November 22, 2011 (JTA) – Vice President Joseph Biden met with several Jewish American leaders to discuss the case of convicted spy for Israel Jonathan Pollard.
During Monday evening’s meeting, Biden reportedly listened to the seven American Jewish leaders, who made a case for the severity of the sentence and the support of U.S. political leaders for clemency, Ynet reported. The newspaper did not name the participants.
Biden promised last month that he would meet with Jewish leaders on the Pollard case after telling rabbis at a political meeting in Florida that “President Obama was considering clemency, but I told him, ‘Over my dead body are we going to let him out before his time.’ “
Jewish organizational leaders from across the political and religious spectrum have called on successive presidents to grant clemency to Pollard, a U.S. Navy civilian analyst who was sentenced to life in prison in 1987 for spying for Israel. In recent months, Obama has received a flood of clemency appeals on behalf of Pollard from members of Congress, former U.S.
government officials and Israeli officials.
On Monday, Pollard entered his 27th year in prison in the United States.
Pollard’s wife, Esther, said in a statement issued Monday that her husband may not survive another year in prison.
“In the last year, as Jonathan’s [medical] condition became worse, he was too weak to even sit through a one-hour visit. I feel he’s withering away in front of my very eyes,” Esther Pollard said in the statement.
She added that after “26 years, all his systems are feeble and we both know that the next emergency hospitalization or operation are just a matter a time, and that no one is promising us he’ll make it through.”
Pollard has been hospitalized four times this year.
Esther Pollard’s statement came as the Justice for Jonathan Pollard campaign called on its supporters to call the White House and send the message “Free Jonathan Pollard Now.”
The campaign has publicized the White House’s phone number and set up a special number in Israel that goes directly to the White House for the cost of a local call, according to Ynet.