Will Pollard, Gross Follow in Wake of Ostreicher? 2

By Jacob Kamaras, JNS.org

WHILE an air of mystery surrounds the details of Jewish businessman Jacob Ostreicher’s return to US soil after being held for more than two years in Bolivia, the involvement of legislators and a high-profile celebrity in his case may shed some light on the conditions that could lead to the freedom of other high-profile Jewish prisoners, such as Jonathan Pollard (US), Alan Gross (Cuba) and Ilya Farber (Russia).

Ostreicher, a 54-year-old Brooklyn native, traveled to Bolivia in December, 2010 to oversee rice production and was arrested in June, 2011 on suspicion of money laundering and criminal organization.

No formal charges were ever brought against him, but he spent 18 months in prison before being released on bail in December, 2012, after which he remained in Bolivia under house arrest.

News of Ostreicher’s escape from Bolivia broke Dec. 16, and little was known about the circumstances of his return to America until actor Sean Penn told the Associated Press on Dec. 18 that he was with Ostreicher following a “humanitarian operation” to free the Jewish businessman “from the corrupt prosecution and imprisonment he was suffering in Bolivia.”

In May, Penn testified about Ostreicher’s situation in a hearing before the US House Committee on Foreign Affairs’ Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights and International Organizations. Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ), one of the leading advocates in Congress for Ostreicher’s release, had arranged the hearing and on Dec. 17 thanked Penn “for his tireless work to free Jacob.”

Bill Richardson — the former governor of New Mexico and US Ambassador to the UN — said in a recent conference call with reporters that, like the rest of the public, he doesn’t “have all the circumstances of [Ostreicher’s] escape” from Bolivia.

But Richardson attempted to explain the conditions that may have led to Ostreicher’s freedom, citing a meeting he had with Bolivian President Evo Morales a year ago as an example of the “quiet diplomacy” he and other key officials engaged in on Ostreicher’s behalf.

Richardson also said that in the efforts to bring about Ostreicher’s release, there was “intensive public pressure by many Jewish organizations” that was “very effective.”

“What needs to happen in successful releases is a combination of public pressure and private diplomacy,” Richardson said. “Those combinations in many cases are the roots for success.”

ON Dec. 10, Richardson wrote a letter to President Barack Obama …..

Story continues here: Will Pollard, Gross Follow in Wake of Ostreicher?

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Pollard Lobby Over The Top – Just Ask Alan Gross 2

By Intermountain Jewish News (IJN) Editorial Staff

Listening to the endless special pleading on behalf of Jonathan Pollard, one would think he was an innocent man, wrongly accused, wrongly convicted, wrongly imprisoned. In fact, Pollard spied against his country. If his sentence is excessive, it is clear that the reason is the US wants to make an example out of him, to send a message to Israel: Don’t look your gift horse in the mouth again.

If Pollard’s sentence is excessive, it is matched, and more than matched, by the incessant lobbying on his behalf by countless Jewish organizations, whose statements acknowledging the seriousness of Pollard’s crime are weak and even insincere in this sense: Alongside the acknowledgement of espionage is this disclaimer, “Well, it really wasn’t so bad, since Pollard was, after all, only spying for an ally.” As if it were guaranteed that the information Pollard supplied to Israel never ended up in the hands of America’s worst enemy at the time, the USSR. The pro-Pollard lobbying efforts have the effect of crying wolf. When a genuinely innocent American Jew is imprisoned, who in the upper echelons of the US government is listening hard enough to do anything on behalf of Alan Gross?

Gross is wrongly accused, wrongly convicted and wrongly imprisoned by Cuba. Gross’ crime, such as it was, was to show the local Jewish community how to use computers; and this, while Gross was under contract with the US Agency on International Development. Gross was not spying against the US or, for that matter, against Cuba. He was an innocent expert doing his job for the US, neither intending nor effecting any harm against Cuba.

Meanwhile, Gross is suffering medically, he is denied medical care, he is wasting away. He is worthy of our outrage, our protests, our demands for his freedom. He is living a nightmare, as is his family. He deserves to be released. And our voices deserve to be heard. They are, we fear, drowned out by the Pollard lobbying, which has this effect: Here come American  Jews again, seeking benefits for one of their own — one who doesn’t deserve it.

Choose your battles wisely.