A Letter to US Ambassador to Israel, Dan Shapiro, Regarding Jonathan Pollard

Jonathan Pollard Jonathan Pollard
Jonathan Pollard was a US Naval intelligence analyst who, in the early 1980s, discovered information that Syria, Iraq, Libya, and Iran were developing nuclear, chemical, and biological warfare capabilities with the intention of attacking Israel. (When Pollard asked his superiors in the US Defense Department why information about the poison gas capabilities of Israel's sworn enemies was being withheld from Israel, he was told: "Jews are too sensitive about gas.") The information also included ballistic missile development by these countries and information on planned terrorist attacks against Israeli civilian targets (many of whom were US citizens). When bringing his discovery to the attention of his superiors, Pollard discovered that elements within the US intelligence establishment were deliberately withholding this vital information from the Israeli government in violation of a 1983 Memorandum of Understanding between the two countries that entitled Israel to the intelligence. According to high level US government officials at the time, President Ronald Reagan and Vice President George H.W. Bush (along with Caspar Weinberger and others) had been violating the memorandum in order to severely curtail Israel's ability to act independently in defense of her own interests and make Israel increasingly dependent on Washington in matters of national defense. Once aware of Reagan's betrayal, Pollard took it upon himself to warn Israel of the threat. (Pollard was an ideologue, not a mercenary. The FBI concluded after nine months of polygraphing that Pollard acted for ideological reasons only, not for profit. This fact was recognized by the sentencing judge who declined to fine Pollard.) Israel in turn took the necessary actions to neutralize the dangers but then, under orders from then Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres, abandoned Pollard to be arrested by the FBI in order to avoid a diplomatic confrontation with Washington.

In an effort to avoid a long and potentially embarrassing trial, both the US and Israeli governments urged Pollard to enter into a plea agreement — in which the government promised not to seek a life sentence. And while Pollard fulfilled his end of the plea agreement, the US government fail to fulfill its part of the agreement. The facts of the case tell a different story than those put forward by his enemies and other anti-semantic and uninformed individuals, e.g., Pollard was never indicted for harming the United States, nor was he ever indicted for compromising codes, agents, or war plans, nor was he ever charged with treason. Pollard was indicted on only one charge: one count of passing classified information to an ally, without intent to harm the United States.

Although the usual punishment for Pollard's offense is up to four years in jail, and although the US government promised a light sentence in exchange for his cooperation, Pollard was condemned to life imprisonment, a punishment considered excessive for passing even highly sensitive information to a friendly country. This sentence was handed down — in spite of the plea agreement — despite the fact that he was never accused of delivering classified information to an enemy of the United States. Rather, he was accused of delivering such information to Israel, a close and staunch US ally.

In addition to those listed below, former Federal Bureau of Investigation head William Webster, who headed the bureau during Israeli agent Jonathan Pollard's arrest, told The Jerusalem Post in an exclusive interview this week that he would no longer oppose US President Barack Obama commuting Pollard's life sentence to time served.

One fact that stands out significantly is that while the United States continues to refuse to honor the plea agreement it made with Pollard, it demands that Israel release hundreds of terrorists who have been tried and convicted of committing multiple, heinous murders, of whom many of the victims are US citizens.

The following is a letter by Rabbi Pesach Lerner, Executive Vice President Emeritus of the National Council of Young Israel and Co-Chairman of American Friends of the International Young Israel Movement, Israel Region.

Dear Ambassador Shapiro,

Mr. Ambassador, you were recently asked, at the General Assembly of the Jewish Federations of North America, held this year in Jerusalem, about presidential clemency for Jonathan Pollard. Your response? "Unusual circumstances are required for President Obama to get involved in the matter ... There is no reason to expect that the [Pollard] matter will be handled differently."

Unusual circumstances?

The president, prime minister and Knesset of an allied nation, Israel, ask the president of the United States to release their citizen, after Israel's public apology — and that's not unusual?

Former U.S. Secretary of State George Schultz, who was the sitting secretary at the time of Pollard's arrest, says it's time to release Pollard — and that's not unusual?

Former directors of the FBI, CIA, NSA and Department of Justice, who have all seen the Pollard file, say it's time to release Pollard — and that's not unusual?

Dennis Ross, Special Envoy to the Middle East for President Clinton, writes in his memoirs that even though he believes that Jonathan Pollard's life sentence is disproportionate and that Pollard deserves to go free, unconditionally, he still strongly advised the president not to free him. Why? Because Pollard is far too valuable as a bargaining chip with Israel to be released as a matter of simple justice. And that's not unusual?

Mr. Ambassador, a recent editorial in the Jerusalem Post stated:

"Pollard long ago used up all of his legal remedies pursuing justice, but the American justice system failed to provide any relief. This is incomprehensible, since the conduct of the case blatantly violated every concept of justice that America holds dear.

This includes:

  • A grossly disproportionate sentence,
  • A broken plea agreement,
  • The use of secret evidence,
  • A false charge of treason,
  • Ineffective assistance of counsel,
  • Ex parte communication between prosecutors and judge,
  • A lack of due process,
  • A sentencing procedure infected by false allegations and lies."

Any one of these reasons would be sufficient grounds for presidential intervention; how much more so when there are eight! And that's not unusual?

Murderers released but Pollard remains jailed Murderers released but Pollard remains jailed
Recent revelations inform that the American National Security Agency has been spying on its Western Allies, including Israel, for years; while Israel's spy remains in prison for almost three decades for spying in the United States on behalf of Israel, a friendly country — and that's not unusual?

Former Director of the CIA James Woolsey, speaking at a security conference in New York this month, when asked about Pollard, and when asked what he would tell President Obama, responded that he would tell the president to forget that Pollard is a Jew and just release him — and that's not unusual?

Mr. Ambassador, this entire situation is unusual!

I, too, was in Israel for the General Assembly.

After your comments, Yuli Edelstein, former Russian refusenik and current Speaker of the Knesset, opened the session of Knesset with a public request for his release.

Nir Barkat, the recently re-elected mayor of Jerusalem, welcomed the delegates of the General Assembly to Jerusalem, and commented, "There is one special person missing from this event, Jerusalem's honorary citizen, Jonathan Pollard. We want him home, in Jerusalem, very soon."

Natan Sharansky, former Russian refusenik, former Israel MK and Israel Government Minister, and current chairman of the Jewish Agency, speaking at the closing ceremony of the General Assembly, said 29 years is far too long; Pollard must be released; this gross injustice must end.

Mr. Ambassador, the entire Pollard case is unusual and, as such, requires that President Obama respond. Pollard's petition for executive clemency has been sitting on the president's desk since October 2010. All it requires is the president's signature. It's time!

[ Lee Underwood | Published: ########## ]

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