Family Faults Obama Inaction as Alan Gross Marks Four Years in Cuban Prison

American Jewish Contractor Held For 'Subversive Activity'

Marking Four Years of Imprisonment: At a December 3 demonstration across the street from the White House, activists call for the release of Alan Gross.
Nathan Guttman
Marking Four Years of Imprisonment: At a December 3 demonstration across the street from the White House, activists call for the release of Alan Gross.

By Nathan Guttman

Published December 05, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

The chants of “Free Alan Gross!” were unlikely to reach the ears of President Barack Obama in the Oval Office. But the gathering of several dozen activists outside the White House — on the fourth anniversary of the arrest of the Jewish American contractor in Cuba — highlighted a tactical shift in the movement for his release.

Once focused angrily on Cuban leader Fidel Castro, family members, supporters and Jewish activists today point to President Obama and his administration as the ones who have failed Alan Gross, leaving him to molder in a Cuban prison.

“It is up to our government to secure his release,” said Gross’s wife, Judy Gross at the December 3 protest. Standing across the road from the White House, Judy Gross listed the family milestones her husband had missed in his four-year imprisonment. “Imagine how he felt a few months ago when he couldn’t walk his daughter down the aisle,” she told the crowd made up of local politicians, supporters and members of the Washington Jewish community. “President Obama, imagine it was one of your daughters.”

Alan Gross himself, in a letter sent from his prison cell last week, made clear he was disappointed with his government’s treatment of his case. “Mr. President, please, please assure my family and me you will do whatever is necessary to get me out of this hell,” Gross wrote in a letter that was read aloud by his wife. “I’m fired up and ready to go, please do whatever it takes to keep this fire from being extinguished.”

In the past, the gatherings marking the anniversaries of Gross’s arrest were somber, but this year’s carried a tone of frustration. The lack of national interest in the Gross case, a failure to mobilize the public on the issue, and mainly, a sense that the Obama administration is ignoring possible openings from Havana, have all fueled the growing anger at the U.S. government.

“The U.S. has said it will not sit down if there are preconditions, but now the Cubans are not asking for any preconditions and our government still won’t sit down with them,” said Scott Gilbert, an attorney representing the Gross family.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • “The Black community was resistant to the Jewish community coming into the neighborhood — at first.” Watch this video about how a group of gardeners is rebuilding trust between African-Americans and Jews in Detroit.
  • "I am a Jewish woman married to a non-Jewish man who was raised Catholic, but now considers himself a “common-law Jew.” We are raising our two young children as Jews. My husband's parents are still semi-practicing Catholics. When we go over to either of their homes, they bow their heads, often hold hands, and say grace before meals. This is an especially awkward time for me, as I'm uncomfortable participating in a non-Jewish religious ritual, but don't want his family to think I'm ungrateful. It's becoming especially vexing to me now that my oldest son is 7. What's the best way to handle this situation?" http://jd.fo/b4ucX What would you do?
  • Maybe he was trying to give her a "schtickle of fluoride"...
  • It's all fun, fun, fun, until her dad takes the T-Bird away for Shabbos.
  • "Like many Jewish people around the world, I observed Shabbat this weekend. I didn’t light candles or recite Hebrew prayers; I didn’t eat challah or matzoh ball soup or brisket. I spent my Shabbat marching for justice for Eric Garner of Staten Island, Michael Brown of Ferguson, and all victims of police brutality."
  • Happy #NationalDogDay! To celebrate, here's a little something from our archives:
  • A Jewish couple was attacked on Monday night in New York City's Upper East Side. According to police, the attackers flew Palestinian flags.
  • "If the only thing viewers knew about the Jews was what they saw on The Simpsons they — and we — would be well served." What's your favorite Simpsons' moment?
  • "One uncle of mine said, 'I came to America after World War II and I hitchhiked.' And Robin said, 'I waited until there was a 747 and a kosher meal.'" Watch Billy Crystal's moving tribute to Robin Williams at last night's #Emmys:
  • "Americans are much more focused on the long term and on the end goal which is ending the violence, and peace. It’s a matter of zooming out rather than debating the day to day.”
  • "I feel great sorrow about the fact that you decided to return the honor and recognition that you so greatly deserve." Rivka Ben-Pazi, who got Dutchman Henk Zanoli recognized as a "Righteous Gentile," has written him an open letter.
  • Is there a right way to criticize Israel?
  • From The Daily Show to Lizzy Caplan, here's your Who's Jew guide to the 2014 #Emmys. Who are you rooting for?
  • “People at archives like Yad Vashem used to consider genealogists old ladies in tennis shoes. But they have been impressed with our work on indexing documents. Now they are lining up to work with us." This year's Jewish Genealogical Societies conference took place in Utah. We got a behind-the-scenes look:
  • What would Maimonides say about Warby Parker's buy-one, give-one charity model?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.