Chief Rabbi Asks US Envoy: Have Mercy on Pollard

Rabbi David Lau told US Ambassador Shapiro: 'This is one of the most painful subjects for us.'

Gil Ronen,

Rabbi Lau and Ambassador Shapiro
Rabbi Lau and Ambassador Shapiro
Chief Rabbi's Bureau

Israel's Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi, Rabbi David Lau, held an extended meeting Wednesday with US Ambassador to Israel, Dan Shapiro, and spoke to him about ways of stregthening ties between American Jews and Israel.

The Chief Rabbi also asked the ambassador to use his influence in all possible channels in order to bring about the quick release of Jonathan Pollard from his US jail.

"I am not going into the legal aspects,” said Rabbi Lau, “but there is a quality named mercy that we all ask the Creator of the Universe to have toward us, and we, too, must have this merciful quality, mostly toward a person who has paid his debt and is in a very serious medical condition.

The rabbi asked Ambassador Shapiro to relay his request to US President Barack Obama. “This is one of the most painful subjects for us,” he said, “and releasing Pollard will only strengthen the trust and the connection between the US and Israel.” 

Reports surfaced in late December that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu had approached US Secretary of State John Kerry, and demanded Pollard's release within the framework of negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA). 

Netanyahu allegedly linked Pollard's release with the fourth batch of terrorists due to be released as part of the negotiating process, stating that MKs were unhappy with the measure and that releasing Pollard would be enough to appease them.

The White House denied the allegation, however, as did activists involved in the case, who called them "a political ploy" and noted that no official word had been released that an offer had even been made.

Pollard has been held in the US for more than 28 years after being convicted of spying for Israel. He was arrested by FBI agents in 1985 and has been held in harsh conditions ever since.