Youth activists from Bnei Akiva and Meretz gathered on Monday outside the United States consulate in Jerusalem. Shouting “Human Rights are for everyone,” the youths protested and called on President Barack Obama to free Jonathan Pollard.
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“We’ve gathered here today to protest the continued imprisonment of Jonathan Pollard who has been rotting in prison for the past 26 years,” said Meretz Youth spokesman Yarin Shechter. “We will continue this important struggle. It’s a struggle for human rights.”
The cooperation between Bnei Akiva and Meretz is not a natural one, as the two groups are from different sides of the political spectrum. However, in this case, they both agree that the Pollard saga has been going on for too long and must end now.
“Although we have many differences and don’t agree on many things, this is a consensus that everyone believes in,” said Baruch Pikart of Bnei Akiva. “We think Jonathan should be freed without any conditions.
“We came here to say what Jonathan Pollard can’t say because he’s in prison,” he added. “Enough is enough. We want him free.”
“I hope that this cooperation continues, and there’s no reason why it shouldn’t,” added Shechter. “We’re all in favor of bringing Jonathan home.”
The demonstration took place as fifty Bnei Akiva youths donned U.S. prison garb and entered a jail-like environment on Monday.
The “Pollard Jail” is a summer camp for Bnei Akiva from Israel’s southern district. Dozens of youths and instructors will loosely simulate the daily routine of jail life for ten days, in identification with Jonathan Pollard and in protest of his continued incarceration.
“These are young people who say that they don’t want to have a simple, regular summer vacation,” said Eliad Avriki, coordinator of Bnei Akiva’s southern region. “They come and say: ‘we want to spend the next ten days raising awareness about Jonathan Pollard.’ They’re even willing to enter a ‘prison’ for it, sleep on the floor and eat food which is not top quality, and all for getting Jonathan Pollard home as quickly as possible.”
Of the cooperation between Bnei Akiva and Meretz Youth, Avriki said: “This is a cooperation which says that we have a lot in common, perhaps even more than the things which separate us. It’s an amazing cooperation.”