Thirty Days to Go: Push for Pollard Intensifies
A video – the second of its kind - of Israeli leaders, public officials, religious leaders and educators calling for Pollard’s release from prison has been released. The five-minute video features a series of speakers from across the political spectrum calling on Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to simply ask his friend Pres. Bush to release Pollard.
Other activities are also underway on behalf of Pollard. Over 12,500 Israelis have used a toll-free number to call the White House and ask Bush to grant clemency to Pollard. In addition, a rally is scheduled for the fast day of Asarah B'Tevet, Tuesday, January 6th, in Independence Park in Jerusalem, opposite the U.S. consulate.
Not for What He Did, But for What Was Done to Him
Pollard was imprisoned in 1985 and was convicted on one count of passing classified information to a U.S. ally, Israel. Despite a plea bargain agreement, he was sentenced to life in prison; the average sentence for such a crime is 2-4 years in prison.
Pollard lost the chance to ever directly appeal his sentence simply because of a technical oversight by his then-lawyer, Richard Hibey. As the JonathanPollard.org website explains, “Hibey, astonishingly, failed to file a time-limited statement of intent to file a direct appeal. This failure - too gross to be a mere oversight - then prevented Jonathan Pollard from ever exercising his constitutional right to a direct appeal of his sentence.”
Atty. Jacques Semmelman, who took on the Pollard case many years later at no charge, later made a claim of “ineffective assistance” on Pollard’s behalf, explaining, "I was appalled at the quality of the legal representation Jonathan received. It became apparent to us that Jonathan Pollard was sentenced to life not because of what he did, but because of what was done to him."
Left to Right Call for Pollard's Return Home
Among the personalities on the video are top figures in the left-wing Shomer HaTza’ir movement, the national kibbutz movement, and the religious kibbutz movement. Tel Aviv Chief Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau and Rabbi Yitzchak David Grossman of Migdal HaEmek are also featured.
The movie, like its predecessor that was released a month ago, ends with a dramatic call, on the backdrop of a photo of Olmert with his arm around a smiling Bush: “Mr. Prime Minister: This is your responsibility! Don’t miss this opportunity. Bring Pollard back home - alive!”
Given Pollard’s life sentence and ill health, many feel that this could be Pollard’s last chance to be freed from prison.
An international phone-in campaign to the White House on behalf of Pollard has been underway for the past month. In the last ten days alone, more than 10,000 Israelis have called. The toll-free number to dial in Israel is 077- 5664305; callers are asked to leave a short message for President Bush. Within the U.S. and elsewhere outside Israel, the White House numbers to call are 202-456-1111 or 202-456-1414.
Among the prominent personalities who spoke on the first video were former Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Danny Ayalon, Nobel Prize winner Prof. Yisrael Aumann, former Supreme Court justice Tzvi Tal, and former Justice Minister Amnon Rubenstein of the ultra-left Meretz party.
In addition, nearly 200 rabbis throughout Israel, including past and present Chief Rabbis, chief rabbis of cities and regional councils, and more, have signed an open letter to President Bush, stating simply:
“As a G-d fearing people, we feel a humane and ethical duty to write you... Mr. Jonathan Pollard is currently serving his 23rd year in prison. He is ill and his condition is serious. We respectfully request that you act mercifully towards him. Please grant him clemency as a humanitarian gesture to the Jewish People and the State of Israel. With G-d's blessing, Mr. Pollard's release will bring only good to the United States and the American People.”