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March 15, 2013 1:24 am

Obama Israel Visit Draws Calls from Miss Israel, Bar Refaeli for Pollard’s Release

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Jonathan Pollard. Photo: U.S. Navy via Wikimedia Commons

Yityish Aynaw, the first Ethiopian Miss Israel, hopes to tell President Barack Obama, whom she calls her role model, to “free [Jonathan] Pollard,” the former U.S. naval intelligence analyst serving a life sentence in U.S. prison on a conviction of spying for Israel.

Aynaw has been invited by Israeli President Shimon Peres to attend the official state dinner welcoming U.S. President Barack Obama when he arrives in Israel on March 20. Her comments about Pollard appear on a YouTube video of an interview she gave Israel’s Channel 2 television network.

Pollard is only person in U.S. history to receive a life sentence for spying for an American ally. When she was in high school, Aynaw headed the student council and was involved in advocacy efforts for Pollard’s release. “Lama lo? (“Why not?” in Hebrew),” she said of asking for Pollard’s release during the Obama Israel visit if she gets the chance to do so, according to the video of her remarks.

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The Ethiopian beauty queen is not the only celebrity activist campaigning for Pollard ahead of the Obama Israel visit. Israeli supermodel Bar Refaeli signed a petition for his release that has garnered more than 155,000 supporters, including actors Zion Baruch, Eli Yatzpan and Shlomo Vishinsky, as well as former Hamas captive Gilad Shalit, reported Israel Hayom.

Additionally, a new campaign titled “Teens waiting for Pollard” was launched asking people from Israel and around the world to take pictures of themselves displaying the number 28, the number of years Pollard has been imprisoned. In the U.S., the National Council of Young Israel on Thursday sent an email asking its supporters to call the White House at 202-456-1414 as part of a “Call for Clemency Campaign” for Pollard.

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