If Barack Obama wants to be reelected and if he “wishes to dictate Israeli policy,” he should release Jonathan Pollard, Israel’s chief Ashkenazi rabbi, Yona Metzger, told his congregants.
Arye Eldad, a Knesset member from the far right National Union party, warned the President to "bring about Pollard's release by November" if he "realizes that he needs American Jewish votes or money." Otherwise, the Jewish people should "enlist all their powers to prevent his reelection." He accused the President of "cruelty, inflexibility and … maliciousness" for not freeing Pollard. Yep, that's how to win friends and influence presidents.
They are only the latest to offer such gratuitous and meaningless advice to successive American presidents. The pressure could be doing more harm than good to their cause. They seem unaware that insulting and demonizing the only person with the power to release Pollard is not the best way to achieve their goal.
You can bet that if Pollard were that important to Jewish voters, Mitt Romney would already have called for his release or promised to do it himself, but he didn't. In fact, he turned down a request from Sheldon Adelson, his biggest backer and self-proclaimed richest Jew in the world.
Romney reportedly told Adelson, who has pledge $100 million to elect the Republican nominee, that he would have to wait until he is president and has a chance to review all the relevant intelligence material before making any decision. He also is said to have turned down Adelson's request to announce he'd move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem as soon as he's sworn in.
Face it, Pollard isn’t that important to most American Jews and less so to the rest of the population; they see him not as an Israeli patriot but as a traitor who sold out his country, and instead of showing remorse has tried to justify his betrayal on grounds that he was helping Israel because the United States would not provide it the intelligence he decided it should have.
And those who do care are mostly on the right and have been relentlessly attacking Obama (as well as several of his predecessors) for this and sundry other offenses and are unlikely to change their minds even Barack Obama personally flew their hero to Israel on Air Force One.
President Obama may some day decide Pollard should be released early by commuting his sentence, though not pardoned; if he does it won't not be for any political gain because there is none to be had.
President Obama was actually considering clemency last year, Vice President Joe Biden told a group of rabbis, "but I told him, 'Over my dead body are we going to let him out before his time.' If it were up to me, he would stay in jail for life," the New York Times reported.
A story that circulated in Washington after the 1992 election told of some wealthy Jewish backers of outgoing President George H. W. Bush asking him to release Pollard before leaving office. Bush reportedly told them, "Let Clinton do it, the Jews voted for him."
The Jewish Week feels comments create a valuable conversation and wants to feature your thoughts on our website. To make everyone feel welcome, we won't publish comments that are profane, irrelevant, promotional or make personal attacks.