Australian Military Refuses To Disclose Arms Deal With Israel To Protect Its ‘Reputation’

Caitlin Johnstone
4 min readApr 9, 2024

Listen to a reading of this article (reading by Tim Foley):

Australia’s Defence Department has refused a Freedom of Information request about the details of an arms deal with Israel on the grounds that such information “could harm Australia’s international standing and reputation,” which suggests the details must be pretty damning. Equally as scandalous, this refusal was reportedly made in consultation with the Israeli government.

In an article titled “Details of defence deal with Israel kept under wraps to protect Australia’s ‘reputation’,” the ABC’s Andrew Greene details how the Australian military snubbed a Freedom of Information request by the Australian Greens regarding a “Memorandum of Understanding” between Australia and Israel that was signed in 2017.

“The document within the scope of this request contains information which, if released, could reasonably be expected to damage the international relations of the Commonwealth,” the Defence Department said in a letter explaining its rejection.

“A summary provided by the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) to the Greens reveals that the Israeli government was also consulted about releasing the document before Defence ultimately rejected the FOI request,” the ABC reports.

“The document contains information communicated to Australia by a foreign government and its officials under the expectation that it would not be disclosed,” a Defence official wrote in justification of its decision.

Greens senator David Shoebridge objected, saying “There is no place for secret arms treaties and secret arms deals between countries, and there is certainly no place for giving other countries veto power over what the Australian government tells the public about our government’s defence and arms deals.”

“Over 30,000 people have been killed by the State of Israel in Gaza in the past six months. In this context, the Australian public has a right to know about the military trade relationship with the State of Israel,” added Shoebridge.

It’s wild to think about the fact that the Australian warmakers determined this admission, that the truth would harm Australia’s reputation, to be the option that was least destructive to Australia’s reputation. When someone tells you “I can’t tell you the truth about that because the truth will make everyone dislike me,” it means they’ve ruled out every other option before coming to that position because the truth really is that ugly.

It’s like coming home to find your husband frantically burning clothes and mopping up blood and asking him what’s going on, and he says “I can’t tell you because the truth would harm your opinion of me.” Your very first thought after that is going to be that he must have done something very, very bad if that’s the best answer he could give you.

Back in November lawyer and researcher Kelly Trantner published an article with Declassified Australia titled “Australia’s role in the bombing of Gaza” about Israel’s use of Australian equipment to conduct its F-35 bombing campaigns, writing that “no bombs could be dropped on Gaza by an F-35 without parts manufactured for the F-35s by Melbourne company, Rosebank Engineering.”

Trantner notes that more than 70 Australian companies have been awarded “over $4.13 billion in global production and sustainment contracts through the F-35 program to date.” Since the writing of Trantner’s piece, during Israel’s active genocide in Gaza, the Australian Army has drawn controversy by awarding a billion-dollar contract to Israeli arms manufacturer Elbit Systems.

As we’ve discussed many times, Australia is functionally a military and intelligence asset of the same US-centralized empire as Israel. We’re currently falling all over ourselves helping the US prepare for a future war with China, and we’ve been providing logistical support for the US and UK bombing campaign against Ansarallah in Yemen. If all the violence and chaos we’re seeing in the middle east leads to the US committing to a direct full-scale war in the region, we may be absolutely certain that Canberra will march us into that one as well. All while the empire cages an Australian journalist in a maximum security prison for exposing its war crimes.

Australia, like Israel, is not a real country. Like Israel, Australia is nothing other than a settler-colonialist outpost of western imperialism built on genocide, ethnic cleansing and theft, and now operates in a way that is inseparable from the US war machine. This land will never know peace or justice until we have extricated ourselves from the talons of the empire.


My work is entirely reader-supported, so if you enjoyed this piece here are some options where you can toss some money into my tip jar if you want to. Go here to find video versions of my articles. Go here to buy paperback editions of my writings from month to month. All my work is free to bootleg and use in any way, shape or form; republish it, translate it, use it on merchandise; whatever you want. The best way to make sure you see the stuff I publish is to subscribe to the mailing list on Substack, which will get you an email notification for everything I publish. All works co-authored with my husband Tim Foley.

Bitcoin donations: 1Ac7PCQXoQoLA9Sh8fhAgiU3PHA2EX5Zm2

Featured image via Adobe Stock.