It is said that King Hezekiah would have become the Messiah had he sung shirah (song of thanks) after G-d miraculously delivered 185,000 Assyrian soldiers into his hands in one fateful night around 700 BCE. Unfortunately, he failed to do so. We cannot make the same mistake.
After the events of last week, it is again time to sing shirah and we should not miss the opportunity. For the very first time in American history, a United States secretary of state visited areas of Israel that, until the Trump administration came along, were not fully recognized or even acknowledged as part of the Land of Israel. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, on November 23, 2019, took the unprecedented step of declaring the cities and towns of Judea and Samaria “not illegal” and “do not violate international law.” Last week, he went further, and by visiting Judea and Samaria, he not only declared them “not illegal” but very much real, viable, and without using the word, very much “sovereign.” Of course, it would be great if indeed the Trump administration extended sovereignty once and for all over all of Judea and Samaria. Secretary of State Pompeo should be praised and applauded for not only his visits to the City of David in Jerusalem, Psagot, and the Golan Heights, but for his pronouncement that the United States would henceforth view the international boycott-Israel movement (BDS) as anti-Semitic.
The second event that the Jewish people must sing the “Song of Songs” for is the Justice Department’s decision to declare that Jonathan J. Pollard, after 30 years of serving time, had completed his parole and was now free to immigrate to Israel. The Justice Department declared, “In accordance with the statute, the commission has ordered that, as of today, his parole supervision is terminated and he is no longer subject to the conditions of parole.”
After 30 years of hard activism by many, both in America and Israel, Jonathan Pollard will finally be able to live out his dream. Although many, I am sure, asked the President to allow this to happen, I for one am on record of doing so in June of 2017. I am happy that this day has finally come. It has been an absolute struggle from the get go.
These are great accomplishments for the Jewish People. After 36 years of fighting in the trenches for the Jewish People, it is truly a time to sing to the Almighty and thank Him.
Looking back at all the actions by many, it is time to reflect on what actually led to this extraordinary moment. I wish I could tell everyone’s story.
For 26 years, I helped organize the Israel Day Concert in Central Park. Each year, we highlighted the plight of Jonathan Pollard. I am proud we did so. Public expressions of support were essential in getting us to this point. Similarly, the concert brought awareness to the towns of Judea and Samaria, Greater Jerusalem, Hebron, the Golan Heights, and the Jordan Valley. Don’t think for a minute that this event did not shape the views of many in the Trump administration.
I am happy that a new generation of activists is at work. I see a bright future for Jewry because of them. They are witness to all we have done. The Pompeo visit and the Pollard decision should give them a great deal of inspiration. So much more has to be accomplished. Besides extending sovereignty to all of Judea and Samaria, the Jewish people in the United States and in Israel have to be brought back to their roots, to the straight and narrow – to Torah-true Judaism. This is not a fantasy. This can be done. Not many thought the State of Israel would be reestablished after 2,000 years, but sure enough it was.
We are a nation of miracles. Very few would believe that this day would come when Jonathan Pollard would be allowed to move to Israel, or that a secretary of state would visit Judea and Samaria. Hard work pays off. Keep the faith and sing shirah.
Joseph M. Frager is a physician and lifelong activist.