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Obama’s Half-Brother Agrees to Intervene for Pollard

U.S. President Obama’s half-brother, in a secret trip to Israel, has agreed to intervene with his sibling on behalf of Jonathan Pollard.
By Hillel Fendel
First Publish: 5/12/2011, 10:42 AM / Last Update: 5/12/2011, 12:41 PM

Flash 90

U.S. President Barack Obama’s half-brother, in a secret trip to Israel, has agreed to intervene with his sibling on behalf of decades-long imprisoned Jewish spy Jonathan Pollard. 

Mark Ndesandjo, born to the U.S. president’s father’s Jewish wife, visited Israel last week. He met with Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger and agreed to speak to his powerful brother on behalf of Pollard.

Ndesandjo, 45, was born to Barack Obama, Sr.'s third wife, an American Jewish kindergarten teacher named Ruth Nidesand. Obama, Sr. and Nidesand were married for about eight years; Ndesandjo has said that his father was abusive to him, his brother David and his mother.

Ndesandjo met with Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger, from whom he asked for a blessing for his mother and also visited the Western Wall. His visit to Israel was kept secret for his own safety, given the American assassination of Osama Bin Laden just a few days beforehand.

Ndesandjo arrived at the Chief Rabbinate wearing a yarmulke atop his trademark bandana. Rabbi Metzger took the opportunity to ask his visitor to try to convince the president to release Jonathan Pollard; Ndesandjo said he would. The rabbi said that Ndesandjo has met with the U.S.president several times in the past two years, and that they are in “regular” telephone contact.  

"He looked so similar to his brother that even if he didn't say anything I would have recognized him," the Chief Rabbi was quoted as saying by the Hebrew daily Yediot Acharonot. "He said that his mother often reminds him to be proud of his Judaism. He seemed like a very sensitive Jew whose heart is invested in helping his fellow man."  

Ndesandjo now lives in China, where he teaches piano at an orphanage and runs an Internet company advising Chinese companies on international markets.