Protest for Pollard
Protest for Pollard Hezki Ezra

A few hours before President Barack Obama lands in Israel for his first visit to the country as president, thousands of people demonstrated in front of the Jerusalem residence of President Shimon Peres on Tuesday evening, calling on the U.S. president to release Jonathan Pollard.

The chair of the Bayit Yehudi Knesset faction, MK Ayelet Shaked who also heads the Knesset Lobby for Pollard’s release, said during the demonstration that President Peres should be committed, during his meeting with Obama, “to do all he can to soften Obama’s heart and convince him to pardon Jonathan Pollard. Hopefully this will be the last Pesach holiday in which Jonathan is in his cell.”

MK Yoni Chetboun (Bayit Yehudi) also took part in the demonstration and said, "Jonathan Pollard will come to Israel this week. Left and right, with a kippah and without a kippah, all the people are calling to free Pollard. I'm sure that Pollard will come back to us with or without Obama. He will come back thanks to us, thanks to this unified voice of all.”

Jonathan’s wife, Esther, spoke to the demonstrators and promised that she would rush to update her husband about the large number of demonstrators who came to call for his release.

“Our goal,” she said, “is not to justify or to make excuses or to try to excuse a very painful episode in our history and in the history of America. Jonathan and I are not asking for anything but compassion and mercy.”

An online petition calling on Obama to release Pollard has so far been signed by more than 200,000 people.