Youth group 'goes to jail' for Pollard protest
Bnei Akiva activists to join forces with Meretz youth group for July 4 protests at US Consulate in effort to bring attention to Israeli agent's case.
Gil Hoffman - The Jerusalem Post - July 3, 2011
More than 50 Bnei Akiva youth activists will be going to jail for 10 days, starting Monday.
They aren't being incarcerated for committing any crimes or breaking the Orthodox group's rules about keeping kosher and the Sabbath. The teens are going voluntarily to a makeshift prison they built at the youth group's headquarters in Jerusalem's Valley of the Cross to protest the life sentence of Israeli agent Jonathan Pollard by the United States.
The Bnei Akiva activists on Monday will join forces with the Meretz youth group outside the American consulate in Jerusalem at a protest symbolically held on July 4, American Independence Day. MKs Nachman Shai (Kadima) and Uri Ariel (National Union) will speak at the event.
Then the activists will go to their cells, where they will try to recreate Pollard's conditions, following the lead of activists trying to bring home kidnapped soldier Gilad Schalit.
"We hope to bring about the quick release of our brother Jonathan Pollard with original, educational and ethical activities that will attract attention," said Eliad Avriki, coordinator of Bnei Akiva's southern region.
Meretz Youth spokesman Yarin Shechter said his group would participate in the protest because Pollard acted on behalf of Israel. He said he considered it an issue of human rights.
The young pro-Pollard activists will wear prison uniforms similar to the one Pollard wears in his cell in North Carolina. They will be joined by dozens more Bnei Akiva activists from across the country for a Shabbat in their cells in which they will talk about the agony faced by Pollard and Schalit.
Another protest, led by adults, will be held Monday night near the home of the American ambassador to Israel.
A large American flag under a banner reading "Free Pollard now" was hung over the weekend on a building at a junction that the ambassador passes through every day.
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