NEW YORK (Feb. 21)
An advocate for Jonathan Pollard is accusing former President George Bush of “vindictiveness and meanness of spirit” for denying the convicted spy’s appeal for clemency just one day before leaving office.
“I was shocked to see the request was rejected,” said Seymour Reich, “because we had been led to believe that if the president could not approve it, he would not act on the papers but let his successor act on it.”
According to Reich, who is president of the American Zionist Movement, the commutation application has been filed again with the Clinton administration.
The Jan. 19 denial of commutation followed the requests of several prominent Republican Jews for Bush to consider commutation. Given “the requests by people he knows and respects, for him to have denied the application is incomprehensible,” said Reich.
But Reich thinks he may have evidence for a motivation in a letter Neil Bush, the president’s son, sent in response to an appeal on Pollard’s behalf.
The president’s son explained that “I have had a policy of not lobbying Dad, a policy I have managed to uphold (for) three years, 111/2 months.”
Neil Bush went on to write: “Keep up your effective advocacy. Maybe the next guy in the White House will reward the many Jewish organizations that supported him with the commutation you request of Dad.”
This, said Reich, appeared disturbingly in keeping with a remark allegedly made by former Secretary of State James Baker, who was reported to have said, though he denies it, “Fuck the Jews, they don’t vote for us anyway.”
In November, at least 80 percent of the Jewish voters chose Bill Clinton, while George Bush received the lowest Jewish support of any Republican candidate in more than a decade.