By Elliot Goldenberg, author of Spy of David
Long a friend of Israel – in contrast, many believe, to Barack Obama – Republican presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee jumped on the free Jonathan Pollard bandwagon back in 2011, following the lead of Philip B. Heymann and others. Huckabee called for Pollard’s release.
On January 26 of that year, as noted in Spy of David, Gil Hoffman reported in the Jerusalem Post that Heymann, a former U.S deputy attorney general, had requested that President Obama release Pollard. According to Hoffman, Heymann – the James Barr Professor of Law at Harvard Law School, author of two books on terrorism, and the director of Harvard Law School’s International Center for Criminal Justice – became the first U.S. official to state he had reviewed Pollard’s complete record and found no evidence that he helped America’s enemies.
Heymann also became the second senior Harvard Law School professor to write Obama, asking him to commute Pollard’s life sentence to the more than twenty-five years he had already served. The first, Hoffman noted, was Charles Ogletree, who was a mentor to both the president and his wife, Michelle.
“Having already served a severe sentence, Pollard is now supported by political and religious leaders across the political spectrum in seeking a commutation,” Heymann wrote in a letter to the president. “I join them with deep conviction as to the justice of their shared cause.”
At the same time, Pollard would soon pick up another supporter – perhaps his most important ally, yet. That new ally, Mike Huckabee, the former governor of Arkansas who had come up short in his 2008 bid for the presidency, but is now making another run at the White House, arrived in Israel in late January 2011 with actor Jon Voight. They both met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
On February 1 the Jerusalem Post reported that Voight called Pollard’s life sentence “beyond injustice,” and “a clear case of anti-Semitism.”
According to the Jerusalem Post, Huckabee stated that, as a gesture of friendship to Israel, President Obama should commute Pollard’s sentence. “Right now,” Huckabee said, “we don’t need anything that reflects that we are anything but an absolute ally of Israel. [Freeing Pollard] would send the right message to the rest of the world: that America is not pulling back on its friendship and relationship with Israel, but it is accelerating it and making sure that we are taking every step possible to solidify those bonds.”
It is finally happening. Pollard is scheduled to be released from prison on or before November 21, 2015, the thirtieth anniversary of his arrest.