warrants the attention of the greater Jewish community. On November 21, 2009, Jonathan Pollard will begin his 25th year in prison. It has been nearly a quarter of a century since Jonathan was arrested in 1985 and pleaded guilty to conspiracy to deliver classified information to the State of Israel, an ally of the United States.

The story behind his imprisonment is well known.  Jonathan Pollard never had a trial. At the request of both the U.S. and Israeli governments, he entered into a plea agreement, which spared both governments a long, difficult, expensive and potentially embarrassing trial. Jonathan Pollard fulfilled his end of the plea agreement, cooperating fully with the prosecution.  Nevertheless, Pollard received a life sentence and a recommendation that he never be paroled - in complete violation of the plea agreement he had reached with the government.  On March 4, 1987, he was sentenced to the maximum penalty, life in prison.

Jonathan Pollard has repeatedly expressed his remorse publicly and in private in letters to many Presidents and others. He has said that he sincerely regrets having broken the law and is sorry that he did not find a legal means to act upon his concerns for Israel.

Jonathan Pollard’s life sentence is grossly disproportionate when compared to the sentences of others who have spied for allied nations and even when compared with sentences given to those spying for non-allied nations.  Although the median sentence for his offense is 2 to 4 years, Jonathan Pollard is about to begin serving his 25th year in prison. He spent 7 years in solitary confinement in the harshest unit of the harshest prison in the Federal System - FCI Marian. Countless elected officials, individuals from the national intelligence arena and the legal world, as well as religious and community leaders, have described Jonathan Pollard’s sentence as excessive, and have called for his sentence to be commuted.

In addition, Jonathan Pollard is in poor health, having developed diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, pre-glaucoma, and arthritis while in prison.

We must take this opportunity to reflect on Jonathan Pollard’s plight and pray that his sentence is commuted so he can finally return home to Israel and reunite with his family.

The National Council of Young Israel urges people to say a prayer on behalf of Jonathan Pollard, which was composed by Rabbi Yonah Metzger, the Chief Rabbi of Israel.  To view the Chief Rabbi’s prayer, click here

In addition, the National Council of Young Israel encourages people to write to Jonathan Pollard in prison. Not only do the letters to Jonathan demonstrate to him that people care very deeply about the pain and suffering that he continues to endure, they also give him the necessary strength and support to continue.

Here is Jonathan’s mailing address:

Jonathan Pollard #09185-016
c/o FCI Butner
P.O. Box 1000
Butner, NC
U.S.A 27509-1000

“The Ghost of Israel’s Sealed Rooms,” was written by William Northrop, who was the Jerusalem bureau chief of New Dimensions Magazine. The article, which was initially printed in New Dimensions Magazine in 1992, provides an in-depth analysis of the integral role that Jonathan Pollard played in Israel’s decision to enhance its civil defense plan. The article examines how Jonathan’s intervention enabled Israel to be prepared for a possible chemical or biological attack by Iraq’s Saddam Hussein during the Gulf War.

To read this intriguing article in its entirety, click here

On Monday, Dec. 15th, 2008, the Chief Rabbi of Israel, Rabbi Metzger - along with Rabbi Pesach Lerner & Rabbi Shlomo Mostovsky of NCYI - visited Mr. Pollard in jail. After leaving the prison, YWN was granted an exclusive interview with Rabbi Metzger about the condition of Mr. Pollard. An audio file of the interview can be heard at the following link:

Click here to see the latest Hamodia article on the Pollard Case (April 16, 2008) : Part1 Part 2 Part 3

An Urgent Request from Jonathan Pollard
At the reqeust of Jonathan Pollard's attorneys, Eliot Lauer and Jacques Semmelman of Curtis, Mallet-Prevost, Colt and Moslet LLP, we are urging everyone to send a letter to his or her senators and Member of Congress, preferably in hard copy. The attorneys request that you not alter the text of the linked letter in any way, but that you send it exactly as written. The attorneys also request that you provide a copy of your letter to Eliot Lauer or to Jacques Semmelman by email or by fax 212-697-1559 so that they can maintain a complete record of what has been sent.

Please send letter as shown:



Here are some links that
should facilitate
communication with your elected officials:

Members of Congress


Media Release Re: Pollard
Widespread Demands for Jonathan Pollard, Arutz Sheva

Download letter

[To:  Elected Official]

Re:       United States v. Jonathan Pollard

Dear __________________:

 I am writing with regard to Jonathan Pollard, now serving his twentieth  year in prison. He was arrested in 1985 and pleaded guilty to conspiracy to  deliver classified information to the State of Israel. On March 4, 1987, he  was sentenced to the maximum penalty, life in prison.

In September 2000, Mr. Pollard's new attorneys Eliot Lauer and Jacques  Semmelman of Curtis, Mallet-Prevost, Colt & Mosle LLP filed a motion for  resentencing in the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C.. Their motion was based upon recent revelations, fully documented in their court papers, that Mr. Pollard's original defense lawyer was grossly ineffective before, during and immediately after sentencing. Mr. Pollard's life sentence was the direct result of deprivations of his constitutional rights to due process and effective assistance of counsel.

The Government's sole response to the motion was that Mr. Pollard waited too long. According to the Government, Mr. Pollard will have to spend the rest of his life in prison because he should have realized earlier that he has a meritorious basis for vacating his sentence on constitutional grounds. I am distressed that our Government has taken this position, which is incompatible with any notion of justice. Mr. Pollard's motion should have been addressed on the merits. The Government can still choose to allow Mr. Pollard's motion to be heard on the merits. That would be eminently fair, and would further the interests of justice. The Attorney General should direct the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia to agree that the motion should be heard on the merits.

As a separate matter, there are five partially-classified documents in the court's sentencing docket that no one representing Mr. Pollard has been permitted to see since he was sentenced. After a thorough background investigation, Messrs. Lauer and Semmelman were each granted "Top Secret" security clearance. They were determined eligible for the even higher "SCI" clearance upon showing "need to know." The U.S. Attorney has taken the disingenuous position that Mr. Pollard's lawyers have no "need to know" what is in their client's court docket. Yet, Government personnel opposed to relief for Mr. Pollard have repeatedly been afforded access to these very documents, based upon the Government's unilateral, extra-judicial assessment that its own employees have a "need to know." This disparity in access is unacceptable.

I urge you to exert moral pressure on the Attorney General to acknowledge that Mr. Pollard's lawyers have a "need to know" what is in their client's court docket.


 cc:      Eliot Lauer (
            Jacques Semmelman (