Obama: “I Wouldn’t Feel Comfortable if I Didn’t Have at Least One Heckler”

The Slatest
Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
March 21 2013 1:23 PM

Obama: “I Wouldn’t Feel Comfortable if I Didn’t Have at Least One Heckler”

Well, that may not have been the reaction the heckler was hoping for. He heckled, President Obama turned on the charm, and got a standing ovation.

Just as he was urging young Israelis to choose peace, a man standing to Obama’s left began yelling in Hebrew, according to the pool report, cited by the Hill. It seems the heckler was shouting about Jonathan Pollard, the American who is serving a life sentence for spying on the United States for Israel. Pollard, who was granted Israeli citizenship while in prison, has turned into a cause célèbre in Israel and among Jews in the United States, with many pro-Israel groups, and members of the government, calling for his release.

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The president paused for a second, and then said, “This is part of the lively debate that we talked about.” The crowd loved it and went from booing the heckler to applauding until most of the audience had risen to their feet.

“I have to say, we actually arranged for that because it made me feel at home. I wouldn’t feel comfortable if I didn’t have at least one heckler,” Obama said.

Daniel Politi has been contributing to Slate since 2004 and wrote the "Today's Papers" column from 2006 to 2009. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoliti.

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