Vice President Joe Biden denied he said spy Jonathan Pollard would be released “over his dead body,” telling U.S. Jewish leaders on Wednesday, however, that the sentiment expressed in his rejection was his own.
Referring to the convicted Israeli spy, Biden was quoted by the New York Times on Saturday as telling Florida rabbis that U.S. President Obama “was considering clemency, but I told him, ‘Over my dead body are we going to let him out before his time’’”
However, U.S. Jewish leaders speaking with Haaretz on Monday said the U.S. vice president claimed that while the general thrust of the statement was correct, his exact phrasing was taken out of context.
Malcolm Hoenlein, Executive Vice Chairman of the Conference of Presidents, said he, along with other Jewish leaders, approached Biden on the issue during the U.S. vice president’s Rosh Hashanah reception in Washington, saying: “He did say that things were taken out of context, but he was ready to discuss it further.”
“We said it was an important issue for the community, and he agreed to have a meeting on it,” Hoenlein said.
Biden reportedly listened to the concerns raised by the leaders of U.S. Jewish organizations concerning Pollard, and asked his aides to schedule a meeting with Jewish community leaders to discuss this matter.