by Hillel Fendel
(IsraelNN.com) A massive and concerted effort is being made to bring about the release of Jonathan Pollard from prison after 23 years – directed both at PM Olmert and Pres. Bush.
In the knowledge that outgoing U.S. President George W. Bush is currently preparing a list of possibly hundreds of American prisoners to pardon, the goal of the international campaign is to have Jonathan Pollard included.
Many feel that this could be Pollard’s last chance, after 23 years in prison.
With Prime Minister Ehud Olmert scheduled to leave in a few days for a parting visit with U.S. President George W. Bush – who will leave office in two months’ time, just a few weeks before Olmert is to be replaced –massive pressure is being exerted on Olmert to ask Bush for a pardon.
In addition, a phone-in campaign to the White House, in which concerned citizens ask Bush directly to let Pollard to go home, is also getting underway. The Washington phone numbers are: 202-456 -1111 or 202-456-1414.
A film is being circulated via the Internet, in which a host of public figures from both sides of the political spectrum are heard to express their opinions and feelings in favor of Pollard’s urgent release.
Among them are former Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Danny Ayalon (“the issue must be on their agenda at the parting ceremony”), former Justice Minister Amnon Rubenstein of the Meretz party, former IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Moshe Yaalon, former radical left-wing MK Lova Eliav, Nobel Prize winner Prof. Yisrael Aumann (“I feel personally ashamed and I apologize”), former Supreme Court justice Tzvi Tal, journalist Mati Golan, Prof. Reuven Orda of Tel Aviv University, Makor Rishon editor Amnon Lord, Prof. Eli Pollack, Technologiot editor Dorit Aldoubi, former Deputy Education Minister Moshe Peled, and many more.
The film ends with this message:
“Mr. Prime Minister: This is your responsibility! Do not miss this chance! Bring Pollard back home – alive!”
To see the film (in Hebrew), http://www.pollardnow.org/.
To see a letter written by the above personalities, http://www.jonathanpollard.org/2008/111608.htm.
In addition, dozens of rabbis from throughout the State of Israel have signed an open letter to President Bush, stating simply:
“As a G-d fearing people, we feel a humane and ethical duty to write you concerning a deeply heartfelt matter. Mr. Jonathan Pollard is currently serving his 23rd year in prison. He is ill and his condition is serious. We respectfully request that you act mercifully towards him. Please grant him clemency as a humanitarian gesture to the Jewish People and the State of Israel.
“With G-d's blessing, Mr. Pollard's release will bring only good to the United States and the American People.”
The letter is signed by nearly 200 rabbis, including past and present Chief Rabbis, members of the Chief Rabbinate Council, chief rabbis of cities and regional councils, and more.
Not for What He Did, But for What Was Done to Him
Pollard was convicted on one count of passing classified information to a U.S. ally – Israel – and lost the chance to ever directly appeal his sentence simply because of a technical oversight by his then-lawyer, Richard Hibey. As the JonathanPollard.org website explains, “Hibey, astonishingly, failed to file a time-limited statement of intent to file a direct appeal. This failure - too gross to be a mere oversight - then prevented Jonathan Pollard from ever exercising his constitutional right to a direct appeal of his sentence.”
Atty. Jacques Semmelman, who took on the Pollard case many years later at no charge, later made a claim of “ineffective assistance” on Pollard’s behalf, explaining, "I was appalled at the quality of the legal representation Jonathan received. It became apparent to us that Jonathan Pollard was sentenced to life not because of what he did, but because of what was done to him."