Maggie Alarcón

Letter to the Editor, JTA, re: Alan Gross

In Blockade, Cuba, Cuba/US, Cuban 5, History, Israel, Politics, US on November 10, 2011 at 3:52 pm

Israelis holding up signs in support of the prisoner exchange.

jta.org Nov 09 2011

To the Editor:

My father and his parents lived in Cuba during World War II. They couldn’t come directly to the United States, and were compelled to wait in Cuba for years before finally receiving permission to enter the US in 1942. This was because of the restrictive quota on Jewish immigration which was strictly enforced by the Roosevelt administration. My life-long interest in Cuba is rooted in that family history. My father is referenced in Robert Levine’s TROPICAL DIASPORA.

Thanks for sharing Judy Gross’s appeal for support. Mr. Gross’s arrest and imprisonment in Cuba had nothing to do with his being Jewish. It was all about the political work Mr. Gross was doing while on the island of Cuba. In the time he’s been in custody, his wife has visited him, as have US diplomatic representatives, who were also able to attend his trial.

Mr. Gross has had plenty of time to reflect on the circumstances which got him where he is today, and he recently shared some of his conclusions with his Rabbi, David Shneyer. Here are excerpts from Rabbi Shneyer’s report to his congregation on what Alan Gross told him:

“Having learned about the recent swap of Gilad Shalit for more than 1000 imprisoned Palestinians, he felt that the US and Cuba could do the same for him and the Cuban Five, five Cubans convicted of spying and serving sentences in the US from 15 years to life. Alan saw a photo of the September vigil coordinated by the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington in a Mexican newspaper. He hoped that future vigils would focus on the humanitarian aspects of his release.

“Alan was convicted and sentenced to a fifteen year term not so much for giving electronic equipment to some Jewish Cubans but because he was working for a company under a USAID contract, under a program designed to help undermine the Cuban government.”

The Palestinians included armed combatants who’d launched rockets and bombs at the state of Israel while the Cuban Five were completely non-violent intelligence gatherers. They probably never got a traffic citation while in the United States. In their thirteen years of incarceration, they’ve been model prisoners who’ve never had a disciplinary infraction.

Israel subsequently traded 25 Egyptians for one Israeli-American. And let’s not forgot those ten Russian agents caught last year. Within ONE WEEK they were traded with Russia for four Russians being held by the Russian government having been charged with being US agents.

Why can’t Washington trade five Cubans for Alan Gross?

Thank you,

Walter Lippmann

Editor-in-Chief, CubaNews

Los Angeles, California

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