The best line in this terrific Front Page piece by Paul Sperry is the last: Shelomo Alfassa, vice president of the Foundation for the Advancement of Sephardic Studies and Culture in New York, says: “Imagine if during the war against Hitler, Franklin D. Roosevelt felt that having Jews fight the Nazis might upset the everyday German?”
But that’s what’s happening in the war on terror: Jews (and people from other dhimmi communities whom I know personally) have been having trouble getting jobs for which they are eminently qualified.
Says Sperry: “A few weeks after Islamic terrorists toppled the World Trade Center, two FBI agents from the New York field office paid a visit to a Sephardic Jewish community center in Brooklyn. Their mission: recruit Arabic linguists to help interpret interviews and intercepts of Osama bin Laden’s network.
“Sephardic Jews have lived in Arab countries and know the language, not to mention the culture and history of the region. And being close to Israel, the main target of Islamic terrorism, they were gung-ho to help the feds fight the war on terrorism here.
“It was a good move, or so most involved thought at the time — and long overdue.
“Federal investigators had missed clues to both the 2001 and 1993 World Trade Center attacks not because they didn’t have them, but because they didn’t know what they had until it was too late. They were buried in a backlog of untranslated wiretaps and documents in Arabic.
“A chronic shortage of Arabic-speaking translators had resulted in an accumulation of thousands of hours of untranslated audiotapes and written material stored in FBI lockers.
“The FBI’s New York field office, at least, knew such delays were no longer acceptable after the 9-11 attack. The bureau’s translators were the key to preventing another homeland strike, but they had to convert Arabic chatter to English faster. That meant hiring a lot more translators as quickly as possible.
“So in October 2001, while rescue workers were still pulling remains from Ground Zero, two agents from the FBI’s offices located nearby reached out to local Arabic-speaking Jews to do just that. Agents Carol Motyka and Marsha Parrish met with an official at the Sephardic Bikur Holim, a Jewish social-services agency in Brooklyn.
“At the meeting, Yola Haber, who heads the agency’s employment division, says she agreed to help recruit Arabic-speaking Jews for the bureau. Most of them applied on-line for the translator jobs. All told, she says she referred some 90 applicants, possibly more, to the FBI. They included retired linguists who had experience working for Israeli radio in Arabic and for the Israeli army.
“Remarkably, not one of them was hired.
“‘We sent them a lot of people, and nobody made it to the finish line,’ complained Sephardic Bikur Holim director Doug Balin. ‘Not one person was found eligible for these jobs, which is outrageous.’
“Instead, the FBI hired dozens of Arab-American Muslims as translators.”