March 1: Freeing Pollard

Our government should simply tell Obama that any further demand for “conciliatory gestures” to the Palestinians depends on one such gesture by him to Israel, namely the release of Pollard.

Letters 370 (photo credit: REUTERS/Handout )
Letters 370
(photo credit: REUTERS/Handout )
Freeing Pollard
Sir, – So once again President Shimon Peres is going to speak to US President Barack Obama and ask for Jonathan Pollard’s release on humanitarian grounds (“Peres to discuss Pollard with Obama during visit,” February 27).
As previous talks did not help even when Obama was courting the Jewish vote, maybe the time for action has come. Our government should simply tell Obama that any further demand for “conciliatory gestures” to the Palestinians depends on one such gesture by him to Israel, namely the release of Pollard.
After all, as Menachem Begin once said, “We are not a banana republic.”
Sir, – It seems quite probable that in the course of his visit to Israel President Obama will call on it to make significant gestures to the Palestinians by releasing prisoners. I sincerely hope and pray that in return Obama will make a gesture to Israel for the sake of justice and humanity, and agree to release the suffering Jonathan Pollard – or even surprise and delight us by bringing him to with him to Israel.
One could almost build a triple-P equation that says: Palestinians plus Pollard equals hope for Peace.
Sir, – Former chief rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau’s letter to President Obama (“ Shall Jonathan die?’” Comment & Features, February 25) unequivocally highlights Obama’s lack of moral and ethical fortitude. Is this what US Democrats stand for – to make an example of a Jew by letting him languish for 10,000 days in a US prison when, according to the advocacy group Justice for Jonathan Pollard, some who committed similar actions, but for enemies of the US, spent no more that 1,200 days in prison? In his recent inaugural address Obama stated: “We, the people, still believe that every citizen deserves a basic measure of security and dignity.” He apparently was excluding Pollard.
Obama went on: “We, the people, declare today that the most evident of truths – that all of us are created equal – is the star that guides us still; just as it guided our forebears through Seneca Falls, and Selma, and Stonewall; just as it guided all those men and women, sung and unsung, who left footprints along this great mall, to hear a preacher say that we cannot walk alone; to hear a king proclaim that our individual freedom is inextricably bound to the freedom of every soul on Earth.” But obviously not Pollard! It must be questioned why the pagan of virtue in the Western world callously refuses to provide a straight answer to the multitude of requests pleading for Pollard’s release. It is blatantly obvious that we are expected to grovel, lose our pride and dignity before we are entitled to a straight answer.
Let it not be forgotten by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu that at Wye in 1998, some 15 years ago, he signed an agreement at the behest of a false promise made by a US president to review Pollard’s case. We should have learned from experience.
Bringing unity
Sir, – I write in reference to “El Al launches initiative to write Torah scroll” (Business & Finance, February 27).
I applaud the national airline for this endeavor, especially considering that one of its motivators is bringing people together via the writing of this scroll. There is nothing more precious than the word of God to act as a vehicle to bring unity among our fellow Jews.
One slight correction, though. While the article states that it is considered an “honor” to write a letter in the Torah, the truth is that there is actually a commandment (mitzva) to write one, as seen in Devarim 31:19.
I encourage all those who are able to do so to participate in this great mitzva and help bring more unity among our people by this act.ZE’EV M. SHANDALOV Ma’aleh Adumim The writer is a rabbi