Best-selling journalist Antony Loewenstein trav­els across Afghanistan, Pakistan, Haiti, Papua New Guinea, the United States, Britain, Greece, and Australia to witness the reality of disaster capitalism. He discovers how companies such as G4S, Serco, and Halliburton cash in on or­ganized misery in a hidden world of privatized detention centers, militarized private security, aid profiteering, and destructive mining.

Disaster has become big business. Talking to immigrants stuck in limbo in Britain or visiting immigration centers in America, Loewenstein maps the secret networks formed to help cor­porations bleed what profits they can from economic crisis. He debates with Western contractors in Afghanistan, meets the locals in post-earthquake Haiti, and in Greece finds a country at the mercy of vulture profiteers. In Papua New Guinea, he sees a local commu­nity forced to rebel against predatory resource companies and NGOs.

What emerges through Loewenstein’s re­porting is a dark history of multinational corpo­rations that, with the aid of media and political elites, have grown more powerful than national governments. In the twenty-first century, the vulnerable have become the world’s most valu­able commodity. Disaster Capitalism is published by Verso in 2015 and in paperback in January 2017.

Profits_of_doom_cover_350Vulture capitalism has seen the corporation become more powerful than the state, and yet its work is often done by stealth, supported by political and media elites. The result is privatised wars and outsourced detention centres, mining companies pillaging precious land in developing countries and struggling nations invaded by NGOs and the corporate dollar. Best-selling journalist Antony Loewenstein travels to Afghanistan, Pakistan, Haiti, Papua New Guinea and across Australia to witness the reality of this largely hidden world of privatised detention centres, outsourced aid, destructive resource wars and militarized private security. Who is involved and why? Can it be stopped? What are the alternatives in a globalised world? Profits of Doom, published in 2013 and released in an updated edition in 2014, challenges the fundamentals of our unsustainable way of life and the money-making imperatives driving it. It is released in an updated edition in 2014.
forgodssakecover Four Australian thinkers come together to ask and answer the big questions, such as: What is the nature of the universe? Doesn't religion cause most of the conflict in the world? And Where do we find hope?   We are introduced to different belief systems – Judaism, Christianity, Islam – and to the argument that atheism, like organised religion, has its own compelling logic. And we gain insight into the life events that led each author to their current position.   Jane Caro flirted briefly with spiritual belief, inspired by 19th century literary heroines such as Elizabeth Gaskell and the Bronte sisters. Antony Loewenstein is proudly culturally, yet unconventionally, Jewish. Simon Smart is firmly and resolutely a Christian, but one who has had some of his most profound spiritual moments while surfing. Rachel Woodlock grew up in the alternative embrace of Baha'i belief but became entranced by its older parent religion, Islam.   Provocative, informative and passionately argued, For God's Sakepublished in 2013, encourages us to accept religious differences, but to also challenge more vigorously the beliefs that create discord.  
After Zionism, published in 2012 and 2013 with co-editor Ahmed Moor, brings together some of the world s leading thinkers on the Middle East question to dissect the century-long conflict between Zionism and the Palestinians, and to explore possible forms of a one-state solution. Time has run out for the two-state solution because of the unending and permanent Jewish colonization of Palestinian land. Although deep mistrust exists on both sides of the conflict, growing numbers of Palestinians and Israelis, Jews and Arabs are working together to forge a different, unified future. Progressive and realist ideas are at last gaining a foothold in the discourse, while those influenced by the colonial era have been discredited or abandoned. Whatever the political solution may be, Palestinian and Israeli lives are intertwined, enmeshed, irrevocably. This daring and timely collection includes essays by Omar Barghouti, Jonathan Cook, Joseph Dana, Jeremiah Haber, Jeff Halper, Ghada Karmi, Antony Loewenstein, Saree Makdisi, John Mearsheimer, Ahmed Moor, Ilan Pappe, Sara Roy and Phil Weiss.
The 2008 financial crisis opened the door for a bold, progressive social movement. But despite widespread revulsion at economic inequity and political opportunism, after the crash very little has changed. Has the Left failed? What agenda should progressives pursue? And what alternatives do they dare to imagine? Left Turn, published by Melbourne University Press in 2012 and co-edited with Jeff Sparrow, is aimed at the many Australians disillusioned with the political process. It includes passionate and challenging contributions by a diverse range of writers, thinkers and politicians, from Larissa Berendht and Christos Tsiolkas to Guy Rundle and Lee Rhiannon. These essays offer perspectives largely excluded from the mainstream. They offer possibilities for resistance and for a renewed struggle for change.
The Blogging Revolution, released by Melbourne University Press in 2008, is a colourful and revelatory account of bloggers around the globe why live and write under repressive regimes - many of them risking their lives in doing so. Antony Loewenstein's travels take him to private parties in Iran and Egypt, internet cafes in Saudi Arabia and Damascus, to the homes of Cuban dissidents and into newspaper offices in Beijing, where he discovers the ways in which the internet is threatening the ruld of governments. Through first-hand investigations, he reveals the complicity of Western multinationals in assisting the restriction of information in these countries and how bloggers are leading the charge for change. The blogging revolution is a superb examination about the nature of repression in the twenty-first century and the power of brave individuals to overcome it. It was released in an updated edition in 2011, post the Arab revolutions, and an updated Indian print version in 2011.
The best-selling book on the Israel/Palestine conflict, My Israel Question - on Jewish identity, the Zionist lobby, reporting from Palestine and future Middle East directions - was released by Melbourne University Press in 2006. A new, updated edition was released in 2007 (and reprinted again in 2008). The book was short-listed for the 2007 NSW Premier's Literary Award. Another fully updated, third edition was published in 2009. It was released in all e-book formats in 2011. An updated and translated edition was published in Arabic in 2012.

