-Staff Writer-

Rabbi tells Obama: ‘Free Jonathan Pollard or Else!’

Jonathan Pollard

(FinalCall.com) – Yonah Metzger, Israel’s chief Ashkenazi rabbi, has a message for President Barack Obama: Free Jonathan Pollard or don’t expect American Jews to back your presidential campaign.

Rabbi Metzger, said during a pre-Passover sermon in Jerusalem that President Obama should prove he is a friend of Israel and “immediately free Jonathan Pollard before applying to advance diplomatic initiatives.”


“Before President Obama forces on us policies [concerning the Palestinian Authority], he should prove his mutual friendliness with the People of Israel by freeing Pollard.”

For the last 25 years Jonathan Pollard, a former civilian Navy analyst, has sat in a North Carolina jail cell convicted of one count of passing intelligence secrets to Israel, America’s best ally in the Middle East.

“I’m not making a prophecy, but rather echoing the frustrations of numerous American Jews who voted for him and are disappointed by his lackadaisical approach to the numerous appeals for Pollard’s release,” Rabbi Metzger said, according to Israel Radio.

The pressure on President Obama to grant clemency to Jonathan Pollard includes a letter from Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sent last January and a growing campaign of politicians and citizens around the country. Israeli President Shimon Peres recently handed President Obama a letter dated April 22 directly from Mr. Pollard pleading for his release.

Should President Obama be concerned?

“If we accept the fact that the Israeli lobby has extraordinary power in this country, then of course he has to be concerned about that because his popularity depends so much on how people perceive him and thus far he hasn’t alienated the lobby,” said former Ambassador Edward Peck, who also was director of the White House Task Force on terrorism under the Reagan administration.

“The pro Israeli lobby has one huge advantage. It has no opposition. They have succeeded in silencing the opposition for the most part. So when the lobby’s name is mentioned no one speaks,” said Amb. Peck.

After Israel, the U.S. is home to the largest Jewish community in the world with significant populations in New York City, Miami and Los Angeles. This community is very politically involved.

“Jews have devoted themselves to politics with almost religious fervor,” writes Mitchell Bard, executive director for the American Israeli Cooperative Enterprise and a foreign policy analyst who adds that Jews have the highest percentage of voter turnout of any ethnic group. While 2—2.5 percent of the United States population is Jewish, 94 percent live in 13 key electoral college states, which combined have enough electors to elect the president.”

Attorney Malik Zulu Shabazz, head of the New Black Panther Party doesn’t see it as a problem for President Obama.

“I don’t think the Jonathan Pollard case is a make or break issue for President Obama. I think even if Jonathan Pollard is not released, the Obama administration is going to do so much for Israel, they’re going to make so many concessions to Israel and will continue to not say anything about human rights violations. There’s no American President including this one that has taken a firm stance against Israel or anything,” said Atty. Shabazz. “Classic case, the U.S. is bombing Libya but ignores the human rights violations Israel commits with the outright taking of the Palestinian’s land. There’s not even so much as a statement condemning Israel.”

Rabbi David Sapperstein, director and counsel for the Religious Action Center for Reform Judaism believes Mr. Pollard should be released but doesn’t think the issue will affect President Obama’s campaign.

“It’s become an emotional issue, widespread not just among Jews but among Americans in general that his sentence was way out of proportion to others who’ve spied for friendly countries. There’s been a campaign for clemency,” he told Press TV.

“Israel has asked for his freedom for the same reasons Americans have asked for his freedom. This was a disproportionate sentence,” said Rabbi Saperstein. “Everyone condemned what he did. This issue is the way it was handled. He was promised a plea agreement and a short sentence. In return for that he gave up his right to a trial but ended up with a life time sentence.”

Atty. Shabazz believes Pres. Obama can get around this issue by standing up to Israel and its Jewish lobby in America.

“Israel can be challenged and you can survive. Look at Minister Farrakhan,” said Atty. Shabazz, “I’m a lesser example too. I’ve been attacked by the Jews, the Zionists and I’ve survived.”

Related links:

Calif. lawmaker Jane Harman  linked to Israeli spy inquiry   (FCN, 05-11-2009)

Ex-U.S. Army engineer charged with spying for Israel   (FCN, 05-05-2008)

New Israeli spy probe has a 30-year history, insiders say   (FCN, 09-14-2004)

ADL: Censoring the Internet on behalf of Israel   (FPP/Arabia.com 01-10-2001)