Thursday, May 17, 2012

Wake Up Call: It’s Not Enough to Feel Sorry for Jacob Ostreicher

On the phone moments ago with Jacob Ostreicher

It’s difficult to write anything after having just hung up with Jacob Ostreicher. But I feel it’s important to share this conversation—and that you share it, too. Not just with members of our community but with everyone.

Jacob Ostreicher has been deteriorating in a Bolivian prison for nearly one year without being charged with a crime. There’s so much more to his story than meets the eye.

The fact that Jacob can take an occasional phone call while imprisoned should not imply any comfort on his part. Jacob can receive an occasional call if he pays for it. Just like he has a room to sleep in because he pays for it. If he didn’t, he’d sleep on the streets.

The prison Jacob is in is unlike anything most Americans can imagine. There are no rules. There are no guards. Prisoners live in a fenced-in community of prisoners—drug smugglers, murderers, rapists—everyone thrown together behind a wall where the inmates run the community. Hard to believe, I know, but watch ABC’s “Nightline” feature on Jacob’s plight and you’ll see what it’s like there. Nevertheless, no amount of excellent reportage can portray what Jacob Ostreicher is living in. 

“Gehenom,” he called it in our conversation. “A living hell.”

I could hear the despair in Jacob’s voice. He’s been on a hunger strike for too long and this once strong and healthy man is down to 115 lbs. Is the Bolivian government aware of his condition? Do they care?
The answer is we must make them care. And we can only do that by demonstrating how much we care.

I care. And I’m making sure that my fellow lawmakers care, too. We need momentum and we need voices that the Bolivian government will listen to. But it starts with all of us. And time is of the essence. Jacob told me that he fears for his life. I fear for it, too.

Please help us. Imagine for one moment that this is your innocent father or brother or husband or grandfather. Here’s what you can do:

  • Sign the petition
  • Ask your shul or place of worship to immediately send out an email or newsletter blast telling people where and how to sign the petition.
  • Use any social media at your disposal to make people aware of Jacob Ostreicher’s plight.
  • Contact your elected officials including the White House and demand justice for Jacob Ostreicher.
  • Pray for Jacob Ostreicher’s safe and speedy release from prison.

Please. Raise your voice for Jacob Ostreicher before it’s too late.

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