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Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Finally: Orthodox, Conservative and Reform Jewish leaders find something on which to agree

American Orthodox, Conservative and Reform Jewish leaders have finally found something on which they can agree: They're all angry at Gaffetastic Joe Biden.
The leaders of the three movements were all expected to criticize Biden at a post-Rosh Hashana toast he was to host Wednesday night at his Washington residence. The party comes in the wake of a September 23 meeting with Florida rabbis in which Biden condemned Israeli agent Jonathan Pollard to die in prison and called him a "traitor."

Anti-Defamation League director Abe Foxman was expected to bring to the reception a long list of top American and Israeli leaders who have urged US President Barack Obama to commute Pollard's life sentence to the nearly 26 years he has already served.

The New York Jewish Week published an article with quotes from the heads of the Jewish streams in the US supporting Pollard's release and criticizing Biden.

Rabbi Eric Yoffie, president of the Union for Reform Judaism and a political dove, told the newspaper that the subject of Pollard had been "taboo" for years, but now he was prepared to raise the issue with Biden.

"No major political figure would identify with a release-Pollard petition, but now there are people in the political system who - without justifying his actions - are saying [clemency] is something that should be done," Yoffie said.

Rabbi Steven Wernick, president of the United Synagogue for Conservative Judaism, told the newspaper that Biden's statements confused him because of the vice president's many years of support for Israel.

"I can't help but suspect there is more information at play than is available [to explain] why he would take a harsh stance on clemency," he was quoted as saying.

Orthodox Union director of public policy Nathan Diament, who like Yoffie and Wernick intended to attend the reception, said he expected Biden to bring up Pollard during his welcoming remarks.

Rabbi Pesach Lerner of the Orthodox National Council of Young Israel, who is very close to Pollard, pointed out to the newspaper that Biden was incorrect in calling the Israeli agent a traitor.

"He was convicted of spying for a friendly country with no intent to harm the United States," he said, adding that Pollard is the only person convicted of spying for a friendly country who received a life sentence.
My guess is that Obama will release Pollard... sometime between October 1 and election day, 2012.

Cynical? Me? Nah. Why put a good crisis to waste.

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