Professor Morris Pollard was laid to rest Monday, denied the privilege of having his son Jonathan present to recite the Kaddish – the traditional Jewish prayer for the dead – over his grave.
Jonathan Pollard sat grieving for his father in his jail cell instead, his mother already having died -- also without his presence to comfort her in her final hours.
Despite thousands of phone calls that flooded the White House switchboard, an appeal to the U.S. State Department by Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren and pleas by dozens of Israeli lawmakers, the Obama administration refused to allow Pollard to attend his father's funeral.
Pollard's father, 95, was an award-winning microbiologist at the University of Notre Dame for half a century. His service to the country did not help him, however, when it came time to ask the authorities for a final visit with his son shortly before his death in South Bend, Indiana.
Unable by then to speak, Professor Pollard was able to nod and reportedly kissed the phone several times during the single telephone conversation his son was allowed with his dying father.
Imprisoned for more than 25 years for having passed classified information to Israel, an American ally, about terrorist activity, Pollard's sentence is seen by many as strangely harsh. He was sentenced to life in prison on one charge of passing classified information to a friendly nation – a crime that generally is punished with a 2 to 4-year prison term.
Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu made an unprecedented public appeal for Pollard's release earlier this year as well, joining a burgeoning list of Israeli and American leaders, including both Jews and Gentiles, who have called on President Barack Obama to grant him clemency.
“Unlike Arab prisoners who were convicted of horrendous terrorist attacks on innocent civilians and whom the government of Israel justifiably forbids from 'compassionate leave' Jonathan Pollard did not murder or commit a crime against any individual,” pointed out Shifra Hoffman, founder and director of the Victims of Arab Terror International (VAT) organization.
“He received a disproportionately severe sentence and should have been freed long ago by President Obama who has compounded this cruel and unusual punishment by refusing to let Pollard attend his father's funeral.
“VAT International calls upon all decent American citizens, Jews and non-Jews alive, to reject Obama's candidacy as a leader of the United States in the forthcoming U.S. presidential election by voting against him.”