For over a year the United States has been pushing Israel to free hundreds of Palestinian Terrorists as gesture of peace. What about the US freeing one prisoner as a gesture ? Especially since that one prisoner is serving a sentence that is out of whack with others.
Jonathan Pollard is into the 23rd year of a life sentence with no parole option for having passed classified information to a US ally. The data in question included information about Iraq’s offensive weapons capabilities that endangered Israel. Just last month, former Pentagon analyst Ronald Montaperto was sentenced to just three months in prison for passing highly classified US information to China. US officials said Montaperto’s actions “severely hampered” US efforts to track China’s covert arms sales to terrorism-sponsoring countries such as Iran, Syria and Pakistan.
Despite official attempts to downplay the efforts, US President Bush received a large dose of lobbying for the release of Jonathan Pollard during his visit to Israel. Letters from leading rabbis and public figures, newspaper ads, faxes, rallies and more were part of the intensive campaign to show Bush that no matter what signals he may receive from Israel’s Prime Minister, the Israeli public wants Pollard home immediately. A colorful full-page ad in The Jerusalem Post, read by Mr. Bush and his staffers in his King David Hotel suite Thursday morning, blared, “The People of Israel seek Pollard’s release!” The ad then notes a Motagim poll finding that 82% say President Peres and Prime Minister Olmert must ask for Pollard’s release during their meetings with Bush. Following an official letter to Bush asking him to free Pollard and signed by the faction heads of all nine Jewish parties in the Knesset, the ad concludes, “Dear President, you are our friend. You hold the key to his freedom. Free Jonathan Pollard now!” In addition, the King David Hotel was reportedly “flooded” with faxes from concerned citizens asking Bush to free Pollard. Shas Party chairman Eli Yishai defied a request by Olmert, and, at a special meal with Bush on Thursday attended by eight leading Cabinet ministers, gave the American leader two important letters concerning Pollard. One was from Israel’s former Chief Rabbi Ovadiah Yosef promising Bush “blessing and long life” if he frees Pollard. Rabbi Yosef’s letter explains the importance of the concept and religious obligation of “freeing captives” in Jewish tradition, and the urgency of the Pollard case in particular. The other letter Minister Yishai gave Bush was from Pollard’s wife Esther, with whom Yishai met earlier this week. The Shas leader said before the meal that he intended to tell Bush that there is a connection between Pollard’s freedom and the American request for Israel to release Palestinian terrorist prisoners. Yishai explained to Arutz-7’s Hebrew newsmagazine earlier this week, “The U.S. always asks us to make concessions to the Palestinians – so we can ask for some of our own… With the US asking us to come towards and make gestures towards our enemies, it is clear that the US can also make a gesture for us – namely, Jonathan Pollard.” Yishai said on Thursday evening that he had given the letters to Bush despite Olmert’s request not to do so. Olmert’s staffers said the Prime Minister, when meeting with Bush the day before, had requested Pollard’s release. Esther Pollard dismissed the Prime Ministerial effort as “a feeble attempt to discourage the massive public outcry for Jonathan’s release.” She added, “That’s not how a serious request is made to secure the release of an Israeli agent in peril after 23 years in jail. It’s not something you casually bring up and then leak to the press.” Yet another request for Pollard’s release, signed by the entire Jerusalem Municipal Council, was presented to President Bush by Jerusalem Mayor Uri Lupolianski when the two met at the King David Hotel on Wednesday. The letter was initiated by Council member Mina Fenton, who also brought about the changing of the name of a central Jerusalem intersection to “Freedom for Jonathan Pollard” Square. The name-change ceremony, organized by the Committee to bring Jonathan Pollard Home, was held this past Monday. Lupoliansky also gave Bush a letter requesting Pollard’s freedom from renowned Torah leader Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv of Jerusalem. The Committee to Bring Jonathan Pollard Home was encouraged by yet another development at the Thursday luncheon with the Israeli Cabinet members. The US delegation not only agreed to have Pensioners Affairs Minister Rafi Eitan participate in the luncheon, but Bush even greeted him warmly and shook his hand. Eitan has not set foot on American soil ever since Pollard’s arrest, fearing he himself would be arrested for his role in handling and overseeing the entire Pollard case on behalf of Israel’s intelligence services. The Committee reported in the name of “senior Israeli sources” that, “Ten years ago, this [a handshake between Eitan and an American president] would not have happened. There is no doubt that this is a very meaningful signal regarding Pollard’s release.” Among leading American personalities calling for Pollard’s release is former CIA Director James Woolsey, who recently told Arutz-7’s IsraelNationalRadio, “My view is that a 20-year sentence, I think, is enough… I think the close relationship between United States and Israel as fellow democracies is also a consideration, and so, at this point, I think Pollard has served a long enough sentence.”