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January 31, 2015 / 11 Shevat, 5775
 
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US Lawmakers Meet with Cuba’s American Jewish Prisoner, Alan Gross

Gross, age 65, has vowed to return home to the United States by the end of this year, either “dead or alive.”
Alan Gross and his wife Judy in Jerusalem in past years.

Alan Gross and his wife Judy in Jerusalem in past years.
Photo Credit: Courtesy Gross family

Four U.S. lawmakers met in Cuba on Monday with imprisoned American Jewish hostage Alan Gross. The legislators visited the jailed social worker at a prison hospital due to his medical condition, which is precarious.

Gross was arrested in December 2009 while visiting Cuba to provide internet access for the Jewish community there. According to a report posted by the Havana Times he was employed at the time by Development Alternatives, Inc., and contracted by USAID, an American government agency.

Gross was subsequently sentenced to 15 years in prison for “crimes against the integrity of the State.” Cuban authorities said he was caught “carrying sophisticated telecommunications equipment prohibited on the island, working for a well-funded, secret USAID program designed to topple the Cuban government.”

Speaking to reporters in Havana following their visit, delegation leader U.S. Rep. Barbara Lee said in a brief statement, “It is in the interests of both our countries to start negotiations, not just talks. It is time for both countries to make a serious commitment to enter into negotiations without preconditions.”

For years, Cuban leader Raul Castro has been trying to persuade the Obama White House to enter negotiations to free the “Cuban Five” — spies who were caught and jailed for espionage in the United States in 1998. Two have already been released, having served their terms. One is serving a double life sentence. President Barack Obama has reportedly shown no inclination to discuss the matter with Cuban officials, and no apparent interest in a swap deal for Alan Gross.

(Likewise Obama has had no interest in discussing a deal to commute the sentence of American-Israeli agent Jonathan Pollard to time served. After having agreed to a plea bargain, Pollard was nevertheless sent to prison on a life term in 1987 on a single count of passing information to an ally. Often jailed under harsh conditions at the prison where he is held in North Carolina he is presently in extremely frail health. Hundreds of appeals to U.S. presidents through the decades have left all unmoved — including Obama, who has been approached by the current Israeli government.)

U.S. Representatives Gregory Meeks (D-NY), Sam Farr (D-CA) and Emanuel Clever (D-MI) also took part in the delegation to Cuba. They met with Alan Gross for 90 minutes, according to the report. The delegation reportedly then met with Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez.

There have been no diplomatic relations between Washington and Havana in more than half a century. But Gross, age 65, has vowed that by the end of this year, he is determined to return home to the United States, either “dead or alive.”

About the Author: Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.


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4 Responses to “US Lawmakers Meet with Cuba’s American Jewish Prisoner, Alan Gross”

  1. Zohar Behar
    כִּי-לִי בְנֵי-יִשְׂרָאֵל, עֲבָדִים–עֲבָדַי הֵם, אֲשֶׁר-הוֹצֵאתִי אוֹתָם מֵאֶרֶץ מִצְרָיִם: אֲנִי, יְקוָק אֱלֹהֵיכֶם
    For me, the children of Israel are servants; they are my servants whom I brought forth out of the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God.

    Many people translate “the Children of Israel” to “The Jewish people”.

    Please note that the word for Jewish, “יהודי” does not appear in the whole Torah. (It is found in the other two parts of the bible but as reference to individuals.)
    Jacob is Israel (See Genesis 32:29) and his children are the twelve tribes. They came to the land of milk and honey, settled in and built the Holy Temple.

    After the death of King Solomon, Rehoboam, his son causes a split in the nation. This situation allowed negativity to get in and brought the exile of the ten tribes, “The Lost Tribes”.

    We know that the tribe of Yehuda supported Rehoboam, the king of Israel, the son of Solomon, the son of David.

    A Jew, “יהודי”, connects to the tribe of Yehuda and to the line of David. Prophesies tells us about G-d’s promises to gather us from all the nations (Ezekiel 20:34). In Ezekiel 20:40 G-d says that in the Holy Mountain, all the house of Israel will serve G-d.
    כִּי בְהַר-קָדְשִׁי בְּהַר מְרוֹם יִשְׂרָאֵל, נְאֻם אֲדֹנָי יְקוָק –שָׁם יַעַבְדֻנִי כָּל-בֵּית יִשְׂרָאֵל כֻּלֹּה, בָּאָרֶץ:
    שָׁם אֶרְצֵם–וְשָׁם אֶדְרוֹשׁ אֶת-תְּרוּמֹתֵיכֶם וְאֶת-רֵאשִׁית מַשְׂאוֹתֵיכֶם, בְּכָל-קָדְשֵׁיכֶם
    The “children of Israel” refers to all the Tribes, including the lost ten. They could be your neighbors. If they were not born as Jewish, “יהודי”, it doesn’t mean that they are not from the house of Israel.

    The root of the word redemption “גְּאֻלָּה” appears in this parasha more than in any others. It also guides us to be honest and support each other. The code of seven that repeats in the parasha, represent the final Shabbat, the elevation to the light of Binah. It will be when all Israel will be united in the Holy Mountain, “בהר” (=207= Light=”אור”).

    Love your neighbor as yourself. He could be your brother, really your brother.

  2. Nazis, commies — what is the difference?

  3. Did anyone seriously think that Obama would do anything to negotiate for the release of these Jewish prisoners?

  4. Ira Kurtz says:

    Kill ALL COMMIES!

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