Historic Bi-partisan Congressional Group Urges President Obama to Commute Pollard’s Sentence


pollardCongressman Eliot Engel (D-NY-17) sent a letter to President Barack Obama asking for the commutation of Jonathan Pollard’s sentence to one of time served.  Mr. Pollard is serving his 27th year in prison, after having been convicted of spying on behalf of Israel.  The letter is co-written by Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) and signed by 42 Members of Congress.

“Mr. Pollard broke the law and deserved to be punished.  On that there is no debate.  However, he has paid his penalty and, due to failing health, should be allowed to live out his days with his family.  Mr. Pollard’s sentence was disproportionately severe.  He passed classified information to our ally, Israel; an offense which is usually punishable by a fraction of the time served by Mr. Pollard.  The time has come to close this chapter, commute Jonathan Pollard’s sentence to time served, and allow the Pollard family to heal together,” said Rep. Engel.

In their letter, the 42 members of Congress wrote, “A number of people convicted of spying for other countries, ranging from the former Soviet Union to South Korea, have been given lighter sentences than Mr. Pollard.  We would not expected that Mr. Pollard would be treated any better than anyone else who has committed similar acts, but we certainly do not believe he should be treated any worse.”

“As we are in the holiday season it would be a particularly appropriate time to heed the appeal of the many leaders from a wide variety of spheres of American life, in addition to the many members of Congress who have appealed for his release. This includes people who were involved in the case or others who were initially opposed to any act of clemency. They have now called for Pollard’s release.  We have visited Mr. Pollard and have heard his expressions of remorse for his actions, which he has delivered publicly. He has serious health challenges which continued incarceration will exacerbate. His further incarceration is indefensible,” said Richard Stone, Chairman, and Malcolm Hoenlein, Executive Vice Chairman/CEO, of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.

“The National Council of Young Israel has been active in the Pollard cause for close to 20 years, and we welcome all efforts to end this injustice. We welcome the efforts of Congressmen Engel and Smith, and their colleagues on the Hill, who join many appointed and elected officials, many who know well the true story of Jonathan Pollard, in calling for freedom Jonathan Pollard, who, unless freed soon, will spend  his 10,000th day in prison.  On behalf of justice and humanitarian concerns, we join in the call for his freedom,” said Rabbi Pesach Lerner, Executive Vice President, Emeritus, of the National Council of Young Israel.

“At this point, there is nothing to be gained from keeping Jonathan Pollard in prison any longer.  He has suffered long enough and has taken responsibility for his actions.   For him to continue to be incarcerated, when others who have been convicted of greater crimes and who have been found guilty of compromising our nation’s security have served less time, makes one wonder why he is still being held as a prisoner,” said Rabbi Stuart Weinblatt, Director of Israel Policy and Advocacy, Rabbinical Assembly 6.

“The Orthodox Union has long supported clemency for Jonathan Pollard on humanitarian grounds.  We thank Congressmen Smith and Engel and the many others who have joined in the letter for their leadership on this matter and their deep compassion,” said Rabbi Steven Weil, Executive Vice President of the Orthodox Union.

“President Obama ought to heed the numerous calls for justice from scores of Republican and Democrat members of Congress as well as those Senior US officials who are most familiar with the Pollard case and who served at the time of Pollard’s conviction. Millions of humanitarians worldwide – both Jew and Gentile alike, will greatly appreciate President Obama’s honorable gesture if he were to grant clemency.  President Obama should heed the words of his mentor, the great civil rights leader, Martin Luther King Jr. who stated eloquently, “The time is always right to do what is right,” said David Nyer, an activist on Jonathan Pollard’s case.

Current Co-signers:

  1. Eliot Engel (D-NY) (Ranking Member, Foreign Affairs)
  2. Christopher Smith (R-NJ)
  3. Robert Brady (D-PA) (Ranking Member, House Administration Committee)
  4. Brad Sherman (D-CA)
  5. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY)
  6. Edolphus Towns (D-NY) (former Chairman, Government Oversight and Reform Committee)
  7. Bennie Thompson (D-MS) (Ranking Member, Homeland Security Committee)
  8. Ted Deutch  (D-FL)
  9. Maurice Hinchey (D-NY)
  10. Henry Waxman (D-CA) (Ranking Member, Energy and Commerce Committee)
  11. Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-TX)
  12. Charles Rangel (D-NY)
  13. David Schweikert (R-AZ)
  14. Howard Berman (D-CA) (Former Chairman, Foreign Affairs Committee)
  15. Barney Frank (D-MA) (Former Chairman, Financial Services Committee)
  16. . Jim Himes (D-CT)
  17. .    Jan Schkowsky (D-IL) (Chief Deputy Whip)( House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, where she is ranking Democrat on the Oversight Subcommittee)
  18. .  Bill Pascrell (D-NJ)
  19. .  Carolyn Maloney (D-NY)
  20. .  Niki Tsongas (D-MA)
  21. .  John Olver (D-MA)
  22. .  Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC)
  23. . Albio Sires (D-NJ)
  24. .  Paul Gosar (R-AZ)
  25. .  Bob Turner (R-NY)
  26. .  Raul M. Grijalva (D-AZ)
  27. Nita Lowey (D-NY)
  28. Shelley Berkley (D-NV)
  29. Gregory Meeks (D-NY)
  30. Steven R. Rothman (D-NJ)
  31. Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY)
  32. Leonard Lance (R-NJ)
  33. Steven Israel (D-NY) (Assistant Democratic Whip) (House Democratic Study Group on National Security Policy (Co-chair) House Democratic Caucus Task Force On Defense and the Military (Chair) (Obama- Re-election)
  34. Frederica Wilson (D-FL)
  35. Terri Sewell (D-AL)
  36. Jim McGovern (D-MA)( McGovern is a Minority Whip; is the second-ranking member on the powerful House Rules Committee)
  37. Frank Pallone (D-NJ)
  38. Hansen Clarke (D-MI)
  39. Ron Barber (D-AZ)
  1. Bobby Scott (D-NC)
  2. Donald Young (R-AK) (2nd ranking Republican member in House)
  3. Eni Faleomaevaga (D-American Samoa)

{Andy Heller-Matzav.com Newscenter}


  1. I would like to express my respect to all those men and women who stand up for truth and justice and the principles that our country is built on.

  2. Have Yehonasan ben Malka in mind next time you say the words “Matir Assurim”, and keep on davening for him and others falsely or disproportionately imprisoned.