All we need to know about racist Israeli politics


Young Israelis are moving much further to the right politically, according to a survey to be released Thursday.

The study found that 60 percent of Jewish teenagers in Israel, between 15 and 18 years old, prefer “strong” leaders to the rule of law, while 70 percent say that in cases where state security and democratic values conflict, security should come first. A similar picture emerges in the 21 to 24 age group.

The comprehensive survey was conducted on behalf of Germany’s Friedrich Ebert Foundation, in cooperation with the Macro Center for Political Economics, by the Dahaf Institute.

According to the authors, the report shows a strengthening of Jewish-nationalist beliefs among Jewish youths, and a clear weakening of the importance given to the state’s liberal-democratic base.

Among Jewish youths, support for the definition of Israel as a Jewish state as the most important goal for the country grew from 18.1 percent in 1998 to 33.2 percent last year, the survey reports. At the same time, there has been a consistent drop in those who back the importance of Israel’s identity as a democratic country – from 26.1 percent in 1998 to 14.3 percent in 2010.

Support for Israel to eventually live in peace with its neighboring countries also fell significantly, from 28.4 percent 12 years ago to 18.2 percent last year. This is the third such survey of young people conducted by the two organizations in the past 12 years.

The study was carried out in July 2010, among a representative sample of Jewish and Arab youth. It included 1,600 participants, 800 aged 15-18 and 800 21-24, which is considered a relatively large group.

The right wing enjoyed a clear majority of support among the young people surveyed. Among Jews, the numbers stood at 57 percent and 66 percent for the two age groups respectively, while those who said they considered themselves to be left wing made up only 13 percent and 10 percent of those respondents.

The support for the right rose overall from 48 percent to 62 percent during the study’s 12-year period, while support for the left fell from 32 percent to 12 percent.

As to the possibility of peace with the Palestinians, 755 of the Jewish respondents said they do not believe negotiations will lead to peace, and most prefer that the present situation continue.


As Palestinians commemorate Land Day, the anniversary of an uprising against Israel’s land confiscation, a report from the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics released a report showing Israel’s settlement project is rapidly escalating.

Thirty-five years on from the uprising, in which six young protesters were killed by Israeli forces, Palestinians constitute almost half of the population of the Palestine under the British Mandate, but have access to less than 15 percent of the land, the PCBS report said.

Israel’s separation wall has confiscated around 733 square kilometers of occupied Palestinian land in the West Bank, the report notes. Israel says the wall was built to prevent attacks, but its route runs deep inside the West Bank, often as far as 22 kilometers, according to UN reports. Land between the wall and the Green Line has been used for illegal Israeli settlements and military bases.

PCBS found that in 2010, Israel built 6,794 Jewish-only housing units on occupied Palestinian land, four times more than in 2009.


Israel is considering building an artificial island with sea and air ports off blockaded Gaza, as a long-term solution to shipping goods into the Hamas-run Palestinian enclave, the transport minister said.

Yisrael Katz told Army Radio on Wednesday he wants an international force to control the island for “at least 100 years” and for unloaded cargo to be brought into Gaza along a 4.5-km (3-mile)-long bridge with a security checkpoint to prevent arms smuggling.

