Anyone from an old Australian family can talk about our relatives and I am no exception. The contributions they made to the advancement and defence of our country, in peace time and in war, and the sacrifices they made. Common decency forbids it. One thing is for sure. I'll match my family's record, and that of Australian Jewry in general, with that of AFR international editor, and all round scum bag Tony Walker, any day of the week and any hour of the day.
Right now the Australian military is actively recruiting specialist officers and others in Britain from the Royal Navy and Air Force made redundant by defence cuts. That in itself should tell you something about the British commitment to the defence of humankind. Let alone Britons.
How many Brits and New Zealanders are there in our armed forces and for that matter in the security and intelligence agencies? I would argue that Australian interests have less in common with Britain than with say, the US and Canada, and that Australian foreign and defense policies are less aligned with either Britain or New Zealand and that has been the case ever since the Kiwis tore up their part of ANZUS and decided the best policy for them was to bludge off us.
For that matter the Israelis are as well. Can the the Israelis help in this filthy war? Answer the question yourself.
So we shun them. Treat them as aliens as if they are enemies of our state. As if their enemies are not our enemies. Are we insane?
Are these British recruits refused Australian passports? Would anybody have the unmitigated gall to accuse these serving officers of suspect loyalties?
I will tell you something else that is true. Anyone who wants to question my loyalty as an Australian had better do it from a distance. Because I'll come looking for you. Something else. I have never felt more like a stranger in my own country than I do right now.
This week, public discourse over the Zygier affair in Australia has reached a fever pitch, this time over Dreyfus-style allegations about the “dual loyalties” of Jewish Australians. The neutral-sounding phrase, which at on first hearing could apply to people of any ethnic or national origin, in practice acts as a canard almost exclusively and reflexively leveled at Jews.
Implying disloyalty is a convenient − and familiar − way to impugn the integrity of Diaspora Jews. It attacks their very identity. There are legitimate, substantive questions about dual Australian-Israel citizen Ben Zygier’s treatment by the Israelis and his alleged use of an Australian passport for foreign intelligence purposes. These questions, far from being unanswerable, ought to be separated, unpacked, and dealt with. But Zygier isn’t alleged to have worked to undermine Australian interests abroad. Working for a foreign army or intelligence service does not contravene Australian law.
While the Australian security service (ASIO) and the Mossad have been embarrassed by the story, the apoplectic reaction from certain elements in the Australian media would drive anyone to believe Zygier had stolen nuclear codes and defected to North Korea. Clearly the Mossad has no monopoly on the use of foreign passports for espionage, but it seems clear that because it’s the Mossad and not the CIA, and because Zygier was a Jew, that the affair has been referred to in terms of a “betrayal” or “double dealing.” The sheer vindictiveness of these accusations brings us to the broader charge of “dual loyalty” against Jewish Australians and other Diaspora Jews.
First, Zygier is one man, and whatever he did or did not do should not be used to impugn the loyalty of all Jews. Jewish Australians are among Australia’s most loyal citizens. They love their country, and regard their Australian identity with deep pride. That is why the blanket intimation of disloyalty made by the Australian Financial Review’s international editor, Tony Walker, stings: “Australian passport holders who enjoy the privileges of citizenship might reflect on the sacrifices made on their behalf over the years by those who fought and died for the country in various conflicts.”
This suggestion of a purely instrumental view of citizenship without duties intentionally ignores the contributions of Jewish Anzacs (Australia and New Zealand Army Corps soldiers in World War I) and other Jewish Australians who served in the country’s other wars. Like Gregory Sher, a Jewish Australian soldier killed recently in Afghanistan. Many of these unquestionably loyal Australians were no doubt also great supporters of the Jewish state.
Although this should suffice, for some it is still not enough. Suspicions unlikely to be aired against Australians of French, Greek, British or American extraction have been aired openly and vigorously against Australian Jews. Indeed, one opinion writer has gone so far as to write: “A Jewish person can’t faithfully be Australian and Israeli,” but a week previously, he wrote that “Many Australians would not be alarmed if Australians were serving in Britain’s MI6 or America’s CIA, or with other allies.”
A simmering suspicion of Jews, and especially of pro-Israel Jews, remains. The dual loyalty canard always contains elements of anti-Semitism. The accusers are often from among a certain class of estranged Jews who seek to loudly “prove” their loyalty to their adoptive country by casting suspicion on other Jews’ loyalty. But you only have to read the online reader feedback − much of it so hateful it beggars belief − to observe how the basest elements in society have responded to the Judeophobia of the “dual loyalty” mob.
It is simply un-Australian to query the loyalty of a group of citizens on the basis of their ethno-religious/national affiliation. And it should be truly unacceptable to attack all Jewish Australians on the basis of the alleged actions of just one man. Without marginalizing these views, we are incapable of dealing with the substantive issues of the Zygier case in the serious, rational way it deserves.
Gabriel Sassoon was a campaign coordinator for the Labor Party in the last election and served as public affairs director for Advancing Human Rights, a New York-based NGO. He is Australian and lives in Tel Aviv.