WASHINGTON (JTA) — Top US Jewish organizations joined the call on President Obama to release Jonathan Pollard because of his reported illness.
“A few months ago we visited Jonathan Pollard in prison and came away concerned about his health and the medical challenges he faced,” said a letter sent this week to Obama from Richard Stone, the chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, the foreign policy umbrella for the Jewish community, and Malcolm Hoenlein, its executive vice president. “The news of his hospitalization has augmented those concerns. We join President Shimon Peres and scores of American intellectual, religious, political, and civic leaders in appealing for his prompt release.”
Peres, the Israeli president, on Monday appealed to Obama to grant clemency to Pollard, who has been imprisoned since 1986 for spying for Israel.
Pollard, 57, reportedly was hospitalized last week although his condition and the nature of his illness remain unclear.
Also urging Pollard’s clemency in light of the hospitalization was the Union for Reform Judaism.
“Jonathan Pollard has been incarcerated for nearly 27 years, after pleading guilty to espionage to an ally,” said the statement by URJ President Rabbi Rick Jacobs. “While we do not condone Mr. Pollard’s actions, we believe he has served his time. In studying precedents, no other individual convicted of similar crimes has served such a lengthy sentence. Further, the humanitarian justification is intensified by his deteriorating health condition.”