By Joseph Frager, MD
On October 1, 2018 the United States Department of Justice denied Jonathan Pollard’s request to transfer his parole to Israel. This was reported in Hamodia and other news outlets on November 23. A letter was published to Yuval Kaplinsky, the director of Israeli Department of International Affairs, from Paula A Wolff, associate director of the International Prisoner Transfer Unit, stating, “The United States denied the transfer application because of the serious law enforcement concerns and because the applicant has become a domiciliary of the United States.” Ambassador Ron Dermer was cc’ed on the letter. This means that the request for transfer of parole is coming from the highest levels of the Israeli government. It is not clear why the Department of Justice continues to disallow transfer at this point since many members and friends of the Trump Administration are in favor of Pollard’s transfer of parole to Israel.
In June of this year, I had the honor of speaking to the President and asked him point blank to commute the sentence of Jonathan Pollard. I am sure by the President’s response that he himself is in favor of doing this although he did not say this explicitly. The President has been Israel and the Jewish People’s greatest friend and supporter. He has already done one of the all time greatest pardons of Rabbi Shalom Rubashkin. This was truly heroic. The Jewish People owe the President tremendous gratitude for this.
I believe that part of the problem is the ongoing acrimony between the Department of Justice and the President. The resignation of Jeff Sessions may have impacted on the decision to deny transfer of parole of Pollard. I pray it is in a positive direction. Surely, if the President commutes the sentence it will move the process along a lot more quickly. When and if he does, it will be a Great Day for the Jewish People. The President will be eternally remembered for doing so. He can add the commutation of Pollard’s sentence to his long list of achievements as President of the United States of America. It will end one of the longest and saddest chapters in American Israel Relations. It is long overdue.