The Conservative Jewish movement for the first time is urging President Bush to consider clemency for Jonathan Pollard.
"We do not minimize the treasonous nature of Pollard’s espionage, for which he was rightfully arrested, tried, and sentenced," wrote United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism international president Raymond Goldstein and executive vice president Rabbi Jerome Epstein in a Dec. 24 letter to the president. "But he has been imprisoned since 1985, and has served far more time in prison than anyone else convicted of espionage, even those who were in the pay of enemies of the United States."
"Given the disproportionate length of his sentence, we strongly believe that it would be an act of kindness consonant with the deepest American values to grant him clemency," said the letter.
The letter comes after the USCJ’s board of directors passed a December 21 resolution calling for the president to commute the sentence of Pollard,who was convicted of one count of delivering classified information to Israel. The movement’s rabbinical arm, the Rabbinical Assembly, adopted a similar resolution in 1995.
Here is the full USCJ letter and resolution:
December 24, 2008
Dear President Bush,
On behalf of the board of directors of the United Synagogue of Conservative
Judaism, we urge you to consider clemency for Jonathan Pollard.
United Synagogue represents almost 700 Conservative Jewish congregations
across the United States.
We do not minimize the treasonous nature of Pollard’s espionage, for which
he was rightfully arrested, tried, and sentenced. But he has been imprisoned
since 1985, and has served far more time in prison than anyone else
convicted of espionage, even those who were in the pay of enemies of the
Given the disproportionate length of his sentence, we strongly believe that
it would be an act of kindness consonant with the deepest American values to
grant him clemency. We hope and pray that you choose to do so.
We attach a copy of the resolution urging clemency below. The board approved
it overwhelmingly in a vote taken at its last meeting, held in Washington,
DC, on December 21, 2008.
Raymond B. Goldstein, Ph.D.
Rabbi Jerome M. Epstein
Executive Vice President
UNITED SYNAGOGUE OF CONSERVATIVE JUDAISM
BOARD/EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE MEETING
MARRIOTT WARDMAN PARK HOTEL
SUNDAY, DECEMBER 21, 2008
Resolution recommended by the Committee on Public Policy and Social Action
and accepted by the board of directors, December 21, 2008:
WHEREAS, Jonathan Pollard committed treasonous acts of spying against the
United States for an American ally for which he was sentenced to life in
WHEREAS, Jonathan Pollard has been serving his life sentence since 1985; and
WHEREAS, Jonathan Pollard has now served longer than any other person
convicted of espionage against the United States and 6 to 12 times the
median sentence for this offense, which is 2 to 4 years; and,
WHEREAS, in the most recent espionage case, on December 16, 2008, Mohammad
Reza Alavi, an Iranian-born American spy who was employed at America’s
largest nuclear plant, was sentenced on his conviction for stealing and
providing nuclear software to Iran, which is certainly not an American ally
today, to fifteen-months in prison; and,
WHEREAS, the disproportionate sentence received by Jonathan Pollard has been
noted in requests for clemency by Cardinal Bernard Law of Boston; Archbishop
John R. Quinn of San Francisco; Father Robert Drinan, Professor of Law,
Georgetown University; New York City Mayors Rudolph Giuliani and David
Dinkins; Elie Wiesel; Benjamin Hooks, Executive Director of the NAACP;
Jerome Shestack, President of the American Bar Association; and numerous
Members of the United States Congress, both representative and senators,
among many others; and,
WHEREAS, as early as 1995, the Rabbinical Assembly adopted a resolution
calling for clemency and reduction of Jonathan Pollard’s sentence to time
NOW, THEREFORE, this 21st day of December 2008, the United Synagogue of
Conservative Judaism calls upon President George W. Bush to commute the
sentence of Jonathan Pollard to time served and to order his release; and
furthermore, calls upon its member congregations and their members to urge
President Bush grant such clemency for Jonathan Pollard.