Obama, It's Time to Free Pollard

Casper Weinberger's assistant, Lawrence Korb, has said that Pollard should be freed. Schumer and others also saw the secret documents and agree, but the only legal recourse left is presidential clemency. A reasoned appeal to Obama.

Dr. Moshe Dann

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Suggesting that Jonathan Pollard should be freed in exchange for continuing the "freeze" on Jewish building in Judea and Samaria was an empty gesture, although both issues are hostages of injustice. Bargaining for the life of a human being who tried to help Israel is appropriate; letting him rot in jail is not. That is unjust and immoral.

Extending the restriction for three months, or three years won't bring peace. That will only happen if, and when, Palestinian leaders are willing to accept Israel's legitimacy as a Jewish state, the historical homeland of the Jewish People, and end all terrorism and incitement. Discriminating against Jews is wrong; the "freeze" accomplished nothing, and, in fact, encouraged Palestinian intransigence.

The reason President Obama should free Pollard is because it is the moral thing to do. Pollard never got a fair trial; he pleaded guilty, fully cooperated with the authorities, was offered a plea bargain, promised a reduced sentence and was betrayed. Pollard has been imprisoned far longer than any other person convicted of a similar crime – passing information to an ally.  

Pollard did not get competent legal representation. His lawyer, Richard Hibey, a Lebanese-American, who later represented the PLO, failed to file an almost automatic appeal, thus depriving Pollard of his right to appeal forever.

Shimon Peres, then Prime Minister, Eliyakim Rubenstein, then Attorney General, and Rafi Eitan, who was intelligence chief, did nothing to help, denied that Pollard was an Israeli agent, and abandoned him. None of them has ever contacted Pollard, or visited him in prison. Many rabbis, from Israel and the USA, have done so.

By the time Pollard did get good legal advice, it was too late, and the government refused to allow them to see "secret documents." The entire matter, especially seven years Pollard spent in solitary confinement and his interminable sentence is a grave injustice. President Obama should grant clemency because it is the decent thing to do.

President Obama should free Pollard because it would give him credibility with voters, and, therefore, will help the Democratic Party and his own goal of re-election. It would thrill every Israeli, and every Jew in the world. An act of compassion, it would bring closure to an unfortunate incident, and heal an open wound.

Keeping Pollard in prison serves no purpose. After a quarter of a century, it is simply "cruel and unusual punishment." He poses no threat, or danger to society, or security and he has certainly suffered, many believe unfairly.


Freeing Pollard would demonstrate President Obama's courage to make difficult decisions, and give meaning to his message of hope. It would be a measure of his stature and a fulfillment of his promise. It would be a noble act, to which some may object, but for which many millions would be thankful.


Bartering for Pollard's life is cheap; it degrades those who make the offer, and defiles those who refuse clemency. There is enough pain in the world; Pollard's freedom should not be part of a political haggling for the precious time he has left.


Pollard's continued confinement disgraces America, and American justice; it also shames Israel, the country that asked him to provide intelligence information that should have been provided through normal channels to an American ally.


Why has President Shimon Peres remained silent?