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B'siyata d'shmaya - With the help of Heaven

Is Uncle Sam Confused?

By Shelomo Alfassa

Israel Insider Magazine Oct. 20, 2005, The Jewish Press October 24, 2005, Israel National News Oct. 26, 2005

Is Uncle Sam Confused?

Some members of the Brooklyn Sephardic community, a large and active community of some 75,000, received a letter in the mail from the United States Marine Corps. The letter, signed by Brigadier General W.E. Gaskin stated that the “United States military is in need of your service.” This letter is obviously part of a recruitment campaign, targeted towards gaining recruits who can help bolster our intelligence gathering abilities related to Iraq and Afghanistan during the ongoing campaign against Islamic terror.

The letter, computer generated and printed on color paper with the Marine Corps logo, said:

“Now is the time to put your unique language skills to the test as a member of the United States Marine Corps. Your command of the Arabic language will be invaluable among the elite few—where you’ll play a pivotal role in communicating with people from Arabic-speaking countries.”

The letter continues with some patriotic wording then closes with “seize this important opportunity…” This letter was mailed into a community that is made up of Jews from Lebanon, Egypt and mostly, Syria. It speaks of patriotism—yet, after 9/11 when Sephardim wanted to apply with the FBI and other law enforcement agencies, they were denied acceptance. Sephardic Arabic speakers whose applications were apparently rejected by the FBI in 2002 and 2003, were caught in the cross fire of the plague of political correctness that has been continually taking over society. While it was reported that 90 Sephardic applicants applied, not one was hired.

In response to this, Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) contacted the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate reports that the FBI denied applications for linguist positions from all Sephardim that applied, he even called on U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft asking him to reconsider the applications. However, although his labors were honorable, nothing materialized. No Jews were hired; there remains a 100% denial rate by the government.

According to published reports, the FBI originally “snubbed the Jewish applicants” because they didn't want to “offend Muslim translators, who would have to work alongside Jews.” When I had first heard this a couple years ago, I responded by showing this was a ridiculous argument, it was like saying, “imagine if during the war against Hitler, Franklin Roosevelt felt that having Jews fight the Nazis might upset the everyday German?” Did FDR pull the tens of thousands of the Jewish soldiers and sailors out of the military, no way.

Questions regarding the national “loyalty” of the applicants also originally surfaced, but this is an absurd notion. Sephardim like all Jews are certainly loyal to their country and always have been. Maybe the FBI forgot Sephardim enlisted when the country was facing its fiercest enemies ever, fighting as patriotic citizens during WWII, remaining just as loyal today. Maybe the FBI doesn’t realize that during the war, the loyal and faithful Syrian Sephardic community helped raise $4,500,000 in War Bonds, so much that not only were they able to purchase a B-17 bomber for the Army Air Corps, but also a ship for the Navy. A loyal Sephardic organization in New York donated so much money, a B-52 bomber was even named in their honor!

So here we are, a few years later and the government is once again coming to the Jewish community seeking Arabic speakers. Of course, there is the chance that they just assume some of the recipients of their recruitment letters are Muslims. Maybe they were sending letters solely by Arabic-style surnames? Yet, while it is a possibility, it is doubtful because one of these Marine Corps recruiting letters (the one in the possession of this writer) was given to him by a man with a clear and distinctive Jewish first name.

So, while the FBI under the Department of Justice is busy screening out Arabic speaking Sephardic Jews, the Department of Defense is busy soliciting them for recruitment. Nothing further needs to be said about this, Uncle Sam’s disorganization speaks for itself. It certainly is worrisome to observe our government and witness that its left hand doesn’t know what its right hand is doing. In addition, it’s sad to see a truly patriotic and loyal body of people turned away from such an important endeavor, one that has the potential to save lives and help end the turmoil we face in the world each day.