Many Americans with ties to Israel have been denied security clearances necessary to work for the Defense Department or the United States military, Bret Stephens of The Wall Street Journal reported (Google link) on Wednesday.
Stephens reported on the case of Gershon Pincus, a dentist, who after 35 years in private practice started a second career as a dentist for the Navy as a way “to assist those who have chosen to serve in the United States military.” In October of 2014 Pincus underwent an interview for a security clearance and mentioned that his mother and two siblings live in Israel, and one of his children had previously served in the Israeli army. He acknowledged that he had visited Israel three times in the previous decade. The security investigation concluded that Pincus was not a security risk.
However, in March of this year the Office of Personnel Management called him back for a follow-up interview in which his ties to Israel were questioned. A few months later, Pincus’ request for a clearance was officially denied, on the grounds that his contact with relatives in Israel “may be a security concern due to divided loyalties or foreign financial interests.”
36 of the 58 petitioners whose clearances were denied on account of ties to Israel since 2009 have had their appeals rejected. During the same time, only one French citizen had his appeal denied and no British citizens had their appeals denied.
American Jews being denied security clearances because of their ties to Israel has been an issue since Navy analyst Jonathan Pollard was convicted in 1987 for passing state secrets to Israel. Since then, according to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, “A number of Jews have long alleged that they hit speed bumps in the American security services, their careers in some cases temporarily obstructed over security clearance questions.”
For others, accusations of espionage based on ties to Israel, however remote, have driven them from their jobs following home raids and round-the-clock surveillance.
Two federal employees — Adam Ciralsky, a CIA lawyer who was investigated in 1999, and David Tenenbaum, a civilian army engineer whose home was raided by the FBI in 1997 — uncovered evidence that they were targeted because they were Jewish.
Ciralsky learned that his distant relationship to Israel’s first and long dead president, Chaim Weizmann, and the fact that his father had purchased Israel Bonds were held against him. Tenenbaum was deemed suspicious in part because he spoke Hebrew even though it was helpful in performing his official duties as a liaison to Israeli counterparts.
[Photo: David B. Gleason / Flickr ]