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Obama heckled during speech to Israelis, responds with joke

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U.S. President Barack Obama was heckled during a speech in front of Israeli students in Jerusalem on Thursday and responded with a joke, saying, “I wouldn’t feel comfortable if I didn’t have at least one heckler.”

“This is part of the lively debate that we talked about,” Obama added.

The heckler, who was booed by other students, spoke in Hebrew, the White House said in a pool report, cited in The Huffington Post.

“A reliable Hebrew speaker seated near pool says the shouting was about [Jonathan Jay] Pollard,” the pool report said. “We presume calling for his release.”

Pollard was convicted in the United States in 1987 for spying for Israel, passing classified information to the Jewish state. He pleaded guilty and was handed a life sentence. Israel admitted in 1998 that Pollard had worked for it and since then various Israeli officials lobbied for his release.

During an interview earlier this month with Israel’s Channel 2, President Obama said, “I have no plans for releasing Jonathan Pollard immediately.”