Bob Levinson. Photo courtesy of the Levinson family

By Jake Novak

You’ve probably never heard of Bob Levinson. But Bob Levinson should be a household name for all Americans, especially American Jews.

Here’s why:

  • Bob Levinson is the longest-held American hostage in history; now in captivity for 11 years, nine months, and four days.
  • Bob Levinson is being held by Iran, whose agents abducted him on Kish Island on March 9, 2007.
  • Bob Levinson is a career FBI officer who had been investigating worldwide organized crime.
  • Bob Levinson is a husband and a father with seven children.
  • Oh, and one more thing: Bob Levinson is a Jew.

Each one of the above facts is crucial to the case and serves to explain why Levinson has been held so long. But first, there is important news to report on Levinson’s plight.

This week the public learned for the first time since at least 2011 that Bob Levinson is alive inside Iran. We also learned that he can be rescued by a team ready to get him at any time.

That news is thanks to a highly respected former U.S. Air Force intelligence officer named Bob Kent. I’ve personally known, admired, and trusted Bob for 30 years. And when he started to tell me about eight months ago that he’d become involved in the efforts to rescue Levinson, I knew something might finally change in this case.

And it has.

Kent told me last week that he’s had proof Levinson is alive since June. Kent as had a team inside Iran ready to rescue Levinson for months. The cost of the operation would be about $250,000.

So why has Kent gone public with these facts considering they could endanger Levinson if his captors find out about his efforts?

The simple reason is Kent and Levinson’s family and friends have run out of options because the U.S. government continues to block efforts to rescue Levinson. The most recent example of that obstruction is that multiple people who have put up the money for a possible rescue have been threatened by the FBI and the State Department.

And that brings us to the most intriguing part of the story: Multiple people in multiple different departments of the federal government seem opposed to Bob Levinson coming home.

Kent has learned the hard way about some of the reasons why. For the Obama administration, Kent revealed that not making a stink about the Levinson abduction was a bargaining chip in the controversial Iranian nuclear deal. That’s where the fact that Levinson is a Jew comes in, as there were State Department officials not willing to push back on the Iranians who considered their Jewish hostage to be undeserving of basic human rights. Levinson has never really lived as a practicing Jews, but that means nothing to the Iranians.

Levinson’s former colleagues also believe Levinson had damaging information about connections Iranian operatives in the Washington area had with members of many current and former government officials stretching back decades. One of those operatives Levinson was investigating was Abolfazl Bahram Nahidian, a long-suspected double agent who now runs the Manassas Mosque in Northern Virginia.

The bottom line is Bob Levinson is a Jew and an American and it’s long past time for American Jews to recognize that we must summon the same energy we’ve used so many times in the past and demand his release.

In the coming days and weeks, keep your eyes and ears open for more news on the Levinson story. Until then, it’s time to tell our Rabbis and other community leaders to begin speaking out for him. Iran’s aggression against Israel, Americans, and all Jews knows no bounds. Neither should our resistance to it.

Jake Novak has been a TV news producer and editorial columnist for more than 25 years, with expertise in political, economic, religious, and cultural issues. He has produced shows atCNBCCNNFOX, and several local stations across the country. Novak is a graduate of theYeshivah of Flatbush, has a bachelor’s degree in political science from Columbia University, and a master’s degree from Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism. Follow him on Twitter@jakejakeny and read his columns on


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