Representative Barney Frank, a liberal Democrat close to the Obama administration, is circulating a letter through the House of Representatives calling for clemency for Jonathan Pollard. There is a lot we do not know about Pollard’s case, but what we do know is that his sentence – a plea bargain! – was way beyond anything anyone else has gotten for spying for an ally (Israel) and that even those who pushed for his harsh sentencing – such as Sec. of Defense Casper Weinberger – have expressed long ago that Pollard has been in for long enough. Even though Pollard violated American law, he acted out of devotion to Israel. We may all have to admit that there is a little bit of Pollard in any American – Jewish or gentile – who loves the State of Israel and is passionate about helping her survive against those who wish to destroy her. Yes, we all need to respect the laws of our country, and never put American lives at risk, as Pollard may have done. At the same time, we have to be understanding and sympathetic to what motivated Pollard, and we have to honestly feel for his passionate sacrificing of his life for the State of Israel.
My Representative in Chicago, Jan Schakowsky, who is on the House Select Intelligence Committee, has signed on to this letter. If you agree that 25 years is enough prison for Jonathan Pollard, and that it is important not to forget about someone who was acting to help Israel, then please call or email your Representative, and ask if they have signed on to the Barney Frank letter. Rep. Frank has said that if this letter gets enough signatures, he will present it to the president. This is an rare opportunity to make a difference – I hope if you feel it is the right thing that you just pick up the phone and call your Representative and let them know how you feel.
Right after all our prayers to change the world, we have a real opportunity for positive change. Let’s not squander it.
Rabbi Asher Lopatin