YERUSHALAYIM - The Pollards have asked the public to refrain from any disruptive or disrespectful actions during U.S. President Barack Obama’s visit to Israel in two weeks.
“Esther and Jonathan Pollard join the Committee to Bring Jonathan Pollard Home in urging the public to refrain from any action that may impugn the honor of the State of Israel by conveying, even inadvertently, any hint of disrespect or dishonor towards our official distinguished visitor,” the Pollards said in a statement. “We call upon the Israeli public to welcome President Obama to our country and to behave at all times with all due respect and honor towards the president of the United States.”
Likud MK Moshe Feiglin has called for Pollard supporters to show their dissatisfaction with Obama’s refusal so far to commute Pollard’s sentence by infiltrating Obama’s speech at the Yerushalayim International Convention Center and walking out when Obama enters the room, if by then he has not announced Pollard’s release. The Pollards are firmly opposed to such an action.
The Committee to Bring Jonathan Pollard Home, endorsed by the Pollards, has preferred to work through official channels, lobbying with President Shimon Peres and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, among others, to try to persuade Obama to free Pollard. They have promised to raise the issue with Obama during his visit.
Meanwhile, the campaign on behalf of Pollard, now in his 28th year in prison and in failing health, has been gaining momentum.
A petition calling on Obama to release Pollard has been signed by some 145,000 people, mostly Israelis. It was noted that proportionately, if the same percentage of the U.S. population would sign, it would equal about 35 million signatures.
Gilad Shalit, the Israeli soldier held in captivity by Hamas for five years, recently called on Israelis to sign the petition.
“I have signed the petition,” Shalit wrote in a statement. “Please, sign as well. Freedom is a great gift and right. Thank you to all those who were active on my behalf. Now, please join the effort to save Pollard. Gilad Shalit.”
Signatories include people from all segments of the political spectrum in Israel, including former President Yitzchak Navon and former Military Intelligence Chief Maj. Gen. (res.) Amos Yadlin.
Yadlin called for the release of Jonathan Pollard in a weekend interview.
Building trust between the US and Israel, Yadlin told reporters, “is dependent on the humanitarian issue of releasing Jonathan Pollard from prison.” Yadlin made the point that Pollard’s release and return to Israel is a matter of consensus for the entire nation.
“Many senior figures in the U.S. defense establishment support releasing Pollard,” he added. “The life sentence meted to Pollard is disproportional and it is therefore proper to grant him a pardon.”