“The Israeli military would continue the naval blockade, but in a more localised way,” he said.

Katz said he had pitched the project to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who told him to put together a plan, which “has been under examination for many months” by experts.

A spokesman for the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority described the idea as “pure fantasy” and an attempt by Israel “to divert attention from the real problems of Gaza resulting from the Israeli siege”.

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ALP fails so media goes to the ALP for thoughts?

Sometimes the Australian media is so clueless as to make me wonder why they even bother.

The NSW Labor Party was devastated in last Saturday’s election. So who does the mainstream media turn to for thoughts? The Labor Party.

New Matilda published my investigation yesterday on the Greens. It’s received a huge response, with many people pleased somebody had revealed the levels of hatred directed at the party, Zionist lobby bullying and so-called progressive Jews and others remaining silent in the face of these actions. People won’t forget.

Here’s a small part from my article that didn’t make the final version:

The days since the New South Wales election have seen a litany of commentators, journalists and politicians pontificating on the reasons behind the Labor Party defeat, Liberal Party landslide and Greens difficulty in winning lower house seats.

Many in the mainstream media have called upon tired ALP figures to critique the failings of their own party. Unsurprisingly, the results have been mixed. It’s as if editors only want to hear the words of people who created the mess; their disastrous rule seemingly warranting reverential treatment.

Former NSW Labor cabinet minister Frank Sartor barely took any responsibility for the public’s displeasure with his party on ABC TV’s Lateline. The 16 minute interview largely ignored policy and focused almost solely on internal Labor troubles. No questions were asked why both major sides of politics are struggling to attract new members. It was little different when Leigh Sales spoke to Federal front-bencher Mark Arbib on ABC TV’s 7.30. Likewise with former Prime Minister Paul Keating with Sales again.

Labor’s right-wing factional head Eddie Obeid wrote in the Sydney Morning Herald that factions weren’t to blame for the ALP’s disastrous showing on the weekend, a view contradicted by years of factional brawling.

But this was insider media only allowing insiders to comment and create the post-election narrative.


Even the Bush cabal knew Gitmo was breaking laws

Yet more evidence that Washington is a law unto itself:

The Bush administration was so intent on keeping Guantanamo detainees off U.S. soil and away from U.S. courts that it secretly tried to negotiate deals with Latin American countries to provide “life-saving” medical procedures rather than fly ill terrorist suspects to the U.S. for treatment, a recently released State Department cable shows.

The U.S. offered to transport, guard and pay for medical procedures for any captive the Pentagon couldn’t treat at the U.S. Navy base in southeast Cuba, according to the cable, which was made public by the WikiLeaks website. One by one, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Panama and Mexico declined.

The secret effort is spelled out in a Sept. 17, 2007, cable from then assistant secretary of state Thomas Shannon to the U.S. embassies in those four countries. Shannon is now the U.S. ambassador in Brazil.

At the time, the Defense Department was holding about 330 captives at Guantanamo, not quite twice the number that are there today. They included alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed and two other men whom the CIA waterboarded at its secret prison sites.

The cable, which was posted on the WikiLeaks website March 14, draws back the curtain on contingency planning at Guantanamo, but also contradicts something the prison camp’s hospital staff has been telling visitors for years — that the U.S. can dispatch any specialist necessary to make sure the captives in Cuba get first-class treatment.

“Detainees receive state-of-the-art medical care at Guantanamo for routine, and many non-routine, medical problems. There are, however, limits to the care that DOD can provide at Guantanamo,” Shannon said in the cable, referring to the Department of Defense.

The cable didn’t give examples of those limits. But it sought partner countries to commit to a “standby arrangement” to provide “life-saving procedures” on a “humanitarian basis.”

It’s unclear what prompted the effort. The cable said then Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte had approved making the request at the behest of then Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England, who at the time oversaw Guantanamo operations.

Negroponte said Wednesday that he had “no recollection” of the request but that it would have been unrealistic to expect the Latin American nations to agree to it, “because anything to do with Guantanamo was always so politically controversial for any of these countries.” England didn’t respond to a request for comment.

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West to send private mercenaries to “help” Libyan rebels?

The idea of providing arms and support to the “rebels” in Libya shows a West with no historical memory. Remember Afghanistan in the 1980s?

Now we learn that a privatised force is being considered:

Private contractors could be sent by the US to Libya to help rebels fighting Muammar Gaddafi under plans being considered in the event of a stalemate in the conflict.

The move comes as Gaddafi forces recaptured a strategic oil town and closed in on another major eastern city.

