In rare move, Conference of Presidents leaders say "pursuit of justice should be tempered with compassion, we renew our plea for Pollard's release."
Richard Stone, chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, and conference executive vice president Malcolm Hoenlein expressed dismay and regret on Tuesday that Israeli agent Jonathan Pollard was not allowed to attend the funeral of his father Morris in Indiana the day before.
The statement criticizing the US administration, without mentioning it by name, was rare for the central coordinating body representing 51 national Jewish organizations on issues of national and international concern.
“We believe that this humanitarian gesture was warranted,” Stone and Hoenlein said. “It underscores the need for prompt action to release Jonathan Pollard after 25 years of imprisonment. His sentence is disproportionate to others who have committed similar crimes.
Mr. Pollard has expressed remorse for his actions and has paid a heavy personal price as was witnessed today. The pursuit of justice should be tempered with compassion and we renew our humanitarian plea for his release.”
Hoenlein has said that there should not be public daylight between Israel and the United States, because it works against the interests of both countries and also against US president Barack Obama’s chances of achieving peace.
“When you say there shouldn’t be daylight, it doesn’t mean there shouldn’t be differences,” Hoenlein said in a recent interview with The Jerusalem Post. “The differences should be dealt with as between friends and resolved quietly as friends. Once you go public, everybody gets locked into hardened positions.
“Two countries, no matter how close, will always have things come up where their particular interests don’t always coincide completely. But overwhelmingly they do... and the polls are just astonishingly positive. Almost two-thirds of the American people say they want the president of the United States to be a staunch supporter of Israel, and I think they don’t want to see an ally treated as the newspapers have reported.”
At a session about Pollard in the Knesset plenum, National Union MK Arye Eldad said that Knesset members should respond to what he called America’s cruelty by returning the invitation they received to the July 4 Independence Day party at the American Embassy in Tel Aviv with a note that
they won’t participate in any American celebrations until Pollard is free.
Kadima MK Otniel Schneller disagreed with Eldad. He said the American government displayed “coldheartedness to the point of unfathomable wickedness” by not letting Pollard attend his father’s funeral, but that the MKs should still attend the celebration.
“It would be nice if the world’s model democracy was more sensitive to universal values of mercy, but we MKs, as representatives of Israel, must display our gratitude to our friends in America on their holiday.
“Beside our frustration, we must emphasize the common ground between our nations.”