Letters: Plea to a president

Not since the Dreyfus Affair in 1894 has the Jewish community been so embroiled in a cause célèbre as the Pollard Affair.

Letters 370 (photo credit: REUTERS)
Letters 370
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Plea to a president
Sir, – Not since the Dreyfus Affair in 1894 has the Jewish community been so embroiled in a cause célèbre as the Pollard Affair.
On March 4, 1987, Jonathan Pollard, a U.S. civilian naval intelligence analyst, was sentenced for passing classified information to Israel. He accepted a plea bargain to forgo trial by jury in return for a lenient sentence, but last-minute testimony by the Justice Department persuaded the judge to mete out the harshest penalty allowed by law, life imprisonment without parole, in violation of the plea bargain.
No loyal American citizen can deny that Pollard’s actions were foolish and ill-advised, and that he deserved punishment. What is shocking, though, is the draconian nature of the sentence.
Other cases of individuals convicted of spying for a friendly nation resulted in far lighter sentences.
Pollard has already served 27 years in solitary confinement. He admitted his guilt and expressed remorse. By all accounts, his mental and physical conditions have seriously deteriorated.
Justice not tempered by mercy is intolerable. Many of the officials who prosecuted the case now support Pollard’s early release. How fitting it would be for his sentence to be commuted prior to Passover, the holiday of freedom.
President Obama, in the name of mercy and as a good will gesture to Israel and world Jewry, I implore you to commute Jonathan Pollard’s sentence to time served.ROBERT DUBLIN Jerusalem
Sir, – It is customary for heads of state to exchange gifts during one’s visit to another. The best gift President Obama could bring with him is Jonathan Pollard.
Sir, – Perhaps US President Barack Obama would better achieve his goal “to establish a direct rapport” with the people (“Hoenlein: Obama will win over the Israeli public,” March 18 ) if he had been advised to choose a better time for his visit.
Hoenlein, as an observant Jew, should have told Obama that if he wanted to score points with the people, interfering with traffic patterns and shopping on the eve of a major holiday was not the way to do it.
Sir, – As a resident of the Jerusalem neighborhood of Rehavia, I am appalled at the quantity of inferior paint being slapped onto the edges of the roads in our area in order to impress the president of the United States. Taxpayer’s money is being spent on a paint job the president will not even notice behind the dark glass windows of his armor-plated limo.
Flower beds are being replanted in the blink of an eye, and many of the eyesores we residents put up with daily are being speedily tidied in Obama’s honor. No doubt the paint and flowers will fade in no time – much as the goodwill gestures and empty words will fade into thin air.
No amount of paint or flowers can cover the cracks that lie underneath this superficiality. All the little inconveniences will resurface until the next bigwig sweeps into town.
JUDITH COHEN Jerusalem Great loss
Sir, – The unexpected passing of Dr. Marina Solodkin (“Politicians eulogize former MK Solodkin,” March 18) represents a great loss for the State of Israel.
Dr. Solodkin was a gifted individual, both intellectually and spiritually. She was best known for her unwavering struggle on behalf of the weakest sectors of the population.
She was also very good when it came to recognizing goodness, and as such worked closely with the International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation (IRWF) in an effort to preserve and divulge the courageous legacies of Wallenberg and others like him. She was one of the driving forces behind the motion to declare August 4, Wallenberg’s birthday, an official memorial day.
She always stood by our common goal, serving as an endless source of inspiration. The leadership and members of the IRWF will miss her dearly.
The writer is executive director of the Israeli representation of the IRWF
Slight inconsistency
Sir, – In his interview (“Irish minister to ‘Post’: Ireland not hostile, Israel should distinguish between NGOs and the gov’t,” March 17), Minister of Justice, Equality and Defense Alan Shatter is right about the obsessive focus of non-governmental organizations on Israel. Left unmentioned, though, is his government’s direct and indirect funding of Israeli, Palestinian, Irish and international NGOs that lead the effort to delegitimize Israel.
Irish Aid, the official governmental overseas assistance agency, directly funds highly politicized Palestinian and Israeli NGOs. Some are active in boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaigns, anti-Israel campus activities and “lawfare” against Israeli officials. Ireland also funds Trócaire, which serves as a main conduit of Irish government funding for radical NGOs, some of which support a “right of return,” reject the twostate solution and inflame the conflict. Trócaire has conducted campaigns calling on the EU to remove all of Israel’s trade privileges and block it from membership in the OECD. Gary Walsh, its OPT/Israel program officer, is a former national coordinator for the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign.
Shatter’s declarations of Ireland’s friendship are welcome.
But his government’s funding of obsessively anti-Israel NGOs that perpetuate conflict rather than peace is inconsistent with such declarations.YITZHAK SANTIS Jerusalem
The writer is chief programs officer for NGO Monitor
Israeli lessons
Sir, – Daniel K. Eisenbud (“The lesson of Israel’s existentialism,” Eisenbud’s Odyssey, March 17) well expresses some of the benefits of life in Israel, where caring for his fellow Jews is a natural way of life, as opposed to the rat race that was his former life.
But he does a disservice in his description of Israel as a war zone. I’m sure for some this might be attractive (some thrive on the adrenalin), but it hardly describes the reality for most.
Life sometimes hands us unwelcome surprises – including untimely deaths. The likelihood of terror attacks in Arab-surrounded settlements is higher than in the cities where most Israelis live, and the bombardment of southern towns even in “good” times is something no one should have to bear. But this doesn’t typify life in Israel.
Living with the possibility of one’s own imminent death or that of a loved one is part of life everywhere, and one should always live each day as if it might be his last. Nevertheless, even here in Israel we make plans and have every expectation of seeing them executed.
Since aliya from North America is at a low, it’s important to convey that most Israelis feel just as safe as Americans. In fact, knowing that we have performed the all-important mitzva of living in this holy land lends a feeling of quiet that the rat race of America does not provide.SHARON LINDENBAUM Rehovot
Sir, – As an American living here for almost 30 years, and with a sister, secretary of Kibbutz Tzova, who died two and a half years ago, Daniel K. Eisenbud’s column was brilliant and powerful.
I am Sabbath-observant and modern-Orthodox, with tolerance for all Jews. However, without going into personal detail, Israel’s haredim are a subculture within a culture.
Eisenbud’s ability to write so clearly could help Israelis try to understand the haredim mindset without building hatred. His column was superbly written.NATHAN SOLOMON Jerusalem