NEW YORK (Sep. 21)
The leaders of the Anti-Defamation League have written President Clinton, asking him to commute the sentence of Jonathan Pollard.
The letters, sent on the eve of Rosh Hashanah by ADL National Chairman Melvin Salberg and National Director Abraham Foxman, reflect the continuing acceptance of the campaign for the former U.S. Navy analyst’s freedom by the main-stream of the American Jewish community.
Not until this past year did organizations such as the American Jewish Committee and the American Jewish Congress adopt cautiously worded statements asking for a presidential review of Pollard’s life sentence for passing secrets to Israel.
Because the Anti-Defamation League remains one of the few organizations not supporting the pro-Pollard campaign, Foxman and Salberg wrote their letters as expressions of their individual, not organizational, views.
Pollard’s lawyers have filed a request for commutation with the Justice Department. Clinton recently promised to “give consideration to all the relevant facts in order to make a fair and just determination” once he receives a Justice Department recommendation on the case.
Sheldon Rudoff, president of the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America, visited Pollard on Monday and said the former analyst was encouraged by the letters of the ADL officials.
Rudoff reported that Pollard, who was recently moved from a maximum-security prison in Marion, III., where he was kept in solitary confinement, to a medium-security facility in Buttner, N.C., was “very positive in his attitude, showing a remarkable resilience after years of solitary.”
Pollard is now sharing a dormitory room with 40 other inmates, and is working eight-hour days as a cutter in a prison factory.
“He seems a rehabilitated person,” said Rudoff, whose group is organizing a nationwide petition drive on Pollard’s behalf at its hundreds of Orthodox synagogues. “He does not want to be deemed a hero or be remembered for this.”
Pollard was thankful for all the people who are supporting his effort to be released, and particularly “for the grass-roots support he’s getting,” said Rudoff, who was accompanied on his visit by Raphael Butler, national director of the Orthodox Union.
Salberg, in his letter to Clinton, reiterated that the ADL found no evidence of anti-Semitism in the sentencing of Pollard. Nonetheless, he wrote, “it is my personal view that as serious as his crime was, Jonathan Pollard has paid his debt to society.”