Mitt Romney has rejected pleas from campaign benefactor and billionaire Sheldon Adelson to call for freeing Jonathan Pollard from prison, according to the Daily Beast.
Romney has taken a strong pro-Israel stand, but the issue of Pollard is extremely sensitive for Americans, particularly for conservatives such as Romney. However, at this point it is not clear what he would do if elected.
Although Pollard was convicted only for passing classified information on behalf of Israel and was not convicted of espionage, he is constantly termed a “spy” in American mainstream media, a term that is equivalent to "traitor” for millions of Americans.
Pollard is serving a life sentence for an offense that usually draws a jail term of 2-4 years, and a growing number of politicians who were involved with the case have publicly stated that his trial and sentence were unfair.
Hopes for clemency by President Barack Obama were dashed two months ago when the president ignored the subject when awarding President Shimon Peres the Freedom Medallion, America’s highest civilian honor.
Any remaining hope for the time being was all but extinguished during a recent visit to Israel by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who said freeing Pollard is not on Obama's agenda.
The prospect of Romney's becoming the next president reignited efforts on behalf of Pollard, but not even Adelson has been able to move Romney at this point.
Adelson has contributed tens of millions of dollars to Republic party political action committees, and has said his contributions to support Romney will be “limitless.”
“It was foolish of anyone to expect even someone as sympathetic to Israel as Romney to say anything about the case during the election campaign,” wrote Commentary’s Jonathan Tobin on Monday.
The Daily Beast wrote that one source close to talks between Adelson and Romney said “Romney “could not consider the Pollard situation because he doesn’t have access to the classified information.”
On other issues, Romney has not publicly agreed with Adelson’s position that the “peace process” is a waste of time nor has the presumptive GOP presidential candidate categorically stated he would move the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, a move that would, in effect, recognize Israeli sovereignty over the entire city. During his visit to Israel last week, Romney did state clearly that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel.