On ‘dual loyalties’

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In the aftermath of Wednesday’s attack on CIA personnel in Gaza, the US announced that the FBI would conduct a thorough investigation of the bombing. One can only hope that in conducting the investigation the FBI agents will avail themselves of the knowledge and know-how of the Israeli military forces in the area who are best equipped to help them discover which Palestinian terrorists are responsible for the murder of US officials.



One would hope that this is the case, but given the FBI’s recent track record with Jews, there is little certainty that this will be the case.


Last week WorldNetDaily reported that in a seeminly systematic manner, the FBI has rejected Jewish Arabic speakers’ applications to serve as translators for the bureau. According to a report, when, in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks the FBI made a public call for Arabic speakers to apply for positions as translators, over 90 Sephardic Jews from New York submitted their applications. Many of these applicants had prior professional experience working for Israeli radio in Arabic and serving as linguists in the IDF. The overwhelming majority of these American Jews spoke Arabic as a mother tongue.


Repeatedly since the September 11 attacks, US law enforcement, military and intelligence agencies have bemoaned the fact that they are unable to translate all the Arabic data they have gathered because they lack a sufficient number of Arabic linguists.


The FBI has offered no official comment on its rejection of the Jews. Sources familiar with the FBI’s vetting process have claimed that the sense was that the Jews “were too close to Israel” and might not translate documents in an objective manner. A former FBI official I spoke with on the issue said that he could not dismiss at face value the idea that perceived loyalty to Israel would in fact cause a Jew to be rejected by the FBI.


This barring of Jews from contributing to the US war against Islamic terrorism for fear that they have dual loyalties with Israel, an allied country fighting a war against Islamic terrorism, is distressing on many levels.


Over the past month, the US has been wracked by scandal as Muslim military and civilian personnel working at the military prison at Guantanamo Bay where hundreds of Al Qaida terrorists are being held, were arrested on suspicion of committing espionage for Al Qaida and Syria.


Two weeks ago, the Muslim American responsible for bringing Muslim chaplains into the US military and for vetting and accrediting candidates for Islamic chaplaincy positions in the US military was arrested on terrorism related charges. Abdulrahman Alamoudi was up until his arrest a darling of the FBI and the Pentagon. Last year, in the face of public protests, FBI Director Robert Mueller spoke at Alamoudi’s American Muslim Council’s annual dinner. FBI spokesmen have referred to the AMC as “the most mainstream Muslim group in the US.”


And yet, Alamoudi has publicly expressed support for Hizballah and Hamas. The director of the AMC, Eric Vickers refused on a television interview to acknowledge that Al Qaida is a terrorist organization. Alamoudi has said repeatedly to Muslim audiences that the goal of Muslims in America is to turn the US into an Islamic state.


Aside from the AMC, many of the other organizations that Alamoudi led, founded or has been an active member of have been raided in federal counterterrorism probes. These groups include Mercy International; the Fiqh Council of North America; the Success Foundation; the United Association for Studies and Research and the Talibah International Aid Foundation.


But, concerned about dual loyalties of Jews for Israel and the US, the FBI has preferred to aggressively recruit Alamoudi’s Muslim American associates as linguists and rejected the applications of nearly one hundred Jews whose mother tongue is Arabic, who were born and raised in Arab states and are therefore as familiar as Alamoudi’s associates are with the cultural contexts of language.


The same WorldNetDaily article alleged that the FBI was averse to hiring Jews for fear of alienating the American Arab community (of which it views the Alamoudi a respected leader). The article gave no evidence that this was the case, but it is not an unreasonable supposition given US actions in other spheres. 



US actions in Iraq for example, lead ineluctably to the conclusion that portions of the US government believe that Arabs who support terrorism against Israel and hate Jews can still be trusted to fight terrorism against the US.


Most glaring in this vein is the example of Sabah al-Imam, a member of the US appointed Iraqi Governing Council. This week al-Imam participated in the meeting the Arab League’s Damascus based Israel boycott committee on behalf of US-occupied Iraq. While in Damascus, al-Imam stated that post-Saddam Iraq would not enable any commerce with Israel.



There was no reason for the Iraqi Governing Council to feel it necessary to send an emissary to the conference. Egypt didn't. Neither did Jordan. Iraq expert Amatzia Baram, of the US Institute of Peace referred to the participation of a member of the Iraqi Governing Council at the meeting as “a travesty.”


In Baram’s view, “It is a complete outrage that he went to Damascus, which is a center for anti-American and anti-Israel extremism and violence. What it means is that Iraq under US occupation is reverting to its foreign policy under Saddam Hussein. This move constitutes the bankrupting of the entire US operation in Iraq.”


Baram sees a straight line between economic warfare which the boycott constitutes and military warfare. He explains that sending a representative to Syria “signals that the new Iraq will also send its army to fight wars against Israel just like the old one did. It is one thing, in the absence of a peace agreement for the Iraqis to bar Israelis from doing business in the country. It is quite another for them to make such an announcement at a meeting of the boycott conference in Syria.”


At the end of World War II, the US set out to de-Nazify Germany. This involved not only arresting and trying Nazis and barring Nazi sympathizers from positions of power. It also involved telling the German people that the entire Nazi world view that started and ended with hating and killing Jews was morally reprehensible and wrong.


Today, the US is on a path of de-Ba’athifying Iraq. And while high ranking Ba’athists are being rounded up and arrested and party supporters are being kept from positions of power, the US is doing nothing to tell the Iraqis to stop believing in one of the central organizing principles of Ba’athism – Jew hating.


In an editorial in Al-Safeer, one of the new independent Iraqi newspapers, (translated by MEMRI), the editorialist, made a plea to Iraqis not to allow the break up of the country along ethnic lines. Such a break-up, he wrote, “is what the Zionists want.”


The truth is that we Zionists don’t really care what happens so long as Iraq after Saddam doesn’t re-join the Arab campaign to destroy Israel.


The US is trying something revolutionary in Iraq. It is attempting to bring openness and freedom and democracy to a country that has known none of these things and is surrounded by other countries that fear all of these things. But if the new Iraqi national identity is based on the old Iraqi anti-Semitism then the attempt is destined to fail. If the Iraqis after Saddam can find no better reason to keep the country together than the need to stay unified to fight Israel then maybe there is no reason to lift a finger to prevent its break-up. If hating Israel is the core of the Iraqi national identity then that identity is undesirable.


By the same token, trying to bring r
adical Muslim groups into the American mainstream without demanding that they shed their anti-Semitism first just feeds the beast of hatred that engenders situations like that at Guantanamo Bay and leads to distorted, perverse policies like the FBI’s decision not to hire Jews as Arabic linguists.


Wednesday’s Palestinian terror attack on the CIA employees in Gaza yet again made clear that the same forces are at war against both US and Israel. This alone should signal clearly to all concerned that there is no reason to worry about the so-called dual loyalties of Sephardic American Jews. These loyalties are not in conflict. They are identical.


American Jews are victims of reprehensible bigotry when the FBI refuses their applications for service because it believes that as Jews they will be less equipped to fight America and Israel’s common enemies as Americans. At the same time, America's attempt to enlist what it believes is the "moderate Muslim leadership" in the war on terror is fraught with risk.



In people such as the Sephardic Arabic speakers whose applications were apparently rejected by the FBI, the US has a valuable store of human capital for its war on terror. Better it be used than squandered for the sake of pandering to radical Arab groups.

In Iraq the stakes are just as high. By tolerating anti-Semitic and anti-Israel attitudes in Iraq, the US is courting disaster. Because what else would you call a US-appointed Iraqi regime that declares war on Israel?


Originally published in The Jerusalem Post.

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