Friends of jailed USAID contractor Alan Gross who are pulling for his release want the Obama Administration to consider negotiating for his release, perhaps with some concessions regarding the Cuban Five that would fall short of a five-for-one swap.
That message emerged after Gross used his weekly phone call to speak with Washington-area Jewish leaders. See stories from the Jewish Telegraphic Agency and the Baltimore Sun.
The Administration continues to assert that Gross’ arrest and conviction were unfounded, the Cuban legal system is a sham, he should be released unconditionally, and there will be no negotiation because his activities in Cuba and those of the Cuban agents here are not comparable.
Ronald Halber of Washington’s Jewish Community Relations Council says the Administration should act in our “national interest.” He is starting a good debate; even if one buys all the Administration’s arguments, it’s hard to see how its position helps get Mr. Gross out of jail.
Meanwhile, the Jewish Exponent reports on the visit to the United States of Mayra Levy, head of Havana’s Sephardic synagogue, who encourages American Jews to visit. From the story: “Levy said the community received Gross warmly. ‘But he broke the Cuban laws,’ she said, adding that members of the community visit Gross from time to time.”