U.S.-born Knesset member Dov Lipman (Yesh Atid) made a personal appeal to President Obama from the Knesset podium “not to let Jonathan Pollard die in prison.”
Speaking in the Knesset last week, Lipman said he had planned to use the platform of the Knesset podium to address President Obama in English but found out that speaking in English “is, regrettably prohibited by the Knesset bylaws.”
He then said in Hebrew: “Mr. President, in the name of my colleagues in the Knesset, and in the name of the citizens of Israel, I ask you not to let Jonathan die in prison. Please act with the American values of compassion and tolerance and free Jonathan Pollard. Please reflect on the shared biblical values of our two nations along with the close relationship and friendship between our two countries - both of which you have championed as president. Please enable Jonathan, who has paid the price for his crime and has suffered enough, to live out his remaining days in freedom.”
Those “shared values” he said, were an integral part of his own identity, recalling the experience renouncing his American citizenship as required by Israeli law for service in the Knesset. “I confess to you that it was an emotional experience and I even shed some tears. I had trouble saying the words that the clerk told me to repeat. Why was it so difficult? Because so much of who I strive to be - tolerant, understanding, fair and compassionate - was inculcated in me by the United States of America. I cried because those words felt like a rejection of the strong American values which I was taught by my parents and teachers.”
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Lipman recounted how, on November 21, 1985, as was a ninth-grader in a yeshiva high school in Silver Spring Maryland, he had been only 30 minutes from the spot where Pollard was arrested in front of the Israeli embassy.
He said at the time it had “bothered him very much” that an American Jew had been arrested and charged for spying for an ally. His father a federal judge “explained to me that Jonathan had broken the law and must pay the price for doing so.” But now, Lipman said, 28 years later, “the time has come to recognize that Jonathan has paid the price. Yes, he spied. Yes, he violated American law and for that he rightfully went to jail.” But now, he said the time has come to recognize that his imprisonment should end.
He also called on his Knesset colleagues and “all fellow Jews” to pray daily on Pollard’s behalf. “Please join me in beginning each day with a prayer to God for heavenly mercy, to help us succeed in freeing Jonathan.”
Channel 10 reported that Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, freed from Hamas captivity in Gaza last year, has also called for the release of Pollard. Shalit wrote a Facebook status on Monday informing that he signed the petition to free Pollard and encouraged his friends to do so as well. "Freedom is a gift and a huge privilege." Shalit wrote.