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September 1, 2014 / 6 Elul, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Cuba’

Alan Gross Suspends Hunger Strike at Mother’s Urging

Sunday, April 13th, 2014

Alan Gross suspended his hunger strike Friday after a week at the behest of his elderly mother.

“Alan’s mother asked him to stop the fast,” Jill Zuckman, the spokeswoman of the family of the State Department subcontractor imprisoned in Cuba, told JTA. “He agreed to do that.”

Gross, who launched his fast April 3, told his lawyer in a weekly call on Friday that he planned further protest actions, Zuckman said, although he did not elaborate.

Gross’ mother, who is suffering from cancer, turns 92 on Tuesday, which is also the first day of Passover.

Gross, 64, a subcontractor for the State Department on a mission to hook up Cuba’s small Jewish community to the Internet, was arrested in December 2009 as he was leaving Cuba. The Maryland resident is serving a 15-year sentence for “crimes against the state.”

Gross says he has lost more than 100 pounds since his imprisonment and suffers from painful arthritis. He reportedly leaves his shared cell once a day for one hour.

When Gross launched his hunger strike, he said it was to protest inaction by both the Cuban and U.S. governments. “Once again, I am calling on President Obama to get personally involved in ending this stand-off so that I can return home to my wife and daughters,” he said in a statement at the time.

Alan Gross Goes on Hunger Strike in Cuba

Tuesday, April 8th, 2014

American-Jewish contractor Alan Gross has gone on a hunger strike to protest his imprisonment in a Cuban jail and the lack of American assistance.

“I began a fast on April 3rd in protest of the treatment to which I am subjected by the governments of Cuba and the United States,” Gross said in a statement issued on Tuesday.

“I am fasting to object to mistruths, deceptions, and inaction by both governments, not only regarding their shared responsibility for my arbitrary detention, but also because of the lack of any reasonable or valid effort to resolve this shameful ordeal. Once again, I am calling on President Obama to get personally involved in ending this stand-off so that I can return home to my wife and daughters,” Gross said.

Gross, 64, a subcontractor for the State Department on a mission to hook up Cuba’s small Jewish community to the Internet, was arrested in December 2009 as he was leaving Cuba. The Maryland resident is serving a 15-year sentence for “crimes against the state.”

Gross says he has lost 100 pounds since his imprisonment and suffers from painful arthritis. He reportedly leaves his shared cell once a day for one hour.

In a letter sent in December 2013, Gross asked President Obama to personally help secure his release.

The Cuban government has indicated that it wants the United States to allow the return to Cuba of five spies in prison or on probation in the U.S. in return for negotiations on Gross.

Gross’s wife, Judy, said in a statement that she fears her husband will not be able to endure his confinement much longer. “I’ve been begging our government for more than four years to bring Alan home,” said Judy Gross. “I’m worried sick about Alan’s health, and I don’t think he can survive much more of this.”

Kerry said Tuesday that he had spoken to the Gross family a month ago to discuss the status of efforts to free Gross. ”We are very, very focused on trying to get Alan Gross out of there, his treatment is inhumane,” Kerry said while testifying in the Senate.

Kerry Asks Vatican to Help Free Alan Gross

Tuesday, January 14th, 2014

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry asked the Vatican on Tuesday to intercede in helping free American-Jewish contractor Alan Gross from a Cuban jail.

Kerry said in a meeting Tuesday with the Vatican’s secretary of state, Archbishop Pietro Parolin, they discussed Cuba and the need for respect for freedom of religion and human rights in the island nation.

“I raised the issue of Alan Gross and his captivity, and we hope very much that there might be able to be assistance with respect to that issue,” Kerry told reporters following the meeting.

Gross, 64, a subcontractor for the State Department on a mission to hook up Cuba’s small Jewish community to the Internet, was arrested in December 2009 as he was leaving Cuba. The Maryland resident is serving a 15-year sentence for “crimes against the state.”

Edward Alex Lee, the U.S. acting deputy assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere affairs, met with Gross late last week while in Havana for migration talks with Cuba. He said that the Gross case is a key issue in the troubled relationship between the United States and Cuba.

The Cuban government has indicated that it wants the United States to allow the return to Cuba of five spies in prison or on probation in the U.S. in return for negotiations on Gross.

Gross says he has lost 100 pounds since his imprisonment and suffers from painful arthritis. He reportedly leaves his shared cell once a day for one hour.

In a letter sent last month, Gross asked President Obama to personally help secure his release.

Alan Gross Meets with Cuban Jewish Leaders

Sunday, December 8th, 2013

Cuban Jewish leaders met with imprisoned Jewish-American contractor on the last day of Hanukkah, two days after Gross marked his fourth year in jail in Cuba.

“During the encounter we could see that he was in better spirits, more physically recovered,” according to a statement from the Beth Shalom Temple in Havana according to the Associated Press. The Cuban Jewish leaders have met with Gross for other Jewish holidays throughout his imprisonment.

Gross, 64, a subcontractor for the State Department on a mission to hook up Cuba’s small Jewish community to the Internet, was arrested in December 2009 as he was leaving Cuba. The Maryland resident is serving a 15-year sentence for “crimes against the state.”.

Gross says he has lost 100 pounds since his imprisonment and suffers from painful arthritis. He reportedly leaves his shared cell once a day for one hour. In a letter sent last week, Gross asked President Obama to personally help secure his release. The Cuban government has indicated that it wants the United States to allow the return to Cuba of five spies in prison or on probation in the U.S. in return for negotiations on Gross.

