Prisoner X Case Raises Ugly Issue of 'Dual Loyalty' for Australia Jews

Concern for Down Under Jews as Israel Spy Drama Unfolds

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By JTA

Published February 20, 2013.
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In Australia, the case has prompted some to ask whether the country’s Jews are loyal to Israel at the expense of their home country.

“At what point does loyalty to Israel become disloyalty to Australia?” Joseph Wakim, a founder of the Australian Arabic Council, wrote Wednesday on the Online Opinion political website. Wakim pointed to the Birthright Israel program, which provides free trips to Israel for young Diaspora Jews, as one example of the “indoctrination of Australian dual citizens into Israeli identity.”

Zygier was himself a graduate of the Zionist Hashomer Hatzair youth movement and later served in the Israeli army.

Ben Saul, a professor of international law at the University of Sydney, wrote online on Wednesday, “There comes a point where a Jewish person cannot faithfully be both Australian and Israeli. One has to choose.”

Antony Loewenstein, a Jew who is staunchly critical of Israel, accused Jews in an Australian Broadcasting Corp. radio interview of dual loyalties and suggested that Jewish schools encourage kids to fight in the Israel Defense Forces, which may result in them “sometimes joining” Mossad.

The president of the Zionist Federation of Australia, Philip Chester, blasted as “totally uninformed and mischievous” claims that Zionist programs in Israel serve as recruitment camps for the Mossad.

“Contrary to the assertions of these commentators, these programs are aimed at educating Jewish youth about their heritage and about contemporary Israel, and have nothing to do with recruiting people for intelligence organizations,” Chester said in a statement.

Writing in Galus Australis, an online Jewish magazine, dual Israeli-Australian citizen Yaron Gottlieb said he has “complete loyalty” to both countries but that “Australian Jews cannot have it both ways.”

“If we as a community feel uncomfortable with, for example, a Jordanian-Australian fighting on behalf of the Jordanian government to the extent that we would want such service banned, we cannot expect service to Israel to avoid criticism,” he wrote.

Ordinary Australians “will now be wondering about every Australian Jew and where our loyalties really lie: What proportion of Australian Jews sacrifice their passports to the Israeli government if asked?”

For its part, Zygier’s family has tried to tamp down any discussion of Zygier’s personal and professional lives.


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