Israeli agent Jonathan Pollard and his wife, Esther, called upon the Israeli
public on Thursday to show respect to US President Barack Obama during his 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
The Pollards expressed firm opposition to Likud MK Moshe
Feiglin’s call for the public to infiltrate Obama’s speech at the Jerusalem
International Convention Center and walk out when Obama enters the room if he
comes to Israel without commuting Pollard’s sentence.
disappointment that Obama decided not to address the Knesset.
come to the parliament, Feiglin intended to stage a walkout during his speech to
protest the continued incarceration of Pollard, who is in the 28th year of a
The official Committee to Bring Jonathan Pollard Home
sanctioned by the Pollards prefers to go through official channels, hoping
President Shimon Peres and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu can persuade Obama
to grant Pollard clemency.
Obama hosted leaders of several major American
Jewish organizations at the White House on Thursday as he sought to smooth the
way for his first presidential visit to Israel later this
“President Obama invited leaders from across the American Jewish
community to discuss and get input about his upcoming trip to Israel,” a White
House official said. “He also underscored that the trip is an opportunity for
him to speak directly to the Israeli people.”
Esther Pollard met at
length this week with Peres and Netanyahu, accompanied by Lawrence Korb, who was
US assistant secretary of defense at the time of her husband’s arrest in 1985. A
source present at the meetings described them as “warm, cordial and unusually
Peres indicated that in his opinion it would be a “win-win”
situation for both countries for the issue to finally be resolved and for
Pollard to go free. He expressed puzzlement that his requests for Pollard’s
release, made in person and by letter, remained unanswered, and reiterated his
determination to make it happen.
“As one who is often called upon to
weigh clemency requests,” Peres said he would tell Obama, “president to
president,” to release Pollard without delay, on humanitarian grounds.
source present at the meeting with Netanyahu said the prime minister expressed
determination to see Pollard “go free now.”
Netanyahu indicated that
“both the public struggle and behind the scenes diplomacy are legitimate means
to achieve that end.”
He too repeated his strong commitment to do
everything possible “to seek Jonathan’s immediate release and repatriation to
The source reported that Esther Pollard stressed that time was
running out for her husband and urged both leaders not to miss this golden
opportunity to save him. She implored Peres to act expeditiously, saying that
Obama’s visit was the most opportune time to “cut the Gordian Knot” and allow
her husband to move to Israel.
“Whether as a gesture to you, Mr.
President, or as a gesture to the people of Israel, or as a matter of American
justice which has waited a very long time for resolution, it is simply the right
thing to do,” Esther Pollard told Peres.
“Jonathan’s release and return
to Israel in advance of the president’s arrival would be a reassuring gesture to
all Israelis and it would set the tone for a constructive and deeply appreciated
visit to our country.”
Korb stressed to both Netanyahu and to Peres that
the revelations of a newly declassified 1987 CIA damage assessment clearly
indicate that Pollard did not spy against the US as was previously claimed and
provides solid ground for Israel to make a strong demand for Pollard’s release
on more than just humanitarian grounds. He said that given this new set of
circumstances, and in light of Pollard’s failing health, now was the time to
push, despite Peres’s previous request for Pollard’s freedom remaining
“Your original request was made before the new CIA
revelations were known,” Korb told Peres. “The new revelations are a game
changer. Now that so many of the lies about the case have been cleared up,
President Obama is in a much better position to respond positively to clear up