Urging Israel’s president to decline Medal of Freedom from Obama unless president grants clemency for spy.
Efforts are underway in Israel to convince Israeli President Shimon Peres to decline the Presidential Medal of Freedom Award in June unless President Barack Obama changes his mind and grants clemency to Jonathan Pollard more than 26 years after he was convicted of spying for Israel.
Peres on April 9 sent Obama a personal request asking that he release Pollard on humanitarian grounds. But on Tuesday, Matt Lehrich, a White House spokesman, said in an e-mail to The Jewish Week: “The administration’s position has not changed.”
The White House on Monday announced that the U.S. rejected a request by Israeli President Shimon Peres to pardon Jonathan Pollard, who is serving his 27th year of a life sentence after being convicted of spying for Israel.
“Our position has not changed in this case,” National Security Council Spokesperson Tommy Vietor said.
Pollard was hospitalized April 6 in North Carolina. He complained of sharp pain and was rushed to a nearby hospital after prison medical officials were unable to ease his discomfort.
Vice President Joseph Biden met with several Jewish American leaders to discuss the case of convicted spy for Israel Jonathan Pollard.
During Monday evening's meeting, Biden reportedly listened to the seven American Jewish leaders, who made a case for the severity of the sentence and the support of U.S. political leaders for clemency, Ynet reported. The newspaper did not name the participants.
Jewish leaders meet Biden in Thanksgiving week appeal.
Ron Kampeas JTA
Washington — Four drug dealers, a trafficker in stolen goods, a gambler and a turkey made President Barack Obama’s Thanksgiving freedom list, but Israel’s best-known spy did not.
That doesn’t mean advocates of releasing Jonathan Pollard are giving up hope. Seven Jewish leaders who met Monday with Vice President Joe Biden said they were “encouraged” after more than an hour of back and forth.
UPDATE: Veep Agrees to Meet Jewish Leaders on Pollard
UPDATE 7:15 PM. WEDNESDAY OCT. 5
Vice President Joe Biden agreed Wednesday to meet a "small group" of Jewish leaders in the near future to discuss his opposition to clemency for Jonathan Pollard.
Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, said he approach Biden at a Rosh HaShanah reception for Jewish leaders and told him of the Jewish community's "deep concern" about his position.
After meeting with Jonathan Pollard at a North Carolina prison, Assemblyman Dov Hikind says the former Navy analyst convicted of spying for Israel 22 years ago is contrite about his crimes and still hopeful that he’ll be freed.
“One of the things he said was that he has never asked for a pardon because he knew what he did was wrong,” said Hikind. “He is asking for a commutation of his [life] sentence.”
Jonathan Pollard was so convinced Friday that he was about to be released from prison that he started packing his bags. His tallit and tefillin, too.
“I heard about it from [my wife] Esther when I called her at 7 in the morning,” said Pollard, referring to news reports that he would be set free as part of the peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority signed on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.
Convicted Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard said he believes there is “not a snow ball’s chance in hell” President Bill Clinton will free him unless the three major Jewish defense organizations openly support his release. “The president doesn’t give a damn about the Jewish community’s opinion, except for the American Jewish Committee, the American Jewish Congress and the Anti-Defamation League,” Pollard said this week in a phone call from the federal prison in North Carolina.