Jewish movements renew Pollard clemency appeal


(JTA) — Representatives of the Orthodox, Conservative and Reform movements renewed their appeals to President Obama to grant clemency to Jonathan Pollard.

The calls over the weekend for Pollard’s release came from the Union for Reform Judaism, the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, the Rabbinical Assembly, the National Council of Young Israel, Agudath Israel of America and the Orthodox Union. The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, the central coordinating body representing 51 national Jewish organizations, also called on Obama to grant clemency for Pollard.

In their clemency appeals, the Jewish leaders threw their weight behind the official request from Israeli President Shimon Peres to Obama to release Pollard, according to a statement from the Justice for Jonathan Pollard organization.

"We join President Shimon Peres and scores of American intellectual, religious, political, and civic leaders in appealing for his prompt release," wrote Richard Stone and Malcolm Hoenlein, the chairman and executive vice chairman of the Presidents Conference. "Given his clear expressions of remorse and pledges regarding his activities upon release, we believe the commutation of his unprecedentedly long sentence to the 27 years he has already served is warranted.

"President Peres is a cautious and judicious person and his letter comes only after much deliberation," they wrote.

Peres’ letter, sent earlier this month, cited Pollard’s reportedly severe health situation in requesting that he be released from Butner Federal Correctional Complex in North Carolina, where he is serving a life sentence for spying for Israel. Peres has not received an official reply to his letter.

Obama announced last month that he would award Peres with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in June; a petition signed by more than 35,000 Israelis has called on Peres to use his influence with the White House to ensure that Pollard is released prior to the medal ceremony.

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