Is Alan Gross more valuable to Castrogonia because he is Jewish?

Alan Gross visited  by Rabbi Arthur Schneier during the feast of Purim
Alan Gross visited by Rabbi Arthur Schneier during the feast of Purim

The answer to the question raised in this article’s title seems to be “yes.”

Rabbi Abraham Cooper –associate Dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles –suggests that some oligarchs  in Castrogonia definitely think that Jews in the United States have immense clout and are therefore in a better position than most people to pressure the U.S. into releasing the Cuban “Five” (now three) in exchange for Gross.

Rabbi Cooper employs the term “freedom fighter/terrorist” for the Castronoid spies serving jail sentences in the U.S.  Whether he is being sarcastic or not is hard to tell.

But there is no doubt at all about one thing: the abysmal vileness of the Castro regime rivals that of the devil himself.

Prayers for Alan Gross’ freedom on Passover 2014

By Rabbi Abraham CooperPublished April 14, 2014

I never met Alan Gross. But on Monday night, when I gather with 700 other American Jews in Phoenix to celebrate the Passover Seder, his plight will be one of the hot-button issues, along with the post-mortem on Secretary of State John Kerry’s Mideast peace talks and Iran’s imminent nuclear breakout.

That’s because it is increasingly clear that Gross, an American, is caught in a no-man’s land between the U.S. and Havana, a hostage to the Cuban authorities’ desperate desire to free five of their freedom fighter/terrorists from U.S. custody.

Gross, 64, was not convicted of espionage, but of bringing computers and satellite phones paid for by a grant from a U.S. agency to a Jewish group serving the tiny Jewish community in the communist island nation 90 miles from Florida.

I learned of Gross’ plight in 2012 from then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who used a very public meeting with 200 Jewish leaders at the State Department to denounce Havana for jailing him – while distancing the U.S. government from any responsibility to get him out!

“Try to help him,” Clinton told me.

My chance came two years ago, when the Simon Wiesenthal Center and the Shoah Foundation were asked to prepare a permanent Holocaust exhibition for a synagogue in Havana.

From the moment I landed, I asked to see Gross. It never happened, but I did have a formal meeting with a government official who dealt with “religious” issues (including the visit of Pope Benedict XVI that took place a few weeks later).

I urged the Cubans to release Gross on humanitarian grounds. The official emphasized that Gross had “violated the law,” but he did not accuse him of being a spy or try to justify his draconian 15-year sentence.

Later, during an informal discussion with a well-informed Cuban, it became clear that one of the reasons they threw the book at Gross was because Alan Gross is a Jew. Not that he is being mistreated in jail because he is Jewish. To the contrary. But some Cubans were convinced that his value as a hostage went up because he was a Jew.

“Everyone knows that the Jews have a lot of clout in Washington,” this person told me somewhat sheepishly – so sentencing Gross to 15 years could be the key to win the freedom of their agents jailed in the U.S., the thinking went.

Well, I guess they never Googled Jonathan Pollard, an American Jew who, despite decades of protests from members of the Jewish community over the harshness of his sentence, is still in Federal Prison in North Carolina for spying for Israel 30 years later!

So, for now, Gross remains a prisoner of unfortunate circumstances and unrealistic expectations. I have no idea what it will take to win his release. He is reported to be on a hunger strike and has myriad medical issues. I can only hope the Obama administration will make his release a priority before further economic concessions are made to the Cuban regime.

Geopolitics aside, it is true that the mitzvah (good deed) of Pidyon Shvuim (ransoming Jewish hostages) is considered of great importance. Jewish law dictates that a community can sell its last holy Torah scroll to save the life of a fellow Jew.

So if Washington or Havana were to ask this rabbi (and they have not) how to solve the Gross quandary, here would be my simple game plan: Have President Castro release Gross on humanitarian grounds, and I am sure that an interfaith group of clergy, myself included, would undertake to bring much needed medicines to help Cubans in need .

In the meantime, I will be thinking of Alan Gross and his family while eating the bitter herbs at our Passover Seder, and saying a prayer he will soon be free.



7 thoughts on “Is Alan Gross more valuable to Castrogonia because he is Jewish?

  1. Cooper seems to have more than a clue, not that it takes genius to figure this out. Yes, the bastards probably thought a Jew would make a better bargaining chip, but the elephant in the room remains largely (and I expect deliberately) ignored: Obama’s failure to make it too costly for the Castro mafia to retain Gross. As for Hillary pathetically passing the buck, she might as well have said “Yes, this is regrettable, but really, what difference does it make?” It obviously doesn’t make much difference to the Obama administration.

  2. It’s a constant source of wonderment to me how the USA that never had seconds thoughts about outright invading and/or destabilizing Panama, Grenada, Santo Domingo, Chile, etc… continues to indirectly help the castro regime by giving it the upper hand in situations such as this. In essence helping to forge the image of the invulnerable castro who constantly and bravely faces down the Goliath to the North.

  3. And this rabbi doesn’t get it, either. He offers to send much needed medical supplies to Cuba, but does not realize that under our so called embargo the U.S. already sends lots of medical supplies and ordinary Cubans receive not a bandaid from them. Plus he doesn’t realize the irony that Gross was offering phones to Cubans in need and that is why he is in jail in the first place.

  4. Honey, Cooper makes the wrong assumption that Castro, Inc. cares about the needs of average Cubans. The welfare and best interests of the Cuban people have always been beside the point; the regime only really cares about maintaining or strengthening its own position.

  5. Alan “Woe-is-me” Gross, who denounced the U.S. before being sentenced and later sued the U.S. government, has dual Israeli citizenship. Israel, which has been silent about his case, should take up his cause and trade him for Palestinian prisoners.

  6. asombra, that was my point.

    antonio2009, what have you got against Israel? I don’t want them to take up the American, Gross’s cause. They have enough to worry about of their own problems. And I don’t want them to release Palestinian terrorist prisoners. Even Jonathon Pollard does not want his freedom to be used as a basis for trading terrorists for him.

  7. How about the fawning Shimon Peres letter to Fidel Castro in 2010, for starters?
    Gross is also an Israeli citizen, with dual nationality, so he is their problem. Pollard is a traitor to the U.S. and so is Gross, who denounced the U.S. before being sentenced and then he and his wife sued the U.S. government. Gross needs to apologize to the U.S. and to the Cuban exiles he denounced. Otherwise, he should man up and finish his sentence with dignity, as did so many other Cuban political prisoners.

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