JERUSALEM (JTA) — President Obama should free convicted spy Jonathan Pollard if he wants Jews to re-elect him to the White House, Israel’s chief rabbi said.
Yonah Metzger, Israel’s chief Ashkenazi rabbi, during a Shabbat sermon at Jerusalem’s Jeshurun Synagogue called on Obama to prove he is a friend of Israel "and immediately free Jonathan Pollard before applying pressure to advance diplomatic initiatives."
He threatened that American Jews would not help re-elect Obama if he did not grant Pollard clemency.
"I’m not making a prophesy, but rather echoing the frustrations of numerous American Jews who voted for him and are disappointed by his lackadaisical approach to the numerous appeals for Pollard’s release," he said, according to Israel Radio.
Pollard has been imprisoned in the United States for 25 years for spying for Israel while working as a civilian analyst for the U.S. Navy.
Current and former U.S. lawmakers and government officials have called on Obama in recent weeks to grant clemency to Pollard.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sent Obama a letter in January requesting clemency for Pollard, Israel’s first formal request for Pollard’s release.