By Rob Muchnick
Director, Manhigut Yehudit, USA
It can be very difficult to keep smiling if you are in the "Pro-Israel" camp these days.
The unrelenting Arab terror attacks throughout Israel which Bibi's government does nothing serious to end (it cost more Jewish lives even today). Jews being targeted around the world in France, in Italy, in New York and elsewhere for the crime of being Jewish. And the BDS movement - significantly financed by Bibi (yes, that's right) - is gaining steam everywhere it goes. And it’s impossible to attend virtually any American university and be pro-Israel these days without being harassed, threatened and called a modern-day Nazi.
On the political front it's no better. In denouncing the Paris attacks, John Kerry legitimized the murder of Jews in France earlier this year at the kosher supermarket, and the Swedish Foreign Minister blamed the attacks in Paris on Israeli mistreatment of the "Palestinians".
But tomorrow night, as we sit down to our Shabbat tables around the world, G-d willing we will have something to put a smile on our faces. The heroic Jew, Jonathan Pollard, is due to be released from his imprisonment/torture at the hands of the United States.
Jonathan provided key intelligence to the Israeli government on Arab weapons development in general, and on Iraq's chemical weapon program in particular.
The US had refused to provide this information to Israel directly even though the two countries had shortly before signed an agreement to share just this type of intelligence.
Jonathan asked his supervisor in the US Department of Naval Intelligence why America wasn't providing this info to Israel. His supervisor’s response was to ask Jonathan "why are Jews always so upset about poison gas?"
The intel which Jonathan provided enabled every Israeli citizen to have gas masks and safe rooms during the initial Gulf War. Why do we think Saddam Hussein didn't send the scuds with chemical warheads? He didn't send them because they wouldn't have done anything - thanks to Jonathan!
Jonathan sacrificed his freedom to protect the Jews of Israel.
And Israel actually sold him out!
Before he was arrested, Jonathan actually made it to the Israeli embassy, but the embassy handed him to the US. Unbelievable! (But that is another story for a much longer article.)
For the crime of passing secrets to an ally (which were supposed to have been given to the ally, anyway), Jonathan's judge overlooked a plea deal which should have resulted in a sentence of 1-2 years and gave Jonathan a life sentence with the chance of parole at 30 years.
Israel's "best friend", the US, kept Jonathan in solitary confinement for the first 7.5 years. Please let that sink in.
And for the first 20-25 years of his incarceration America's Jewish population was mostly ashamed of Jonathan, because they didn't want to be labeled as having dual-loyalty.
Now, after 30 long, grueling years, Jonathan is due to be released tomorrow.
How many thousands of Jewish lives did he save? Too many to count, that's certain.
Jonathan, thank you for everything that you sacrificed for all of us.
You are our hero, and your release will make it that much easier for all of us to follow the mitzvah to be happy on Shabbat!