Shalom Life | July 31, 2014

Sean Penn Makes Appeal on Behalf of Haredi Businessman

Actor Comes Out in Support of Jacob Ostreicher

By: David Shear

Published: May 21st, 2013 in Culture » Society » News

Sean Penn Makes Appeal on Behalf of Haredi Businessman

The former Mr. Madonna, Sean Penn, is arguably one of the finest American actors working today.

But Penn, who played a hands-on role helping the victims of Haiti’s 7.0 magnitude 2010 earthquake that devastated Port-au-Prince and killed an estimated 220,000 is also a well known and well respected social activist.

And Penn is back in the news for all the right reasons again these days as he has taken a personal interest in a decidedly Jewish story.

On May 20th, Penn personally attended a congressional hearing on behalf of an Orthodox man from Brooklyn currently being detained in Bolivia under house arrest.

The man in question in Jacob Ostreicher, a 54-year-old haredi father of five, had invested money in a rice-growing business in Bolivia and, while he was there recently to have a look at how his business venture was developing, he was arrested on suspicion of being involved with drug traffickers and money launderers.

And, despite any real evidence implicating Ostreicher, and the fact that 13 of his accusers are now in prison themselves, he’s already been held in Bolivia for more than two years.

Penn told a House Foreign Affairs subcommittee that Ostreicher is in danger because his Bolivian enemies want to kill him.

“I believe Jacob’s life is in danger as we sit here today,” the film star, an Oscar winner for “Dead Man Walking,” said.

During his address, Penn urged Congress to write letters of support for Ostreicher to sponsors of the Dakar Rally motorcycle race which, in 2014, will go through Bolivia. Penn also addressed the horrible living conditions the man has had to endure in prison, which he said: “receives a delivery of body bags to the front gate on a weekly basis and feeds it’s prisoners 18-cents worth of mulchy broth twice daily from a trough.”

“As an actor, I have been in good movies and bad ones. I have never seen a worse movie, nor more arch-villainy on such a caricturish or humanly diabolical level as I witnessed in that court room,” Penn said, referring to when Ostreicher was removed from prison and put under house arrest approximately five months ago.


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