The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) is one of several Jewish groups that have worked to produce a Congressional letter to President Barack Obama, urging him to exercise clemency and release convicted Israeli spy, Jonathan Pollard. A Congressional letter, initiated by Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) written in coordination with a broad array of Jewish groups, including the ZOA, and signed by 39 Democratic Members of Congress, called for the freeing of Pollard who, after 25 years behind bars, has more than served any reasonable term for passing classified material to an American ally. Other Jewish groups backing the letter include the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, National Council of Young Israel, Bâ€™nai Bâ€™rith International, the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, Agudath Israel of America and the Rabbinic Council of America.
The Members of Congress stated in their letter, â€œWe 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 â€“ or not served at all â€“ by many others who were found guilty of similar activity on behalf of nations that, like Israel, are not adversarial to us,” it says. “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 deterrenceâ€ (â€˜Congressional letter urges Obama to release Pollard,â€™ Jerusalem Post, November 19, 2010).
ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said, â€œThe ZOA has long argued that Jonathan Pollard has more than served his sentence for passing on classified information to Israel, a U.S. ally, not a U.S. enemy. Jonathan Pollard has expressed in writing deep remorse for breaking the law. No one ever charged with espionage, even those who spied for U.S. enemies like the Soviet Union, and whose activities resulted in the death of American agents, has served a comparable amount of time behind bars to Jonathan Pollard, whose activities involved no such detrimental results. This is clearly an injustice.
â€œJonathan Pollard pled guilty as part of a plea bargain, but he was shown no leniency and was given the maximum sentence, comparable to that of Aldrich Ames, the chief of CIA counterintelligence in Eastern Europe, who passed critical defense secrets to the Soviet Union during the Cold War, and who was found responsible for the deaths of at least 11 U.S. agents. Much of the harm to American security alleged to have been caused by Jonathan Pollardâ€™s actions may well have been caused by the espionage activities of Aldrich Ames and Robert Hanssen, whose actions came to light only after the Pollard sentencing.
â€œWe renew our call to President Obama for the release without delay of Jonathan Pollard.â€