Former chief rabbi urges freedom for Pollard

Former chief rabbi urges freedom for Pollard

Yisrael Meir Lau, in open letter to Obama, urges clemency for imprisoned spy on humanitarian grounds

Rabbi Meir Lau (photo credit: Miriam Alster/Flash 90)
Rabbi Meir Lau (photo credit: Miriam Alster/Flash 90)

Granting freedom to Jonathan Pollard would be a historic humanitarian gesture, wrote Tel Aviv Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau, a former chief rabbi of Israel, in an open letter to US President Barack Obama published Sunday in Maariv.

Lau urged Obama to pardon Pollard, who has been imprisoned since 1987 on charges of passing top secret documents to Israel while under the employ of US Naval Intelligence, and allow him to “live the rest of his life with his wife Esther in Israel, which has granted him citizenship.”

Pollard’s life sentence is “perhaps unparalleled in American history” and he has “extremely serious” health issues and a “dwindling” life expectancy, Lau wrote.

“He was sentenced on felony offense charges, the delivery of classified defense information to a foreign country, although friendly — the State of Israel,” the former chief rabbi said. “[Pollard] pleaded guilty and expressed a deep and sincere regret for the serious incident, even if done to help the security of Israel.”

Obama is head of the “mightiest superpower,” which is based not just on “military, economic, and political” might but on the “spiritual power” of “freedom and liberty,” and granting Pollard’s freedom would be “a humanitarian gesture worthy of inclusion in the annals of mankind,” Lau wrote.

According to the US Department of Justice prisoner registry, Pollard will be able to qualify for parole in November 2015.

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