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September 3, 2015 / 19 Elul, 5775
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Jonathan Pollard And The McFarlane Factor


Demonstrations for the release of Jonathan Pollard

Demonstrations for the release of Jonathan Pollard
Photo Credit: Miriam Alster/Flash90

Israeli President Shimon Peres, during his meeting with President Obama on Sunday, asked the president to release Jonathan Pollard. It was also reported that Prime Minister Netanyahu planned to make the same request of the president at their meeting on Monday. There have been no reports about how Mr. Obama responded to the Peres request or whether Mr. Netanyahu did in fact make similarly petition the president. To be sure, reports of this sort have surfaced before and led to much useless speculation, but a recent development on the Pollard front could be significant.

Over the past two years, a number of former high-ranking U.S. officials – several with national security responsibilities – have called for Mr. Pollard’s release on various grounds. Several weeks ago it was reported that Robert “Bud” McFarlane, President Ronald Reagan’s national security adviser at the time of the Pollard arrest and obviously someone privy to all the information known to the government – wrote a letter to President Obama asking that Mr. Pollard’s sentence be commuted to time served. Significantly, Mr. McFarlane characterized Mr. Pollard’s life sentence as a “great injustice,” something “well beyond what any court would award for the same action today.”

Even more significant was what Mr. McFarlane had to say about the pre-sentencing affidavit of Caspar Weinberger, which was credited with sealing Mr. Pollard’s fate:

I must add that the affidavit filed by former Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger, was surely inspired in large part by his deeply held animus toward the state of Israel. His extreme bias against Israel was manifested in recurrent episodes of strong criticism and unbalanced reasoning when decisions involving Israel were being made.

We recognize that President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu are dealing with issues that may affect the fate of tens of millions of people. But that does not mean the palpable injustice visited on an individual by a vengeful government official has no place at the table. Especially at Purim time.

It is time to let Jonathan Pollard go home. He has languished in a federal prison under a Draconian sentence long enough.

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