The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) has strongly criticized President Barack Obama for spurning heart-rending appeals from Israel, American Jewish leaders, Knesset members and the Pollard family to permit the long-imprisoned Jonathan Pollard to attend his fathers funeral. Earlier, President Obama had ignored appeals from Israel, American Jewish leaders, Knesset members and the Pollard family to allow Pollard to visit his dying 95-year old father in South Bend, Indiana. Pollard has served a record 26 years in prison (including 24 years since sentencing) for passing classified information to Israel, a U.S. ally, a longer period than that served by any other person in U.S. history convicted of passing classified information to any foreign power, let alone a U.S. ally.
ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said, It is truly astonishing and unjust that President Obama could be so hard-hearted as not to appreciate the inherent humanitarian gesture that was called for in this case permitting a long-imprisoned inmate to attend the funeral of his father. Permitting this gesture would have spoken well of the President and would have been without prejudice to the outstanding issue of granting Jonathan Pollard a presidential pardon and returning him to his family after two and half decades behind bars.
The ZOA has stated repeatedly that it regards the continued imprisonment of Jonathan Pollard as an injustice. Mr. Pollard has long expressed a desire to move to Israel and Israel would accept him. His on-going imprisonment is unnecessary, unjust, disproportionate and inexplicable in terms of protecting the national interest. But more than that, the refusal to permit him even a days leave to attend his fathers funeral is unnecessarily hard-hearted, brutal and uncalled for. We strongly criticize President Obama for this act.