Rebels have pleaded for ground support after they lost nearly all the territory gained since international air strikes began.

US President Barack Obama has not ruled out shipments of arms to the opponents of the dictator, although critics fear that such a move might lead to the deployment of ground troops to offer training and support to the disparate rebel groups.

A senior former Pentagon official has told The Times that one option to be discussed was the use of contractors instead of troops.

“This has worked well in the past, such as when the US company MPRI provided military training for the Croatian Army in 1994 in the civil war with the Serbs,” the former official said.

Mr Obama has pledged that US ground troops will not be sent to Libya, but the use of contractors to train the rebels would circumvent that public commitment.

“The private sector has plenty of experience in this sort of work and it doesn’t even need to be training on the shooting end of the war, they could be used to provide logistical support to get the rebels more organised,” the source said.

The CIA has inserted operatives into Libya to make contact with rebels, The New York Times reported on Wednesday.


Tahrir tweeting reflects spirit of the times

I recently mentioned a newly released book, Tweets from Tahrir, on the Twitter coverage of Egypt’s revolution. This is a very fast turn-around book and should be welcomed. In terms of insights, in 140 characters, it’s a strong addition that shows the power of social media in times of upheaval (via Mondoweiss):


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What kind of “democracy” measures calorie intake for prisoners in Gaza?


Human rights group Gisha issues the following release:

Wednesday, March 30, 2011 – Last Wednesday, March 23, 2011, the Tel Aviv Administrative Court ruled that the Defense Ministry must immediately provide Gisha with the “red lines document” and reveal the names of the officials enforcing the closure. It also ruled that the ministry must refund the organization for legal expenses in the amount of 12,000 NIS.
On October 28, 2009, Gisha petitioned the court under to the Freedom of Information Act, requesting that the Defense Ministry and Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) disclose their policy pertaining to the transfer of civilian goods to the Gaza Strip. The petition sought to dispel the secrecy surrounding the procedures and criteria according to which Israel decides which goods can enter the Gaza Strip, and compel the state to publicize these criteria as required by Israeli law. Gisha’s goal was to increase transparency of government policy, allow public review of government conduct, and promote respect for human rights and the rule of law.
During the proceedings on the petition, Gisha succeeded in revealing many documents related to the closure policy, including:
  1. The procedure for monitoring and assessing inventories in the Gaza Strip. The procedure includes a reference to a “lower warning line” to give advance notice of expected shortages of a particular product and an “upper warning line”, above which entry of certain goods into the Gaza Strip could be blocked. This procedure reveals that the state approved a “policy of deliberate restriction” of basic goods in the Gaza Strip (section h4, p. 5). So, for example, the state restricted the supply of industrial diesel required for the Gaza power plant, thereby significantly impairing the supply of electricity and water.
  2. The procedure for approving transfer of goods into the Gaza Strip. This procedure specifies the guiding considerations, rules and methods according to which permission was given for goods to enter Gaza. Among other things, this procedure said that the list of permitted goods is confidential and must not be revealed, and included a reference to the centrality of the definition of a product as “luxury” in the decision of whether or not to approve its entry.
  3. A list of humanitarian products whose transfer into the Gaza Strip is permitted as of May 30, 2010.
The points that remained in dispute even after the aforementioned documents were revealed were the requests to disclose the names and positions that were blacked out in the documents, to publish the “red lines document” and reveal all of the documents concerning the current closure policy in the Gaza Strip. Judge Ruth Ronen ruled last week that Gisha must be provided with the “red lines document” immediately and that the list of officials must be revealed. The judge also ruled that the Defense Ministry must refund the organization for legal expenses in the amount of NIS 12,000. However, the judge also ruled that for additional documents concerning this issue a separate application must be made, and at the same time indicated that the Defense Ministry should not drag its feet in responding.
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Taking the Palestinian struggle to the heart of New York

While Israeli political leaders simply find new ways to demonise and occupy Arabs, activists in the US take action into their own hands. More, please:

Please find below a wonderful video of Adalah New York’s BDS action to mark the Global BDS Day of Action commemorating Palestinian Land Day (in 1976, 6 Palestinians were killed, hundreds wounded and hundreds more jailed when Palestinian citizens of Israel marched in their thousands to protest the Israeli government’s plan to steal 60,000 dunams of Palestinian land in the Galilee)

Adalah-NY: the New York Campaign for the Boycott of Israel surprised crowds in New York’s Grand Central Station with a song and dance. Performing to the tune of “Don’t Stop Believin'” by Journey, Adalah-NY added their own little twist to remind people to boycott Israel:


Why Israelis can’t just lie back and think of Arab democracy

From a young age, the vast majority of Israeli Jews are taught that Judaism is a superior religion and treating Arabs badly is a necessary price to survive in the Middle East. Hence a nearly 45 year old military occupation of Palestine.

