Sharansky, Barkat Challenge Shapiro Over Pollard

YERUSHALAYIM -

Jewish Agency chairman Natan Sharansky and Yerushalayim Mayor Nir Barkat called for the immediate release of imprisoned Israeli agent Jonathan Pollard, after U.S. Ambassador Dan Shapiro had said that it was not likely President Barack Obama would intervene, The Jerusalem Post reported on Wednesday.

“Twenty-nine years is far too much,” Sharansky said of Pollard, who began serving the twenty-ninth year of his life sentence Tuesday. “He must be released!”

Barkat called on delegates to the General Assembly of the Jewish Federations of North America meeting in Yerushalayim and world Jewry to unite on the Pollard issue.

“On the issue of unity, there is one person I want to mention who is missing here today,” he said. “He is an honorary citizen of Yerushalayim. He should be here today. His wife Esther is here with us today. The person who is sorely missing is Jonathan Pollard.” The mention of Pollard’s name triggered applause from the gathering.

When Shapiro was asked about presidential clemency for Pollard on Monday, he said: “Unusual circumstances are required for President Obama to get involved in the matter,” and that “there is no reason to expect that the [Pollard] matter will be handled differently.”

Esther Pollard said she was profoundly disappointed and greatly surprised by Shapiro’s comment.

“The ‘unusual circumstances’ are so compelling that people like Natan Sharansky, along with so many leading former American government officials, and world-class notables have repeatedly, personally, and publicly appealed to President Obama to release Jonathan,” she said.

“Please, go back to America and take this message with you. Tell your president, Israel wants Jonathan Pollard home now!”

Rabbi Pesach Lerner, executive VP emeritus of the National Council of Young Israel, an official delegate at the GA and a close associate of the Pollards, pointed out that the ambassador’s remarks stand in stark contrast to a Post editorial that appeared last Sunday that enumerated the irregularities in the Pollard case, including: “a grossly disproportionate sentence; a broken plea agreement; the use of secret evidence; a false charge of treason; ineffective assistance of counsel; ex parte communication between prosecutors and judge; a lack of due process; and a sentencing procedure infected by false allegations and lies.”

Lerner said, “Any one of these reasons would be sufficient grounds for presidential intervention; how much more so, the whole list!”`