Mark Obama Ndesandjo with Rabbi Metzger 311.
(photo credit: Chris Levin)
Since US President Barack Obama took office, Israeli agent Jonathan Pollard has
been hoping and praying the president would have mercy on him and commute his
life sentence to the 25- and-a-half years he has served.
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But Pollard has
not received a response to a letter he wrote to Obama, which President Shimon
Peres personally delivered on April 5 when he met with Obama at the White
However, a positive statement about Pollard was finally made by an
Obama a week ago – not the president, but by his Jewish half-brother,
Mark Obama Ndesandjo is the son of Obama’s father, Barack Obama Sr.
and Ruth Nidesand, the daughter of Lithuanian Jewish immigrants to the United
Ndesandjo, who runs an Internet company in China, came to Israel
last week on a private visit that was kept secret for security
Ndesandjo met in Jerusalem last Thursday with Ashkenazi Chief
Rabbi Yonah Metzger.
When Ndesandjo asked the rabbi about what Judaism
has to say about charity and good deeds, Metzger asked him if he could do a good
deed by raising Pollard’s fate with his brother.
“I said that as a Jew,
you need to help another Jew become free after serving too many years in
prison,” Metzger told The Jerusalem Post. “I told him about people who committed
similar crimes and served shorter sentences. He said his main connection to his
brother was by phone and promised me that he would make an effort on the
Metzger takes pride in being the only chief rabbi to have twice
visited Pollard during his prison term. He said both of his meetings with the
convicted spy in his North Carolina prison lasted over five hours.
pre-Pessah lecture by Metzger, in which he mentioned Pollard, made headlines
around the world. The reports made it seem as though Metzger threatened Obama
that he would not be re-elected if he did not release Pollard, but Metzger said
his words were taken out of context.
“I said that many of the American
Jewish leaders I have met with were disappointed in Obama and were considering
voting against him if he did not release Pollard,” Metzger said.
expressed hope that Ndesandjo would have an influence on his brother and help
bring about Pollard’s release.
“In the name of the Jewish people, I want
to say to Obama that after he removed the top of the pyramid of international
terror in Osama bin Laden, now is the time to show that the US can take an
opportunity also to show mercy when necessary,” Metzger said.