Jonathan Pollard turns 58 today, although he’s spent the last 25 years celebrating his birthdays in prison, having received a life sentence for spying against the United States. Each year, a crush of politicians–mainly Israeli, but sometimes American–as well as a melange of donors and lobbyists approach the President of the United States and ask for Pollard to be released. To date, the calls for clemency have not rendered any real results.
However, Jonathan Pollard has some powerful champions. This year, Sheldon Adelson, who can’t seem to stay out of the news, after footing some serious political tabs this year may be finally attempting to collect. Eli Lake and Dan Ephron are reporting that, according to sources, Adelson is likely to press Governor Romney to come out in support of releasing Pollard. According to the article, so far Romney has punted, explaining that without access to classified material on Pollard’s case, he can’t make the call yet. Here’s what else Adelson may want:
The issue is apparently one of a handful where Romney differs from Adelson on Israel. The billionaire has also asked Romney to state publicly that Israeli-Palestinian peace talks are a waste of time because the Palestinians are unwilling to make peace, according to the sources—and he wants a firmer commitment from Romney to move the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, in what would be a de facto recognition of Israel’s annexation of East Jerusalem. For his part, Romney has not said peace talks are a waste of time and has gone only partway on the embassy question, saying he would undertake the move in consultation with the Israeli government—a campaign promise other presidents have made. (Adelson has pressed Romney to pledge to move the embassy without consulting the Israeli government.)
Ron Reese, an Adelson spokesman said that Adelson has no policy expectations from Romney in exchange for his support. “He hopes to be invited to the Chanukah party at the White House,” Reese said.
For a deeper look at Pollard’s case, check out Gil Troy’s prescient piece from 2010 in which he envisioned broader support among American Jews for Pollard’s release.