Washington Jews Plan Rally on Alan Gross’ 4th Year In Cuban Prison

Wednesday, November 27th, 2013

Alan Gross’ wife and Washington’s Jewish community are calling on President Obama to prioritize securing his release from a Cuban jail and will attend a demonstration at Lafayette Park outside the White House at noon next Tuesday, the fourth anniversary of his imprisonment.

Judy Gross and officials from the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington will be joined by leaders from other religions and local elected officials.

Gross, a subcontractor for the State Department on a mission to hook up Cuba’s small Jewish community to the Internet, was arrested in December 2009 as he was leaving Cuba. He is serving a 15-year sentence for “crimes against the state.”

At the rally, Judy Gross will read an excerpt of her most recent letter from her husband, who wrote in an excerpt of the letter the family provided to JTA, “It is clear that only the president of the United States has the power to bring me home.”

“On behalf of my family and myself, on behalf of every American who might ever find himself or herself in trouble abroad – I ask President Obama to direct his administration to take meaningful, proactive steps to secure my immediate release.”

Judy Gross told JTA in an interview that her husband, 64, is depressed and is in chronic pain from arthritis. “The best thing to do is contact the White House,” she said she’d tell people at the rally.

The Cuban government has indicated that it wants the United States to allow the return of Cuba five spies currently in prison or on probation in the United States.

Enough with ‘Bibi’

Wednesday, July 31st, 2013

What we call people matters.

After making aliya in November 2009, one of the first news articles I recall reading was a Jerusalem Post report titled “90 Fatah terrorists ‘pardoned’ to bolster Abbas.” The prime minister then was Binyamin Netanyahu, who went on to further incentivize terrorism with the Shalit deal.

On the latest 104 terrorists to be freed by Netanyahu, I have seen some shocked reactions along the lines of “This isn’t the man we elected.” Seriously? This would be like a tennis fan in the 1980s acting surprised to see Stefan Edberg go to the net or John McEnroe throw a tantrum.

The vileness of Netanyahu’s latest action was matched only by its predictability. There’s a point where being clueless becomes obnoxious, particularly when it results in nationally suicidal electoral behavior.

Some bloggers who have condemned the terrorist releases display a different problematic habit. Here are three examples:

  • “Bibi is making a mockery of our justice system.”
  • “Nothing exemplifies Israel’s looming civic disaster quite like Bibi’s recent announcement to free terrorists.”
  • “Shame on you Bibi Netanyahu. Shame on you for your fecklessness and lack of courage and backbone.”

I agree with all of the above, but the informal reference to Netanyahu undermines the writers’ intention. When you call someone by a nickname, how offensive and damaging can his acts really be?

By contrast, this informality doesn’t appear in Frimet Roth’s assessment of the latest releases. I don’t think that is coincidental. A mother doesn’t tend to call the man who freed the murderer of her child “Bibi.”

Years ago I wrote extensively about human rights abuses and anti-Semitism in Cuba, my work being cited by people including a National Book Award winner and a multi-Grammy Award winner. The apologists for Cuba’s despotic regime often refer to Fidel Castro by his first name. Several opponents of the regime have done likewise, unwittingly perpetuating the sympathetic attitudes they seek to reduce.

Like Cuba, Israel is a small country with an informal culture, and over time nicknames in Israel have become widespread—thus for example “Bogie” Ya’alon, “Buji” Herzog, “Arik” Sharon, and the prime minister. This implies endearing social warmth on the one hand, but excessive informality can also beget coarseness and cloud moral clarity—like using a man’s nickname in the context of him freeing our brothers and sisters’ murderers.

The man who expelled 8,600 Jews from Gush Katif and empowered Hamas is no Arik to me.

The man who tramples on justice and tells the world that Jewish blood is cheap is no Bibi to me.

The next time you’re about to call the prime minister by his nickname, consider the bereaved families whose pain he has increased. Consider how you would feel if you were one of them. Does “Bibi” still seem appropriate?

Federal Judge Dismisses Alan Gross’ Lawsuit against Government

Wednesday, May 29th, 2013

A federal judge dismissed on Tuesday a lawsuit filed against the U.S. government by Alan Gross, the American-Jewish contractor imprisoned in Cuba since 2009.

Judge James Boasberg of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia ruled that under federal law, the government cannot be sued for injuries that occurred in another country.

Gross and his wife Judy filed a $60 million lawsuit in November against the U.S. government and a government contractor, charging that Gross should have been better trained and informed of the risks before going to Cuba to set up Internet access for the Jewish community there.

Gross, 64, was arrested in December 2009 as he was leaving Cuba for “crimes against the state.” He spoke virtually no Spanish and traveled to Cuba five times under his own name before his arrest.

Gross’ family and U.S. State Department officials say that Gross was in Cuba on a U.S. Agency for International Development contract to help the country’s 1,500 Jews communicate with other Jewish communities using the Internet.

The main Jewish groups in Cuba have denied any contact with or knowledge of Gross or the program.

The Grosses settled in mid-May with Development Alternatives Inc., a Maryland-based contractor for the U.S. Agency for International Development, for an undisclosed amount.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/federal-judge-dismisses-alan-gross-lawsuit-against-government/2013/05/29/

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