The start of Chanukah brought the welcome news that Alan Gross was returning to the United States from Cuba, where he had been held in deteriorating health for five years.
B'nai B'rith International expressed relief that he would be reunited with his family and gratitude to the administration for facilitating the high-level negotiations necessary to bring him back to the United States.
The statement was featured in a number of publications, including the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, The Jewish Journal, the New Jersey Jewish News, Foreign Relations. A separate interview with B'nai B'rith International Director of Latin American Affairs Eduardo Kohn appeared in the Jerusalem Post.
Read a recap of the media coverage, below:
Daniel Mariaschin, who directs B'nai B'rith International, a group with a strong Latin American presence, said a new era of ties "will raise the profile of Latin American communities and interest in those communities."
Obama insisted that Gross was not part of the spy exchange and that, in fact, his imprisonment held up changes to the U.S. Cuba relationship he had intended on initiating years ago.
"While I've been prepared to take additional steps for some time, a major obstacle stood in our way," the president said, referring to Gross' "wrongful imprisonment."
JTA Article Also Ran In:
NJJN Article Also Ran In:
B’nai B’rith International warmly welcomes, and is relieved by the news of, Alan Gross’ release from a Cuban prison after five years.
The United States and Cuban governments announced this morning that Gross will be returned to America in exchange for three Cubans jailed in Florida.
Gross was arrested in 2009 while working to set up Internet access for the Cuban-Jewish community as a contractor for the U.S. Agency for International Development.
B’nai B’rith is grateful for the efforts of the Administration and all those who assisted in facilitating the high-level discussions leading to Gross’ release.
We are thinking of Gross, his family and his friends on the occasion of his release, especially coming during the holiday of Chanukah.
Jewish groups, ecstatic over the release of the suburban Washington resident, were cautiously optimistic in greeting news of the thaw.
Daniel Mariaschin, who directs B’nai B’rith International, a group with a strong Latin American presence, said a new era of ties “will raise the profile of Latin American communities and interest in those communities.”
Cuban security arrested Gross in December 2009, sending a strong message to the U.S. government and collecting a bargaining chip to help in negotiations over Cuba’s biggest grievance with Washington: the 1998 arrest in Miami of the “Cuban Five,” spies convicted of contributing to the deaths of four Americans.
It is likely that Gross was targeted because he is Jewish—not out of anti-Semitism, but because his identity would make him a more valuable asset during negotiations.
Soon after Gross was jailed, a campaign to win his release took shape. The American Jewish Committee, the Anti-Defamation League, B’nai B’rith International, the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington, the Jewish Community Relations Council, and the Orthodox Union all played a role.