Thursday, October 6, 2011

Biden’s Pollard Boast Causes Obama Grief


Biden’s Pollard Boast Causes Obama Grief
@tobincommentary10.05.2011 - 5:59 PM
Vice President Joe Biden was having a wonderful time last week disingenuously reassuring rabbis in Florida the Obama administration was Israel’s best friend when his big mouth got him in trouble again. The  clerics were apparently buying everything the vice president was selling when it came to the Democrat’s comments in defense of the policies of a president who has been determined to distance himself from Israel since his first day in office. But when Biden was asked a question about freedom for convicted spyJonathan Pollard, the veep’s loose lips and well-known predilection for boasting wound up overshadowing his explanations about the Jewish state.
According to the New York Times, Biden not only expressed hostility to the idea of mercy for the Israeli spy but also actually claimed it was his opposition that convinced the president to abandon the notion of clemency. But as the Jerusalem Post reported today, rather than quieting down any rabbinical complaints about Obama, Biden’s statement has helped mobilize an unusual alliance of people from the major Jewish denominations who will deliver a protest at a meeting to be held tonight at the vice presidential residence.
In speaking so adamantly of the effort to free Pollard, Biden was reflecting the clear consensus of the U.S. intelligence community that is determined to see the former Navy analyst serve out his life sentence in jail. But by doing so in this characteristically intemperate and self-aggrandizing manner, Biden has ensured  the issue has been given new life, especially in an organized Jewish community that has tamely accepted Obama’s less-than-friendly attitude toward Israel.
As I wrote in the March issue of COMMENTARY, the Pollard case is a complex one, and those who have advocated on behalf of the spy have often been as guilty of exaggerations as those who, like Biden, want him to rot in jail. But one of the interesting aspects of this story is the way the organized Jewish community is now largely united behind pleas for mercy for Pollard. That this has occurred despite a clear reluctance on the part of many to speak up on behalf of a man who not only violated his oath but also did great damage to American Jews, is testimony to the strength of the concept ofpidyon shvuyim — the redemption of captives — in the Jewish tradition.
There are good reasons for Jewish groups to be ambivalent about Pollard. As I wrote in March:
Long after his release or death, Pollard’s behavior will still be used to bolster the slurs of those who wish to promote the pernicious myth that there is a contradiction between American patriotism and deep concern for the safety of the State of Israel. It is this damning epitaph, and not the claims of martyrdom that have been put forward to stir sympathy for his plight, that will be Jonathan Pollard’s true legacy.
But it is also true the case for clemency is a strong one:
With Pollard having entered his second quarter-century in prison, the case for mercy is not inconsiderable. He has served so much time that there is no longer any question of his getting off easy simply because he spied for a country most Americans care deeply about. His punishment has already been severe and the argument that he must stay in jail longer than many murderers who have been sentenced to life in prison merely to prove a point about the heinous nature of espionage is hardly compelling, considering that others who spied for allies or even some who betrayed their country to rivals like post-Soviet Russia have sometimes been treated more generously. Nor can anyone seriously believe that the damage he did is still relevant after all these years to the nation’s defense or its intelligence capabilities. Despite the hysteria that the suggestion that he be released provokes from the intelligence establishment, freeing Pollard now would harm no one.
I doubt that Obama, or any president, will pardon Pollard at any point in the forseeable future. The only conceivable scenario for doing so — as a bone to toss Israel in the context of concessions made by the Jewish state to the Palestinians as almost happened in 1998 — is unlikely to happen. Yet by speaking so contemptuously about an issue that moves many Jews who also happen to support Obama, Biden has created a new irritant for the president just at the time when he needed it least.



After report he opposed granting Israeli agent clemency, US vice president agrees to meet with Jewish leaders to discuss issue.JoeBidenInFrontOfFlagReutersUS Vice President Joe Biden (Pictured) has agreed to meet with Jewish communal leaders to discuss the case of Jonathan Pollard, one organizational official said.

Biden made the commitment at the end of a Rosh Hashanah reception with Jewish organizational leaders Wednesday, according to Malcolm Hoenlein, the executive vice-chairman of the Conference of President of Major American Jewish Organizations.

The New York Times recently reported that during an earlier meeting in Florida, Biden told a group of rabbis that “President Obama was considering clemency, but I told him, ‘Over my dead body are we going to let him out before his time.’”

Hoenlein and other Jewish communal leaders from across the political and religious spectrum have called on successive presidents to grant clemency to Pollard, who was sentenced to life in prison in 1987 for spying for Israel. He is scheduled for mandatory parole in November 2015. In recent months, Obama has received a flood of clemencyappeals on behalf of Pollard from Congress members and former US government officials.  
Source: NOTE:  Does anyone think a meeting with Biden will prevent him from speaking more double-talk?  Beware of smiling snakes.  He could come to a  meeting wrapped up in an Israeli flag, but remember his "mission" ... to cover-up his latest "foot in mouth" statements in order to reassure Israel that Obama is Israel's best friend (until after elections in 2012).