Barack Obama's brother promises to help Pollard

On visit to Israel, Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Metzger asks Jewish Obama relative to make personal appeal to US President

Gil Hoffman - The Jerusalem Post - May 11, 2011

Israeli agent Jonathan Pollard has been hoping and praying since US President Barack Obama took office that Obama would have mercy on him and commute his life sentence to the 25 and a half years he has served.

Pollard has not received any reaction to a personal letter he wrote to Obama that was personally delivered to him by President Shimon Peres when he met with Obama at the White House on April 5. But a positive statement about Pollard was finally made by an Obama a week ago-- not President Obama but his Jewish half-brother, Mark.

Mark Obama Ndesandjo is the son of President Obama's father, Barack Obama Sr. and Ruth Nidesand, the daughter of Lithuanian Jewish immigrants to the United States. He runs an Internet company in China, and he came to Israel last week on a private visit that was kept a secret for security reasons.

During the visit, 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 issue."

Metzger takes pride in being the only chief rabbi who visited Pollard twice in jail during his term. According to the rabbi, both of his meetings with Pollard in his North Carolina prison lasted more than five hours.

A pre-Passover lecture by Metzger, in which he mentioned Pollard, made headlines around the world. The reports made it look like Metzger threatened Obama that he would not be re-elected if he did not release Pollard, but Metzger said he was 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.

Metzger 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 show mercy when necessary," Metzger said.

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