Former kidnapped soldier Gilad Schalit became the latest well-known Israeli to sign a petition Monday calling upon US President Barack Obama to commute the life sentence of Israeli agent Jonathan Pollard.
The petition has been signed by nearly 150,000 Israelis, including Nobel prize winners, dovish authors, and politicians from across the political spectrum.
“Freedom is a great gift and a right,” Schalit wrote. “Thank you to those who worked on my behalf. Now join to save Pollard.”
Officials in the Free Pollard campaign said the message was Schalit’s private initiative. Pollard’s wife Esther told Channel 2 that her husband was encouraged by the petition, and asks her about it frequently.
Esther said Pollard desperately wanted to be home in Israel for Passover and expressed confidence that President Shimon Peres could persuade Obama to release him. When asked in the interview what she would tell Obama, she switched to English and expressed “profound remorse and sorrow” for her husband’s crime of passing classified information to an ally.
“Mr. President, all that Jonathan and I are asking for is compassion and mercy,” she said.
Composer Naftali Kalfa distributed a video on Youtube this week with a new song called “Free Jonathan Pollard,” whose chorus is “Do the right thing, do it now.”
“We need to use every tool possible to see Jonathan come home,” Kalfa said. “As someone who makes music, this is the tool I can give to help advance this just cause.”