“Due to the superior values the medal represents, we feel we cannot reconcile to you receiving it when the United States is still holding Pollard in prison,” said the petition “We ask you to take advantage of your unprecedented diplomatic standing in order to work for Jonathan’s immediate release before you are given the medal. Otherwise, receiving the medal would make a mockery of Israel.”
In his response, the Israeli President expressed his commitment to Pollard’s cause. “As president, I see it as very important to work determinedly to bring about Jonathan Pollard’s release,” Peres said. “We are all united in the call to release him immediately. In all my meetings with president Obama and top American government leaders I raised the request to release Pollard and I will continue to do so when I meet with Obama in June. My office is in touch with the campaign for Pollard’s release and we will work hand in hand in any way possible to bring Jonathan Pollard home.”
A 1987 Israeli commission investigating the Pollard matter reported that Shimon Peres, as Prime Minister, personally oversaw the return to the United States of every document that Pollard had given to the Israeli government, which included the spy’s fingerprints, thereby enabling his prosecution. This was the only time in the history of modern espionage that a prime minister actively aided in the prosecution of his own country’s agent.
Amnon Rubinstein, Israel’s former Education Minister, was one of those who signed the petition. “Any lawyer with a conscience must support Pollard’s immediate release,” Rubinstein said. “His disproportionate sentence goes against the American constitution that bars cruel and unusual punishment. Enough is enough.”
President Obama is scheduled to present the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Peres at a special ceremony in Washington on June 13.