An open letter to President Obama

I write with some urgency to draw to your attention the request for clemency which my husband, Jonathan Pollard filed more than two years ago.

Jonathan Pollard red, white and blue (photo credit: Courtesy)
Jonathan Pollard red, white and blue
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Dear President Obama,
Congratulations upon your election to a second term as president of the mightiest nation in the world, the United States of America. May your second term in office be a blessing to America, to its allies and to the world.
I write with some urgency to draw to your attention the request for clemency which my husband, Jonathan Pollard, filed more than two years ago during your first term in office.
In the interim, Jonathan’s health has continued to deteriorate while calls for his release by senior American officials continue to mount.
I write in the sincere hope of urging you to respond favorably and speedily to Jonathan’s petition and to all of the official appeals for his immediate release.
Traditionally, some time next week, shortly before November 22, you will be pardoning this year’s American National Thanksgiving turkey, thereby sparing its life.
As the president of the United States, your granting clemency to a lowly barnyard bird demonstrates to the world the great respect that the American people have for the values of justice, compassion and mercy. It is in this light that I write to bring to your personal awareness once again, the urgent plight of my husband, Jonathan Pollard.
On November 21, 2012 – the day before Thanksgiving – Jonathan begins his 28th year of a life sentence with no end in sight. I urge and implore you, Mr. President, to include Jonathan in the list of holiday clemencies that are expected to be announced by the White House shortly, enabling those who are set free to get home in time for the holidays.
Mr. President, G-d has seen fit to elevate you for yet another term to the position of the head of the most powerful nation in the world, the president of the United States of America, and to invest in you powers of clemency second only to His own.
Clearly these gifts were bestowed upon you as a man worthy and capable of fulfilling the biblical injunction which describes what G-d requires of man, namely: “to do justice and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your G-d.” (Micha 6:8) Over the past two years, since Jonathan submitted his clemency petition to you on October 15, 2010, there has been a burgeoning public awareness of the injustice of his sentence. Many senior American officials as well as high-ranking legal officials and elected representatives have appealed to you, both publicly and privately, to release Jonathan.
In their words, his release is a matter of simple justice because “his sentence is grossly disproportionate.” And it is appropriate on humanitarian grounds because his health is failing after more than a quarter of a century of affliction in American prisons.
Those who know the case best have been very clear in their publicly stated opinions and in their letters to you, indicating that keeping Jonathan in prison any longer is a travesty of justice. These include, among many others: former secretary of state George Shultz, former secretary of state Henry Kissinger, former White House legal counsel Bernard Nussbaum, former attorney-general Michael Mukasey, former deputy attorney-general Phillip Heymann, former assistant secretary of defense Lawrence Korb and former CIA director James Woolsey.
As well, in a historic display of bipartisanship, a group of 18 prominent former United States senators wrote to you, Mr. President, and asked that you commute Jonathan’s sentence to time served.
A number of the signatories served on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, including senators Dennis DeConcini (D-Arizona), Alan Simpson (R-Wyoming), the late Arlen Specter (R-Pennsylvania), Birch Bayh (D-Indiana), Connie Mack (R-Florida) and David Durenberger (RMinnesota).
All of these individuals had access to the classified portions of Jonathan’s file, enabling them to know the full scope of the case.
This letter, which marks the first time that a group of senators has united to request clemency for my husband, is an indicator of the solid support for Jonathan’s release as a matter of justice. Some of the senators who signed the bipartisan petition opposed Jonathan’s release in the past but now support an immediate commutation of his sentence to time served.
Another bipartisan congressional appeal to you, jointly sponsored by Reps. Chris Smith and Eliot Engel, is being circulated and has already acquired dozens of signatures in support of my husband’s release.
Internationally, Jonathan’s release is supported by a number of prominent organizations and individuals, including the European Parliament, the European Jewish Congress and the African Redeemed Church of Christ, which has more than 14,000 branches in 110 countries and has more than five million members in Africa alone.
My husband, Jonathan Pollard, has now served more than six to eight times the usual sentence for the offense he committed. After enduring 27 years of the harshest afflictions in prison, including seven years in solitary confinement, it is time to release him, now, while he is still alive – before it is too late.
As you are aware, Jonathan has repeatedly expressed remorse, including his most recent statements in a letter hand-delivered to you by President Shimon Peres. The State of Israel has also expressed remorse, promising that there will never again be a repeat of this offense.
Mr. President, if a lowly turkey is deserving of your compassion and merits the dispensation of justice by your own hand, how much more so does a man who has more than paid the price for the offense he committed and is now, after 27 years in prison, in danger of losing his life.
We are taught, “From Heaven did the Almighty look down upon the earth, to hear the groaning of the prisoner, to liberate those who are doomed to die.” (Psalms 102:20-21) While those who hold the reins of power are urged: “Let the groaning of the prisoner come before you; According to the greatness of your power, set free those who are condemned to die.” (Psalms 79:11)
Mr. President, I implore you, set my husband free by commuting his sentence to the 27 years he has already served, and send him home to me in the Holy City of Jerusalem for the Holiday of Light which fast approaches – and G-d will surely bless!
Respectfully, Esther Pollard
Mrs. Jonathan Pollard