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American Jews Have Turned Their Backs On Pollard


That call was supported by dozens of members of the U.S. Congress, state legislatures and city councils, leading newspapers throughout the United States, members of the Hollywood community, world-renowned civil rights activists and prominent Christian religious leaders.

Thus by the end of 1993, the American Jewish community recognized the serious injustice in Jonathan’s continued incarceration, expended great efforts in trying to obtain his freedom and had much success in explaining the malfeasance of the U.S. government’s treatment of Jonathan.

In the 1994 midterm elections, in all regions of the country, there were incumbent members of Congress and challengers for those seats who made a point of publicizing their support for the commutation of Jonathan’s life sentence. In fact, for some newly elected members of Congress that year, writing President Clinton on the Pollard affair was one of their first orders of business following their inauguration.

By 1996, however, American Jewry’s efforts began to fizzle out, eventually grinding to a virtual halt. Not surprisingly, in contrast to the 1994 elections a dozen years earlier, the Pollard case was a non-issue in last November’s midterm elections.

Various explanations can be offered for the withering of activity, but none are satisfactory. If the American Jewish community was able to galvanize on Jonathan’s behalf at a time when he had spent “only’’ eight years in prison, there can be no justification for its sheepish acquiescence as he looks ahead to his 23rd Passover in prison.

The biblical commandment to pursue justice demands that American Jews snap out of their stupor on the Pollard case and recapture the spirit they had in the early 1990’s. Such a renewal, coupled with long-delayed action by the government of Israel, can overcome those still obsessed with exacting pounds of flesh from Israel and the American Jewish community, and at long last bring about Jonathan’s freedom.

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March 4 marked the 20th anniversary of the unprecedented life sentence meted out to Jonathan Pollard. It’s an appropriate time to take stock of the response of the American Jewish community and the government of Israel to his arrest, sentencing and continued incarceration.

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