Did Chicago's mayor stop Jonathan Pollard's prison release?

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, the son of an Israeli, took credit for convincing President Bill Clinton not to release from prison Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard.

March 15, 2019 06:07
1 minute read.
Rahm Emanuel announces his candidacy for Mayor

Rahm Emanuel thumbs up 311. (photo credit: AP Photo/Paul Beaty, File)


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Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, the son of an Israeli, took credit for convincing President Bill Clinton not to release from prison Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard.

In an article published by the Atlantic, Emanuel writes about the role he played in Israeli-Palestinian peace talks 21 years ago. 
"On my very first day after leaving Bill Clinton’s administration as his senior adviser in October 1998, I received a call at 5 a.m. from the president,” Emanuel recalled. “He was at the Wye Plantation in Maryland, where he was hosting a summit meeting between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. 

“The president was frantic that the summit would collapse if he didn’t release Jonathan Pollard, a U.S. intelligence analyst who had delivered sensitive state secrets to Israel, as Benjamin Netanyahu was demanding.”

Emanuel said that the then president was receiving conflicting advice from his political advisors - they thought it was a small price to pay for a successful agreement - and his national-security team. The latter strongly opposed Pollard's release because of the seriousness of his breach.

“I told Clinton not to give in on Pollard’s release, believing that Netanyahu needed the agreement more than he did,” wrote Emanuel. “The president followed that advice, and Netanyahu ultimately signed the Wye River Memorandum.”

Emanuel used this example as part of his defense of American Jews’ loyalty to their country. The piece was written in reaction to antisemitic tweets made by Congressman Ilhan Omar, who accused Jews of dual loyalty.

Pollard completed 30 years of a life sentence on November 20, 2015 and was released to house arrest. He is not allowed to leave the United States as part of his parole conditions.

Netanyahu has asked President Donald Trump and other American officials to allow Pollard to immigrate to Israel, but his efforts have not yet been successful.

Emanuel has been the mayor of Chicago since 2011.

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