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Commerce warns U.S. agencies: Don’t discriminate against Jews

WASHINGTON, March 3 (JTA) — U.S. federal agencies and their contractors received a high-level warning this week: Don’t discriminate against Jews. The shot across the bow came as the Commerce Department levied fines against officials from the U.S. Justice Department, the U.S. Air Force and CACI Inc., a private defense contractor, for a 1991 federal contract that explicitly excluded Jews. The case dates back to 1991, when CACI won an Air Force contract to microfilm documents in Saudi Arabia. During a meeting with Air Force and Justice Department personnel, CACI submitted an operations plan that, in part, said, “No Jews or Jewish surnamed personnel will be sent as part of the Document Acquisition Team because of the cultural differences between Muslims and Jews in the region.” The plan, which was later edited by a Justice Department paralegal, also said, “No Israeli-stamped passport, as per Saudi rules.” In late 1995, the Anti-Defamation League received a complaint from an individual who felt he was excluded from the contract. The ADL forwarded its information to the Commerce Department office that deals with the Arab boycott of Israel. Last week, the Commerce Department settled charges by levying fines against the three individuals involved in the 1991 contract meetings. As in most such cases, the issue was settled without admission of guilt. The department waived payment of all fines except for $15,000 against the CACI official. “These government agencies should never have approved this noxious and objectionable behavior,” said Abraham Foxman, ADL’s national director. “The actions taken by the Commerce Department should put all federal agencies on notice of the need to take proactive measures to ensure that discriminatory practices are avoided.” Both Secretary of Defense William Cohen and Attorney General Janet Reno planned to distribute memos to their respective agencies, warning against such discriminatory policies.

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