WASHINGTON (JTA) — The U.S. Navy reversed its decision to deny security clearance to a dentist because of his family in Israel.
The Navy informed Gershon Pincus of its reversal on Jan. 7, the Albany Times Union reported Thursday.
Pincus, 62, told the newspaper he was “overjoyed.” He commutes 400 miles one day a week from his New York City home to Saratoga Springs, New York, where he treats sailors serving at the nearby U.S. nuclear submarine propulsion program.
Pincus had initially been denied clearance because of his weekly phone contact with his mother and brother in Israel.
“Foreign contacts and interests may be a security concern due to divided loyalties or foreign financial interests, may be manipulated or induced to help a foreign person, group, organization or government in a way that is not in U.S. interests, or is vulnerable to pressure or coercion by foreign interests,” said the statement of reasons released to Pincus by the Office of Personnel Management.
Pincus appealed, and at least three Jewish organizations – the Orthodox Union, Agudath Israel of America and the American Jewish Committee – spoke out on his behalf.
The O.U. on Friday welcomed the reversal. “We are pleased to see that the Pentagon corrected its wrongful decision to assert Dr. Pincus has divided loyalties just because he is an American Jew with family in Israel,” Nathan Diament, who heads the O.U.’s Washington office, said in a statement. “We encourage the Obama Administration to review the security clearance process so that such cases do not arise in the future.”
Denial of security clearance to Jews with relatives in Israel has been reported for decades, although it seems to be applied randomly, with some applicants denied and others sailing through. In recent years, Jewish community professionals and Jews with ties to the security services have said that the practice has eased.
Lawyers who specialize in appealing denials of security clearance say Muslims are much more likely than Jews to be denied security clearance, including those whose families live in countries allied with the United States.