US President Barack Obama has issued the traditional presidential pardons this Thanksgiving, but did not add Jonathan Pollard to his list.
However, on the 26th anniversary of Pollard’s arrest, an hour-long meeting between seven Jewish leaders and Vice President Joe Biden at Biden’s office in the White House left the group “encouraged”. Attendees at the Monday meeting included Abe Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League, Rabbi Eric Yoffie, President of the Union for Reform Judaism, Malcolm Hoenlein, Executive Vice Chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, Simcha Katz, President of the Orthodox Union, Rabbi Steve Gutow, President of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, and Rabbi Julie Schonfeld, Executive Vice President of the Conservative movement’s Rabbinical Assembly.
According to Pollard’s wife, Esther, Jonathan’s medical condition is grave, and he is weakening after 26 years in prison. On Sunday, Esther issued a statement in which she fretted that “I feel he’s withering away in front of my eyes.” Pollard has been hospitalized four times this year.
In late September, Biden told a group of rabbis at a meeting in Florida that “President Obama was considering clemency, but I told him, ‘Over my dead body are we going to let him out before his time.’ ”
In the past year, the movement to gain clemency for Pollard has gained steam, with many US Senators, Congressmen, and other high-ranking officials joining the call for Obama to set Pollard free.