Yet another public figure has called on President Obama to release Jonathan Pollard from prison: Noam Shalit, father of hostage IDF soldier Gilad Shalit.
Speaking from the Shalit vigil in Jerusalem, which yesterday marked Gilad’s 1,700th day in Hamas captivity in Gaza, Noam Shalit said that Pollard “has served his sentence, and the time has come to free him." Shalit added, "We hope all the prisoners and missing soldiers return home safely."
The brief remarks by the father of a terrorists-held captive are taken to mean that the U.S. should not behave like Hamas in holding prisoners – even convicted ones – ad infinitum.
Shalit’s comments are even more poignant in that Pollard has come out in the past against releasing terrorist prisoners in exchange for Shalit, Pollard himself, or any other captive.
Many prominent Americans have come out publicly on behalf of clemency for Pollard (see below). They have explained nearly unanimously that the disproportionate nature of Pollard’s punishment – more than 25 years in prison, so far, six times more than the average sentence for his crime – requires remedial simple justice to be taken by the U.S. government.
Meanwhile, 19 former Soviet Prisoners of Zion wrote to Obama last week, asking him to grant Pollard clemency. “Your silence worries us,” the 19 wrote to Obama. “We, former Prisoners of Zion in Soviet Russia, know the danger of silence. We know the terrible suffering that comes with each passing day in prison. Therefore, we appeal to you with a heartfelt cry - end this Jewish prisoner's prolonged and terrible ordeal! You are the only one who can do so. Please, Mr. President, free Pollard now!”
The list of signatories is headed by Yosef Mendelevich, followed by prominent refuseniks Ida Nudel, Yosef Begun, and Silva Zalmanson. A less well-known signatory is Dov Shperling, 74, who was sentenced to two years in the Gulag for "conducting Zionist propaganda among Jewish youth and students in Riga” and the like; released in 1959, he received permission to leave the USSR for Israel in 1968.
Some of the signatories penned a letter seven years ago, complaining of the failure of American Jewry to take action on Pollard’s behalf.
The constantly growing list of prominent Americans who have recently called for Pollard’s release includes the following:
- Former U.S. Vice President Dan Quayle
- Former CIA Director James Woolsey
- Former U.S. Secretary of State George Schultz
- Presidential candidate and ex-Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee
- Black Hebrew Rabbi Capers Funnye, Jr. (first cousin once removed of Barack’s wife)
- Former White House Legal Counsel Bernard Nussbaum
- Former U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey
- Former U.S. Senate Select Intelligence Committee Chairman Dennis Deconcini
- Former U.S. Deputy Defense Secretary Lawrence Korb
- Former U.S. Navy Cryptologist Major Donald Levy
- Former U.S. Deputy Attorney General Phillip Heymann
- Obama's Mentor Harvard Law School Professor Charles Ogletree
- a host of members of the U.S. Congress
- and over 500 religious and communal leaders.