Renewed Push for Pollard by Agudath Israel of America


pollardIn keeping with its history of advocacy and lobbying on behalf of the long suffering Jonathon Pollard, Rabbi Chaim Dovid Zwiebel executive Vice President of Agudath Israel of America wrote a lengthy letter to President Barack Obama yesterday asking the President of the United States to mercifully grant Pollard, Clemency.

Zwiebel writes “I wish to renew our longstanding humanitarian plea that Jonathan Pollard, who has already served 25 years of his life sentence, be granted executive clemency. We have made this plea to several presidents over the years – but with each passing year that Mr. Pollard languishes in prison, the urgency of the plea is compounded.

Zwiebel writes,” We acknowledge, as we always have, that Pollard’s crime was extremely serious. But we maintain, also as we always have, that the exceptional severity of his sentence is troubling. His espionage took place during a time of peace. The country for which he was charged with spying, Israel, was and is a staunch ally of the United States. He received his sentence after a plea bargain, not a trial. Each of these factors, on its own,should have softened the harshness of his sentence; taken collectively, they render his sentence of life in prison virtually incomprehensible.”

Rabbi Zwiebel’s letter to the President is one in a long line of behind the scenes advocacy by the expert lawyer and renowned constitutional expert, on Pollard’s behalf.

In 1991, Rabbi Moshe Sherer Z’L legendary Aguda President, invited Jonathon Pollard’s parents, Dr. Morris and Molly Pollard to make a personal appeal to the Nesius of Agudath Israel on behalf of their son. Later than year,Agudath Israel was one of three organization to sign on an amicus curiae brief in support of Jonathan Pollard’s 1991 petition to remove his guilty plea. Rabbi David Zwiebel was then one of the principal draftsmen of that brief.

After the DC Circuit Court of Appeals denied that petition by a 2-1 vote, Pollard petitioned President George H.W. Bush for a commutation of sentence.

Rabbi Moshe Sherer twice wrote President Bush in support of Pollard petition and personally lobbied the President in the closing days of his term.

Rabbi Sherer and Rabbi Zwiebel then tried to persuade President Bill Clinton to review the Pollard case with the compelling argument “the American people had a right to know why Pollard had only been charged with having passed information to ‘the advantage of a foreign nation’ and not on the alternative statutory ground of ‘to the injury of the Unites States’. Rabbi Zwiebel’s article in Middle East Quarterly of June 1997 argued at length ” that it was only after the government had secured Pollard’s guilty plea that it began speaking in terms of the harm Pollard caused to the United States. Pollard’s indictment had charged
him under the federal law that makes it a crime to deliver defense information “to the advantage of a foreign nation” – conspicuously avoiding charging him under the parallel law that makes it a crime to deliver such information “to the injury of the United States.”

The Zwiebel letter to Obama comes on the heels of a recent letter signed by 38 Democratic members of Congress asking the President to grant clemency to Pollard.

Zwiebel invokes that recent Congressional letter in his letter, writing: “indeed, the 25 years Pollard has already served – let alone the life sentence imposed upon him – is entirely out of line with sentences served by others convicted of spying for friendly governments. As Representative Barney Frank and 38 of his colleagues wrote to you last month:

“We believe that there has been a great disparity from the standpoint of justice between the amount of time Mr. Pollard has served and the time that has been served – or not served at all – by many others who were found guilty of similar activity on behalf of nations that, like Israel, are not adversarial to us. It is indisputable in our view that the nearly twenty-five years that Mr. Pollard has served stands as a sufficient time from the standpoint of either punishment or deterrence.”

Zwiebel asks of the President, “We respectfully add our voice to those of Representative Frank and his colleagues in asking you to recognize that Jonathan Pollard has more than adequately repaid his debt to society through the quarter-century he has already spent in federal prison. The length of his incarceration, considering the nature of his crime and the fact that he entered into a
plea bargain, is itself a compelling justification for the humanitarian exercise of your executive clemency authority.”
Zwieble concludes his powerful letter with a simple plea.

“By no means does Agudath Israel of America condone what Pollard did. He is no hero. But he committed his crime more than a quarter-of-a-century ago. He has expressed remorse for his actions. He has languished in prison for 25 years. He is in declining health. He is a broken man. We respectfully echo the words of former CIA director James Woolsey: “He’s served long

{Noam Newscenter}


  1. Powerful. Thank you Rav Chaim Dovid for your eloquence and efforts.
    The Pollard saga has dragged long enough. Lets hope this president has the guts to make it happen. I’m not convinced he does.

  2. I’m with clueless.
    let’s indeed hope the President has the guts to do the right thing – even if there are forces behind the scene that want to continue this injustice.

  3. Let’s be perfectly honest here- the one responsible for keeping the Pollard issue on the front burner has been Rabbi Pesach Lerner of the National Council of Young Israel

  4. Rabbi Lerner is most certainly a real hero on this matter.I’m sure he is the first to welcome this important letter to the cause. He is an unselfish leader who works in tandem with other selfless leaders like rabbi zweibel.

  5. #6 – I’ve davened to Hashem and made many phone calls to the White House on his behalf. I’m unsure as to the source of your snide remark; my point is that the Agudah and the like has thrown far greater resources into defending Rubashkin, etc. The day that all those that need “matir asurim” are given equal treatment and focus (that includes Gilad Shalit)by the those who act “al pi da’as torah,” will by my day of vindication.