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Use of "SS" Symbol, Innocent Intent?

A picture, showing Marine troops gathered around an "SS" symbol imprinted on a flag, sparks outrage in Jewish community.
By Rachel Hirshfeld
First Publish: 2/13/2012, 4:57 PM

A photo of Marine troops in Afghanistan has caused outrage among leading U.S. Jewish organizations.

The picture shows troops crowded around an “SS,” in the shape of lightening bolts, imprinted on a blue flag, which is positioned below an American flag.

Jewish groups contend that the use of the “SS” symbol was malicious in nature and was clearly intended to symbolize Hitler’s Nazi party.

Secretary of Defense, Leon Panetta asked the Marine Corps to “look into” the incident, CBS News reported.

Marine sources, however, say that the imprint of the “SS” was merely aimed at signifying sniper scouts and, therefore, do not intend to prosecute those involved.  

Rabbi Marvin Hier, founder of Los Angeles’ Simon Wiesenthal Center, told CBS News that he does not believe the use of the “SS” symbol was an “innocent mistake and insisted the American public has a right to know what happened.”

“That 70 years after the United States Armed Forces helped liberate Europe from Nazi Germany, to learn that a unit of the United States Marine Corps serving in Afghanistan adopted the SS insignia alongside the Stars and Stripes, desecrates the memory of some 200,000 Americans who gave up their lives to defend freedom against that infamous symbol," Hier said.

Mikey Weinstein of the Military Religious Foundation said that his organization beseeched the head of the Marine Corps, Gen. James Amos and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta to "condemn this stomach-turning display without equivocation or delay and severely punish all of those responsible."

He went on to say, "This shameful display of SS 'lightning bolts' by U.S. service personnel enrages our regional allies, emboldens the extremist Islamist forces with whom we are contending, and eviscerates good order, morale, and discipline within the U.S. Marine Corps," CBS News reported.