Divine providence, acting through the American people, has
appointed you to the most exalted office in the world: President of the United
States. You stand at the head of the most powerful nation in the world whose
strength is measured not only by its political, economic and military might, but
also by its spiritual power as the flag bearer of liberty and freedom.
the eastern port of entry to the United States stands the Statue of Liberty,
which symbolizes for all who enter her gates the longed-for national calling
card, the yearning for freedom of all mankind.
In the chronicles of
history, the brilliant personalities of George Washington, Abraham Lincoln and
the visionary Martin Luther King, Jr. stand out. Their character and
their fight for independence, liberty and equality light the way for your feet
in forging another link in this illustrious chain.
My dear President, it
is 28 years (nearly 10,000 days) that Jonathan Pollard has been incarcerated in
an American prison. He was sentenced for a serious offense, passing classified
information to a foreign country, albeit a friendly nation, the State of
Those who were responsible for this affair have admitted their
guilt and expressed honest and deep remorse for this serious breach, even if it
were done with the intention of protecting the security of
Despite the admissions and the remorse, Jonathan continues to
remain in jail for a period of time unparalleled in its harshness – and for
which there has been no precedent in American history. In addition to the fact
that the man is serving a disproportionately severe sentence, it is well known
that his health is failing and his life expectancy is diminishing.
book of Samuel I in the Bible, Chapter 14, the People of Israel cry out: “Shall
Jonathan die?” This outcry which refers to Jonathan, the son of King Saul,
screams from the chambers of my own heart with regard to Jonathan Pollard, that
he should merit to leave prison alive, and perhaps even be blessed with the most
basic right which has been denied him up until now, fatherhood.
President, after the requests of the president of our country, Shimon Peres, and
our prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu, and thousands of Israelis – as well as
those of exalted American leaders such as secretaries of state, Henry Kissinger
and George Shultz – I too add my voice to the many who are calling on you to
hear and to respond positively to commute the sentence of Jonathan Pollard, who
seeks only to live out the remainder of his life with his wife Esther in the
State of Israel, which has granted him citizenship.
Your taking this
action, Mr. President, shall be engraved upon the hearts of freedom-seekers
throughout the world as a gesture worthy of being included in the chronicles of
With blessing, Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau
The writer is chief rabbi
of Tel Aviv- Jaffa, chairman of the Yad Vashem council and a former chief rabbi