Jews Held Abroad Win Very Different Reactions at Home

Freedom for Ostreicher — Others Jailed With Little Sign of Hope


By Nathan Guttman

Published December 26, 2013, issue of December 27, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

(page 2 of 3)

The United States government reached the conclusion that he had been arrested by Iranian intelligence forces, but Tehran has repeatedly denied that it was holding him or had any knowledge of his location.

The Associated Press’s December 12 revelation that Levinson was, in fact, working for the CIA, shed startling new light on the case.

He was on a mission, the AP reported, to investigate financial issues relating to the Iranian regime and was sent there by a CIA analyst who was unauthorized to deploy agents on overseas spying missions.

In Kish, Levinson met with Dawud Salahuddin, an American fugitive wanted for the 1980 killing of an Iranian diplomat in the United States. Levinson disappeared shortly after the meeting. He is now the longest-held American whose capture appears to be connected to work he was doing for the United States government. According to the report, the Levinson family received $2.5 million from the CIA to avoid a lawsuit.

The family, however, still points to the government as being responsible for “abandoning” Levinson in Iran. A spokesman for the Levinson family did not respond to questions from the Forward regarding the case.

Even after it was revealed that Levinson was working for the U.S government in its efforts to curtail the Iranian regime, the Jewish community maintained its distance from the case. An official from a large Jewish organization, who was not authorized to speak on record, said it was “widely understood that our involvement will not help” in advancing Levinson’s release.

In Gross’s case, the mobilization, at least of the local Washington community, was full and continues to provide a significant advocacy voice and support network for the family. It makes a difference, no doubt, that the communist government in Havana, whatever its shortcomings, has no history of anti-Semitism. It has, indeed, maintained quiet, if unofficial relations with Israel for several decades. Jewish groups have not voiced any fear that public knowledge of Gross’s Jewishness could put him in any greater jeopardy.

In addition to all this, Gross was imprisoned by Cuba on charges that he sought to undermine the government by illegally providing the organized Jewish community in Cuba with banned or restricted electronic equipment under a federally funded program that aims to undermine the regime. The equipment would purportedly have enabled community members to evade pervasive government monitoring when accessing the Internet.

For Ostreicher, a Brooklyn entrepreneur, it was mainly the New York Orthodox community that took on his case, while the broader Jewish community remained on the sidelines. Many have seen it as a purely private tragedy that involved unscrupulous local business partners in a local rice-growing enterprise in which Ostreicher had invested. His partners allegedly engaged in fraud and bribery to rob Ostreicher of his investment and get him arrested. But Ostreicher himself has stated that the case does not appear to have involved anti-Semitism — a factor that often trips off communal involvement.


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!
  • "Woody Allen should have quit while he was ahead." Ezra Glinter's review of "Magic in the Moonlight": http://jd.fo/f4Q1Q
  • Jon Stewart responds to his critics: “Look, obviously there are many strong opinions on this. But just merely mentioning Israel or questioning in any way the effectiveness or humanity of Israel’s policies is not the same thing as being pro-Hamas.”
  • "My bat mitzvah party took place in our living room. There were only a few Jewish kids there, and only one from my Sunday school class. She sat in the corner, wearing the right clothes, asking her mom when they could go." The latest in our Promised Lands series — what state should we visit next?
  • Former Israeli National Security Advisor Yaakov Amidror: “A cease-fire will mean that anytime Hamas wants to fight it can. Occupation of Gaza will bring longer-term quiet, but the price will be very high.” What do you think?
  • Should couples sign a pre-pregnancy contract, outlining how caring for the infant will be equally divided between the two parties involved? Just think of it as a ketubah for expectant parents:
  • Many #Israelis can't make it to bomb shelters in time. One of them is Amos Oz.
  • According to Israeli professor Mordechai Kedar, “the only thing that can deter terrorists, like those who kidnapped the children and killed them, is the knowledge that their sister or their mother will be raped."
  • Why does ultra-Orthodox group Agudath Israel of America receive its largest donation from the majority owners of Walmart? Find out here: http://jd.fo/q4XfI
  • Woody Allen on the situation in #Gaza: It's “a terrible, tragic thing. Innocent lives are lost left and right, and it’s a horrible situation that eventually has to right itself.”
  • "Mark your calendars: It was on Sunday, July 20, that the momentum turned against Israel." J.J. Goldberg's latest analysis on Israel's ground operation in Gaza:
  • What do you think?
  • "To everyone who is reading this article and saying, “Yes, but… Hamas,” I would ask you to just stop with the “buts.” Take a single moment and allow yourself to feel this tremendous loss. Lay down your arms and grieve for the children of Gaza."
  • Professor Dan Markel, 41 years old, was found shot and killed in his Tallahassee home on Friday. Jay Michaelson can't explain the death, just grieve for it.
  • Employees complained that the food they received to end the daily fast during the holy month of Ramadan was not enough (no non-kosher food is allowed in the plant). The next day, they were dismissed.
  • Why are peace activists getting beat up in Tel Aviv? http://jd.fo/s4YsG
  • 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.