Galilee Students March for Pollard's Freedom

Nisan 6, 5769, March 31, 2009 - Avraham Zuroff

( A group of 250 Israeli students rallied at Tel Hai for for the release of U.S. security prisoner Jonathan Pollard and other captive and missing Jews. Among the group were 40 Galilee high school students who completed a 'Freedom March' on Monday afternoon.

The students and teachers of the religious-Zionist Amit School in Hatzor HaGelilit want to see the captive and missing soldiers home next week for the Seder of Passover, which is called by the Torah "the Festival of Freedom." The school planned the 22-mile (35 km) trek to raise awareness and social responsibility among its student body. The walk from Tel Hazor to Tel Hai took a route passing through areas where battles for the freedom of the Jewish People took place.

Upon reaching Kadesh Naftali, the childhood home of the Biblical General Barak, the students spoke by mobile phone with Jonathan Pollard's wife, Esther.

"She said that our march has given her and Jonathan the strength to continue. It was amazing," said Avichai Golan, the school's principle. Golan explained that his school initiated freedom marches in support of Pollard three years ago, each time in a different part of the country.

Forty students from 9th to 12th grades went on the walk. Lower grades joined the marchers on Tuesday after partaking in educational activities at Tel Hai, where the one-armed, Russian-Jewish independence fighter Joseph Trumpeldor and seven others fell in a brave battle against marauding Bedouins in 1920.

An additional 160 students and faculty members completed the walk on Monday in a large ceremony at the Kfar Giladi cemetery, at "The Roaring Lion" memorial statue honoring Trumpeldor. They expressed their hope and prayers that all captive and missing Jews will regain their freedom this year.

When asked to clarify the Trumpeldor-Pollard connection, Golan explained, "They are two Jews who acted with their entire being for the freedom of Jewry. Both of them have been soldiers of the Jewish People."

While the male students were marching, 110 female students from the Ulpanit Amit School in Hatzor canvassed signatures from Hatzor residents and staffed information booths for Pollard's freedom. The list of signatures was sent Tuesday to Prime Minister-designate Binyamin Netanyahu, with a demand that the Israeli government call for Pollard's immediate release.

"There has been a campaign around Israel for the release of Gilad Shalit. But not for Pollard? Pollard is also a soldier of the Jewish People," Golan said.

At the day's end, the students held a communal prayer with the hope that the entire Jewish Nation will demand the release of Jonathan Pollard by Passover.

Jonathan Pollard was a U.S. Navy intelligence analyst in the 1980s when he came across information vital to Israel's security that was not being transferred to the Jewish state - contrary to an intelligence-sharing agreement between the U.S. and Israel. He then passed along the information to Israel, ultimately helping Israel to protect itself from Iraqi missiles. He was later caught while trying to find asylum in the Israeli Embassy in Washington. Despite a plea bargain agreement, he received a

life sentence

with no parole for an offense that usually nets not more than four years. In failing health, Jonathan Pollard is now in his 24th year of that sentence.

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