April 12: Medals and freedom

US President Barack Obama has once again demonstrated that his quality of mercy is very restrained.

Medals and freedom
Sir, – US President Barack Obama has once again demonstrated that his quality of mercy is very restrained (“Peres downplays White House statement on Jonathan Pollard,” April 11).
There is absolutely no valid reason for keeping Pollard in prison except to use him as a political pawn. He has been ill for some time, in the hospital under emergency conditions, and has been in prison for 27 years. Even the courts in Scotland released the Lockerbie mass murderer, citing reasons of compassion.
Does Obama want to leave a legacy of inhumanity? That is how people will remember him.
They will remember his lack of compassion and caring, and will only think that everything he tried to do was to ruthlessly foster his agenda and not be a symbol of what America is really all about.
Sir, – Despite the flurry of wishful thinking emanating from the office of President Shimon Peres to the effect that Barack Obama is the sole official invested with the power to commute Jonathan Pollard’s life sentence and that any statement from another source is irrelevant, the silence that followed all previous official Israeli appeals to the White House continues.
Much like Pharaoh of old, Obama has chosen to harden his heart, the great show of the White House Seder and the president’s pontifications about celebrating liberty notwithstanding.
It behooves Peres, our own president, to stand erect and tell Obama that so long as he refuses to commute Pollard’s inhumane and unprecedented sentence, he cannot in good conscience accept the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the esteemed American award that Obama seeks to confer upon him.
Sir, – Jonathan Pollard should be released now for time served. I strongly suggest that the president of Israel refuse to accept President Obama’s “prize,” since under the present circumstances accepting it would be a negation of the State of Israel’s values and principles.
Sir, – After President Shimon Peres’s appeal for the release of Jonathan Pollard and in light of President Obama’s refusal, it is highly inappropriate for Peres to accept a medal from Obama. Peres should make it very clear to Obama that under no circumstances is he prepared to receive a “freedom” medal from the president of the United Stares as long at Jonathan Pollard is not free.
Misleading article
Sir, – “Recalling the Jenin ‘massacre’ libel” (Comment & Features, April 9) is misleading and filled with false claims.
The old canard that Human Rights Watch (HRW) contributed to the false Jenin “massacre” story was belied by The Jerusalem Post itself on April 28, 2002, with the telling headline: “Human Rights Watch: No evidence of massacre in Jenin.” The myth that it was “deeply involved” in the NGO condemnation of Israel at the 2001 Durban Conference was, again, more accurately reported by you on September 2, 2001, when you wrote that representatives of several rights groups, including HRW, “said that although they are not in agreement with Israeli governmental policies, ‘they will not accept, and their constituents will not accept, a document that calls Israel genocidal, and equates Zionism with racism.’” Last month alone, HRW’s work on the Middle East also covered Lebanon, Iran, Egypt, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Syria and Tunisia. We hold Israel to the same standards as other countries, and in armed conflicts criticize all parties, including armed groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah. Readers can check for themselves at www.hrw.org.
IAIN LEVINE New York The writer is a deputy executive director of Human Rights Watch