Australia’s army has come under fire twice in the last week for the racist behavior of soldiers.
On Monday, the Australian newspaper published leaked e-mails circulated among Australian Defense Force officers that slur Jews, Aborigines and people of Lebanese descent.
“Your commander,” one e-mail stated, “may in fact be either too drunk already or Jewish. You are not to back away unless a Leb is calling reinforcements on his mobile.”
Another e-mail suggested it would be humorous if soldiers pretended to Aborigines that they were Ku Klux Klan members, the newspaper reported.
The leaked e-mails came one week after a video surfaced on the popular video-sharing Web site YouTube showing an ADF soldier binge drinking while dressed as a Klansman. The video, which has been removed from the Internet, was shot about three years ago in Darwin. The soldier is no longer in the army.
Although military brass said they were appalled by the “abhorrent” video, Prime Minister John Howard urged Australians not to overreact.
“I have some understanding of the disposition of people in these situations to let off a bit of steam,” he said.
However, Manny Waks, the executive officer of the B’nai B’rith Anti-Defamation Commission, blasted the fact a “reputable Australian institution” had been “marred in a racist controversy” twice in one week.
“It is our strong belief that if the current incidents are ignored, the ramifications down the track may be significantly more serious for all Australians,” Waks said. “The time to act is now. While in some cases disciplinary action should be taken, in all cases education is the key.”