By Danny Danon | USAToday.com | February 26, 2013All of us here in Israel welcomed wholeheartedly the announcement by the White House that President Obama will visit Israel next month. Over the past two years, the president has made critical policy decisions that have enhanced Israel's security. Now, it is my hope that the president will use his upcoming trip not only to meet our political leaders, but to forge a bond with the people of Israel. The best way to do this is to finally pardon Jonathan Pollard, a U.S. citizen convicted of spying for Israel, and allow him to come home to Israel ahead of the presidential visit in March. This would not only right an historic wrong, but will also serve to remove an unfortunate stain from an otherwise close American-Israeli relationship.
Earlier in his presidency, Obama made a number of decisions that some of us felt were not helpful in terms of our geopolitical standing and strengthening our negotiating position with our neighbors. Thankfully, during the second half of his first term it seems that he began to chart a new course. The Obama administration stood resolutely by Israel's side at the United Nations as the Palestinians attempted to nullify our signed agreements by forcing a vote on unilateral statehood. Similarly he has joined the US congress in placing – and enforcing – biting sanctions that are aimed at curtailing the Iranian nuclear program.
Nevertheless, the feeling persisted here that President Obama has not connected with Israelis on a visceral and emotional level. While the steps the president has taken over the past two years have helped reassure leaders in Israel about the president's intentions, a pardon for Jonathan Pollard would go a long way in showing the Israeli people where his heart lays.