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Letters week of Dec. 18, 2008
Time Is of the Essence: Free Jonathan Pollard!
President George W. Bush has the power to pardon Jonathan Pollard who received a life sentence and was the victim of false charges of passing classified intelligence. He was not charged with treason, only of supplying Israel with information pertaining to the situation in the Middle East.
I did an investigation of the case. Pollard accepted a plea bargain with no life sentence, and cooperated with the FBI and the prosecutor.
Days before sentencing, Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger filed a 46-page document, charging Pollard with allegations of aiding Russia, actions he called treason.
Defense counsel failed to take any legal steps to rebut the charges, even though Pollard denied them. Counsel also failed to file an appeal, which led to the loss of a habeas corpus motion filed by Pollard.
Years later, the truth was disclosed: Aldrich Ames of the CIA and Robert Philip Hanssen of the FBI gave the intelligence to Russia, not Pollard.
Pollard has now served 24 years, including seven years in solitary confinement. His constitutional and civil rights were violated. His crime was minor, usually leading to a five-year -- or less -- sentence.
If Pollard had pled not guilty, the United States would not have had the evidence to convict. The case is a blot on our legal system.
This is not solely a Jewish issue. I urge all who hold public office to contact President Bush to free Pollard. I also include all others of good will to do the same. Time is of the essence.
Pollard Did Real Damage; He Deserves No Clemency
So the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations has called on President Bush to pardon Jonathan Pollard. This ostensible humanitarian call is misguided and disingenuously overlooks the seriousness of his offenses.
Pollard gave Israel daily satellite photos of the Soviet Union's order of battle. The Yitzhak Shamir government immediately passed those photos along to the Soviets to demonstrate which Soviet emplacements Israel could target if threatened by the Soviets.
By turning these photos over to Israel -- and by extension to the Soviets -- Pollard let the Soviets know exactly what the United States knew.
The photos informed the Soviets that the United States had spy satellite technology to see through their camouflage. Most dangerously, the photos included the computer codes to direct these U.S. satellites.
Pollard's supporters claim that he was trying to help an U.S. ally. In violating his oath of allegiance as a Navy intelligence analyst, he endangered the American national interest -- and, by extension, Israel's.
Moreover, Pollard was well-paid for his endeavors by his Israeli Embassy handlers. He deserves no clemency.
Elihu D. Davison
Morris Township, N.J.
There Are Now 10 More Commandments to Follow
As a citizen and as a representative of the American Jewish Committee, Philadelphia Chapter, I couldn't agree more with Rabbi George Stern on the need to reduce our nation, and the world's, dependence on foreign energy sources (Opinions: "Climate Change Should Have Israelis Perspiring a Little," Nov. 26).
The American Jewish Committee has long been an advocate for a responsible energy policy. Not only does our tradition commit us to protect the planet and its inhabitants, but a serious energy policy is essential to the economic and social future of the United States and Israel.
As a Jewish agency, AJC is doing its part to advance these issues at this critical time, taking concrete steps toward meeting the goals we ask of others. We ask you to join us by taking AJC's Energy Pledge -- the Ten Commandments for Responsible Energy Consumption -- at: www.AJC.org.
These 10 simple steps can make America stronger, our environment healthier and our economy more robust.
A window of opportunity exists that must not be wasted. We call on Philadelphia's Jewish community to join us, and make the goal of sustainability and energy security a reality.
Philadelphia/Southern New Jersey Chapter
American Jewish Committee
Jewish Press Should Be Held To Higher Standard
Is it appropriate that photographs taken during the funeral of Gavriel and Rivkah Holzberg appear on the front page -- or any page -- of the Jewish Exponent?
That photographers would be present at such an event is abhorrent enough. But that the Jewish community can't read articles about the tragedy of Jews killed in Mumbai without graphic images of tearful religious Israeli women and a rabbi reciting prayers over the shrouded bodies of yet more victims of terror is, in my view, outrageous.
Have we become so desensitized to such commonplace images that we readily accept them as a necessary component of such a tragic story, without thinking about their appropriateness?
I don't expect the mainstream media to exercise any level of sensitivity over those grieving, especially when the issue is terrorism and the victims are Jewish. But, I for one, would like to see a more responsible Jewish press with higher standards -- maybe even one that can serve as a light unto other media outlets during the presentations of stories requiring a heightened level of sensitivity.
Some may say that what I'm suggesting is called censorship. I would argue for another label: decency.
Dr. Eric S. Cantor
What's Up With 'Jewish Exponent?' It's So 'Blah'!
For the last two or three weeks, it has taken me about 30 minutes to read the Jewish Exponent.
I remember I'd spend over two hours reading the paper -- and love every minute of it.
What has happened? The paper is blah to read.
I don't look forward to Thursdays anymore -- the day the Exponent is delivered.
Does it have to do with executive editor Jonathan Tobin leaving? Can I look to the future for a better paper?