Thousands rally for Pollard's freedom in Jerusalem

5,000 demonstrate outside President Peres's residence, calling for his help in convincing Obama to release the Israeli spy.

Gil Hoffman - The Jerusalem Post - March 19, 2013

Some 5,000 Israelis demonstrated outside President Shimon Peres's official residence Tuesday, calling upon him to use his influence to persuade US President Barack Obama to commute the life sentence of Israeli agent Jonathan Pollard.

Pollard's wife Esther delivered an online petition backed by 200,000 Israelis to Peres Tuesday. She was accompanied by Jewish Agency chairman Natan Sharansky, a former prisoner of Zion in Russia.

At the rally, she said that 200,000 Israelis were the equivalent of 50,000,000 Americans, as a portion of the population. She said the rally was like a petition that had come to life.

Click here for full JPost coverage of Obama's visit to Israel

"Mr President, we're asking for your compassion and mercy, to heal this rift between our nations," she said. "We are approaching Passover. Let Jonathan come to the seder table and be free for the first time in 28 years."

Sharansky, who served in a Soviet prison for less than ten years, said he could not fathom being incarcerated for the more than 27 years Pollard has served. He said serving time was easier knowing the Israeli and American Jewish public were behind him and would not abandon him.

While in the past the Free Pollard movement was led by Rightists, recently people associated with the Left have become involved, including Ron Pundak, Gershon Baskin, and former MK Ophir Paz-Pines. The rally was addressed by Veteran Kibbutz Movement leader Yoel Marshak and Shimshon Liebman, who led the fight for Gilad Schalit's freedom.

Schalit wrote a letter to Obama Tuesday asking him to release Pollard.

Pollard is a former US Navy intelligence analyst that began spying for Israel in 1984. He was discovered 18 months later and after a failed bid to take refuge in the Israeli embassy, and was sentenced to life in prison.

In an interview on Israeli television in advance of his visit President Obama said he did not intend to release Pollard "immediately." He said Pollard had "committed a very serious crime" and was "serving his time."

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