John Menadue. Australians who fight in overseas wars.

Repost from 02/03/2015

The government has been concerned, as many of us are, about Australians fighting for IS in Syria and Iraq. The government is threatening to revoke the Australian citizenship of dual nationals who involve themselves in this war.

Whether this will be successful is a very moot point. It is asserted by many that prosecution under our existing laws would be much more effective. But a government in trouble about its own security has to be seen to be ‘doing something’, e.g. revoking citizenship.

There are an estimated 100 or so Australian citizens fighting with the IS in Syria and Iraq. That number looks to be increasing.

Estimates suggest also that at least a similar number of dual Australian citizens are fighting with the Israeli Defence Forces. Australians have fought in all of Israel’s wars since 1948.

The Muslim community in Australia has been very critical of Australians who go and fight under the IS flag but rightly asks why Australian citizens are able to fight with the IDF but not with IS. I would have thought that the policy on this matter would be quite clear – that no Australian citizen should be allowed to fight overseas without the approval of the Australian government and if they do they will be prosecuted and if found guilty severely punished.

There are several reasons that our Prime Minister and ASIO have given for the apparent double-standard in treatment of Australian citizens fighting for IS and for IDF. The first is that IS has been described as a terrorist organisation, whereas the IDF has not. Second, fighting with an overseas army of a recognised national state is different. Thirdly, the Israeli’s are not under sanctions so the IDF is a ‘free port for Australian volunteers’ according to the former Director General of ASIO.

If it is maintained that Israel has not been designated as a terrorist state or is under sanctions, it cannot be said that the IDF is not a lethal organisation. In its savage attack on Gaza last year, the IDF made over 5,000 air strikes in which 2,104 people were killed. According to the UN estimates, 69% of persons killed in Gaza were civilians. The Israeli’s lost 67 soldiers and six civilians.

Where is the balance and logic in the way successive Australian governments have favoured Israel in so many ways? One thing stands out very much; the power of the Israeli lobby in so many countries including our own.


John Menadue is the publisher of Pearls & Irritations. He has had a distinguished career both in the private sector and in the Public Service.

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2 Responses to John Menadue. Australians who fight in overseas wars.

  1. Avatar John McCarthy says:

    Reflecting on this, the policy is unlikely to affect many people , but is silly
    Apart from what JM says,it could logically mean if we want to deny citizenship, the other country whose nationality is shared has to take these poisonous clowns.Many of these countries are our allies against ISIS — hardly collegial behaviour, Second, whatever we say,we are creating two classes of australian citizens, those that have dual citizenship and those that do not .. This may be news to the(about) 4 million Australians in the former category and does not sit well with our status as country of Immigration, a status incidentally upon which our prosperity and indeed security is founded .

  2. Avatar Bruce Cameron says:

    On 31 July 2002, the Chief of the Australian Defence Force (now Governor General) stated that “we probably should not have gone”. He was referring to Australia’s commitment to the defence of South Vietnam. It is, of course, the Government of the day, who decides whether or not Australian forces should be deployed on active service. The CDF should probably have said that “we probably should not have been sent”. It is really a matter of individual consciousness as to who participates in a conflict and for what reason; the justifiability of which is mandated by the Government

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