Quite why anyone would think this controversial is a little difficult to understand. Quite obviously those members of the Stern Gang, or Irgun, who fought against the British Mandate troops in Palestine should be stripped of their British citizenship. Taking up arms against the forces of Her Majesty – His Majesty as was – should have that effect, no?
John McDonnell argued Britons who fought for Israel against Palestine should face the threat of losing their citizenship in a letter that emerged 24 hours after Jeremy Corbyn said jihadi bride Shamima Begum should keep her passport. The shadow chancellor wrote to then Home Secretary Theresa May in 2014 saying she should censure British citizens who served in the Israeli Defence Force (IDF) and mete out the same punishment given to those who joined ISIS. Yesterday his party leader said Shamima Begum and her newborn baby should be allowed to return from Syria and given the ‘support that she needs’ by the authorities. Yet Mr McDonnell argued the Government’s policy to strip violent jihadis of their passports should be widened to those who went to fight for the Israeli Defence Force against the Palestinians in Gaza – with some critics calling it ‘hypocrisy’. Writing in July 2014 Mr McDonnell said: ‘Will you be warning any British citizens considering engagement with the IDF that such engagement may put their British citizenship in jeopardy?
Except, of course, that’s not what did happen, is it? Those Irgun who fought against the Brits who were caught were hanged. Possibly for treason if they were Brits, for terrorism if they weren’t, but citizenship was something that one might betray, not something one could lose.
Actually, it rather went the other way at times. Lord Haw Haw was informed – much to the surprise of both himself and international law – that he was an Irishman and thus had been an Englishman so we could now hang him for treason. We insisted he was so we could punish him.
McDonnell is of course wrong for McDonnell is wrong, goes without saying. The why being that it’s not fighting for someone else that matters. Those who fight for Palestine against Israel don’t lose the blue passport either. It’s fighting against the Queen’s peeps that is the point. And it shouldn’t be anyway but that’s another matter.