Saturday, March 3, 2012

The Israeli Council of Progressive (Reform) Rabbis recently drafted an emotional letter to Barack Obama pleading with him to release Israeli agent Jonathan Pollard

The Israeli Reform rabbis drafted their letter amid increasing pressure on Obama to commute Pollard’s sentence to the more than 26 years of his life term he has already served. The pressure is expected to intensify ahead of Obama’s meeting with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in Washington. Rabbi Eric Yoffie, the immediate past president of the Reform Movement, and Rabbi David Saperstein, director of the Reform Religious Action Center, met with Obama privately after Obama spoke at a Reform Conference in Washington in December 2011. Nearly half the meeting was devoted to the Pollard issue. In their appeal to Obama, the rabbis stressed that commuting Pollard’s sentence was a matter of consensus throughout the Jewish community. But Yoffie emphasized that while Pollard’s release was important to the Jewish community as a whole, “it is especially important to the Reform Jewish community.” The rabbis said after the December 2011 meeting that they felt that Obama had listened to their appeal with a sympathetic ear. They told people they felt encouraged and that they were expecting movement on the Pollard issue soon. “Hopefully we will see some progress in the not-too-distant future in terms of getting clemency for Jonathan Pollard,” Saperstein said in a video calling for Pollard’s release that has been circulating on YouTube. American Jewish leaders expressed cautious optimism that the Obama-Netanyahu meeting could lead to Pollard’s release. “The time is ripe now,” a prominent American Jewish leader said. “The upcoming summit with Netanyahu next week provides the president with the perfect opportunity to release Pollard – a gesture that would be appreciated by Jews around the world, especially the Reform movement, his greatest supporters.”

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