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Thursday, October 06, 2011

Biden agrees to meet Jewish communal leaders on Pollard

In an attempt to defuse the controversy he stirred up with his words about Jonathan Pollard in a New York Times interview, Vice President has agreed to meet with Jewish communal leaders regarding Pollard.
Biden made the commitment at the end of a Rosh Hashanah reception with Jewish organizational leaders Wednesday, according to Malcolm Hoenlein, the executive vice-chairman of the Conference of President of Major American Jewish Organizations.


Hoenlein and other Jewish communal leaders from across the political and religious spectrum have called on successive presidents to grant clemency to Pollard, who was sentenced to life in prison in 1987 for spying for Israel. He is scheduled for mandatory parole in November 2015. In recent months, Obama has received a flood of clemency appeals on behalf of Pollard from Congress members and former US government officials.

Pollard recently underwent kidney-related surgery that was deemed successful.

Hoenlein said he asked Biden to give Jewish leaders the chance to make the case for Pollard’s release -- and, in response, the vice president agreed to hold a small meeting in order to have an “open and frank discussion” over the issue.

Biden also agreed that the meeting “would happen very soon,” Hoenlein said. “He takes it seriously and understands there is a concern in the community. I hope the meeting will be soon after Yom Kippur.”

Hoenlein said it was Biden's meeting, so the vice president would decide who ends up attending.
And that means that people like National Council of Young Israel's Rabbi Pesach Lerner - who has taken a leading role in the drive to free Pollard - will not be invited.

It would be better and at least somewhat meaningful if Biden met with Pollard himself. It's unlikely that Biden can or will be able to free Pollard himself, but he could make a huge statement by going to visit him.

What could go wrong?

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At 1:45 PM, Blogger Sunlight said...

One thing that confuses me about this... I've seen quotes by Israeli's talking about bringing Pollard "back" to Israel. Isn't Mr. Pollard American? So it can be said that Mr. Pollard will be offered an opportunity for aliya, but it does not help him for people to say he will be going "back" to Israel.


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