Chief Rabbi Metzger Visits Jonathan Pollard
Pollard's great faith and his hope that he will be freed are incredible
Israeli Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger visited Jonathan Pollard in prison last Tuesday. With one month left in President George W. Bush’s term, efforts have stepped up to convince the American president to pardon Pollard and send him home to Israel.
Rabbi Metzger visited Pollard in Butner Prison in North Carolina, where he is currently serving his 24th year of a life sentence. Pollard was convicted in 1987 on one count of passing classified information to an US ally, Israel, which he obtained in his job as a US naval intelligence officer.
Pollard did not have a trial, but rather entered into a plea agreement with the US government. Despite his cooperation with the prosecution, the government imposed on him the maximum sentence possible. No other person convicted of passing classified information to an allied government has ever received a life sentence in the history of the US. The median sentence for Pollard’s offense is two to four years. Pollard has also expressed his remorse for his crime both publicly and in letters to US Presidents.
In an interview Sunday with Israel National News, Rabbi Metzger said that Pollard asked him to find someone to say the Kaddish memorial prayer for his mother, explaining that the prayer can only be said in minyan, a quorum of ten Jewish men, which he does not have access to in prison. Rabbi Metzger also said that Pollard asked about the health of Former Chief Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu and was happy to hear that his condition had improved. Rabbi Eliyahu has also taken a personal interest in freeing Pollard. Rabbi Metzger said, “[Pollard’s] great faith and his hope that he will be freed are incredible.”
Rabbi Metzger explained that he sent a letter to President Bush and is making every effort to help free Pollard. “This is the second time I have visited Pollard in prison in the last two and a half years,” Metzger said. “We are trying to convince President Bush to pardon Pollard before he leaves office. Right now White House officials are preparing pardon information for President Bush. We are trying to bring Pollard’s case to the public and the White House’s notice.”
In addition, the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations called on Bush to free Pollard just one week ago. Executive Vice Chairman Malcolm Hoenlein said, “It’s time that [Pollard] be released. He has expressed remorse.”
One month ago, Rabbi Pesach Lerner, Executive Vice President of the National Council of Young Israel, started a campaign to free Pollard called “Free Pollard Now,” aimed specifically at convincing outgoing President Bush, who leaves office on January 20th, 2009, to exercise his option to pardon Pollard while he still has the power to do so.
The Free Pollard Now campaign is online at www.freepollardnow.com. The web site provides instructions for the public to help Pollard by calling the White House daily, sending letters to the President, signing the online petition, and enlisting help from community leaders. The website also provides links to more Pollard information and offers the opportunity to donate to the cause for Pollard’s freedom.