Jewish supporters of President Obama are ramping up their lobbying campaign to release Jonathan Pollard, claiming the move would go a long way in easing tension between the Jewish community and the White House.
“There are enough Jews who voted for Obama in 2008 who have questions and are moving away from him,” a senior member of Pollard’s campaign said. “By freeing Pollard, it would put people back in Obama’s camp.”
Pollard’s supporters have built a campaign for his release centered on humanitarian grounds, arguing that his punishment did not match the crime.
Supporters of the effort have taken out recent advertisements in Capitol Hill newspapers, including The Hill, to make their case. The ads list more than two dozen lawmakers and other policymakers who endorse a pardon, including Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), and Reps. Michael Grimm (R-N.Y.), Allen West (R-Fla.) and Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.).
Obama’s relationship with some Jewish Americans suffered a blow when he called for a return to the 1967 borders as a starting point for Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.
“The initial focus on settlements…gave the impression that Israel was the obstacle to peace,” said Rabbi Menachem Genack, the CEO of the Orthodox Union Kosher Division. “But we must acknowledge that the military support between the U.S. and Israel is at an all-time high.”