President Obama was heckled Thursday during a speech to an audience that included scores of university students in Jerusalem.
About 15 minutes into his remarks, a man standing in the crowd started shouting in Hebrew. Citing a reliable Hebrew speaker, the White House pool reporter said the shouting was about Jonathan Pollard, an American who was found guilty of spying for Israel and is serving a life sentence for the crime.
Mr. Obama took the interruption in stride.
“This is part of the lively debate we talked about,” he said. “This is good.”
As the shouting continued, Mr. Obama added: “You know, I have to say, we actually arranged for that because it made me feel at home. You know, I wouldn’t feel comfortable if I didn’t have at least one heckler.”
Despite petitions and protests by some Israelis and even some pleas from a few Israeli leaders, Mr. Obama has said he doesn’t intend to release Mr. Pollard — that the Israeli agent would have to go through the normal legal processes.
According to the Jerusalem Post, at least two ministers mentioned Mr. Pollard to Obama when they greeted him at the Ben-Gurion Airport Wednesday — Construction and Housing Minister Uri Ariel and Culture and Sport Minister Limor Livnat.
“Please free Pollard,” Mr. Ariel reportedly said.
“Please don’t forget about our brother Jonathan Pollard,” Mr. Livnat told Mr. Obama.
Mr. Pollard’s wife, Esther Pollard, told students not to disrupt Mr. Obama’s speech to the Israeli people Thursday, but to press the case for freeing her husband if anyone got the chance to speak to Mr. Obama personally.