Here’s an interesting perspective from Eyal Press:

Shortly after the democratic uprising began in Egypt, a group of young Israelis led by freelance journalist Dimi Reider launched Kav Hutz (“Outside Line”), a Hebrew-language blog devoted to covering the events across the border. Unable to enter Egypt on short notice with his Israeli passport—a predicament all Israeli correspondents faced—Reider chronicled the insurrection by posting minute-by-minute updates culled from an array of online sources on the ground: Al Jazeera, The Guardian, Egyptian bloggers. The tone of Reider’s blog was reportorial, but hardly detached. “Good luck,” he wrote on the eve of the huge “Day of Departure” rally in Tahrir Square—a sentiment rarely voiced in Israel’s mainstream media, which stressed the danger of a takeover by the Muslim Brotherhood if the protesters prevailed. By the time Egyptians had succeeded in overthrowing Hosni Mubarak, Kav Hutz was getting up to 12,000 visitors a day and had been singled out in Haaretz for leaving the rest of the Israeli press “in the dust.”

As the story suggests, Egypt’s uprising managed to inspire not only countless young Arabs but also some young Israelis. A contributor to +972, an Israel-based online magazine that features commentary and reporting by mostly young progressives—it is named after the area code shared by Israel and the Palestinian territories—Reider was deeply moved by the courage of the protesters in Cairo and dismayed by the patronizing reaction of many Israelis. “The line the establishment took was that it’s all very nice but they’re going to end up like Iran,” he recalls. “I didn’t take that line because I bothered to read stuff by Egyptians and it quickly became apparent that the Muslim Brotherhood was just one player. It also felt distasteful to me to judge the extraordinary risks Egyptians were taking solely by our profit—by how it would affect Israeli security and the policy of a government I don’t support anyway.”

For observers troubled by Israel’s alarming recent shift to the right, the emergence of Internet-savvy liberal voices like Reider’s may seem heartening. But while such bloggers appear more capable of reaching a younger demographic than Haaretz—the venerable leftist newspaper whose aging readership seems likely to shrink in the years to come—it’s not clear how many of their contemporaries are listening to them. One reason is apathy. Increasingly cynical about politics and the prospects of peace, not a few young Israelis I’ve met in recent years have told me they’ve stopped following the news. When they go online, it’s to chat with friends, not to check out sites like +972.

There are also growing numbers of young Israelis who simply don’t share Reider’s views. Against the 12,000 readers of Kav Hutz were countless others who didn’t question the alarmist tone of their country’s mass-circulation tabloids when the revolt in Egypt began, as NPR discovered when it aired a segment on what Israeli youth thought of the uprising. “For us it is better to have Mubarak,” one young Israeli said. “I kind of feel sad for President Mubarak,” said another.

“For the last two or three years, we’ve been seeing a very consistent trend of younger Israelis becoming increasingly right-wing,” Dahlia Scheindlin, a public opinion analyst who also contributes to +972, told me. Last year, Scheindlin carried out a survey on behalf of the Kulanana Shared Citizenship Initiative that showed eroding support for democratic values among Israeli youth, at least insofar as the rights of non-Jews go. One question in the survey asked whether there should be “Equal access to state resources, equal opportunities [for] all citizens.” Among Jewish respondents between the ages of 16-29, a mere 43 percent agreed.

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The Greens, Palestine and defending BDS during NSW election

My following investigation for New Matilda appears today:

Did the Greens’ stance on Israel cost them lower house seats in the NSW election? Antony Loewenstein talks to key Greens about BDS and dirty politics

“I mean they just never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.” That’s what NSW ALP campaign spokesperson Luke Foley had to say about the Greens’ performance to Mark Colvin on ABC Radio on Monday. This, after playing a key role in the biggest electoral defeat in Australian political history. With the credibility of the ALP at an all-time low, it’s hard to understand why Foley was called on to comment on the performance of another party. Given the extent of Labor’s drubbing, perhaps it’s not so hard to understand why tired ALP figures are so ready to point the finger at the Greens. But do their criticisms hold any weight?

The Greens were sitting on 44 per cent of the primary vote in Marrickville according to a Galaxy poll two weeks out from the election, but come polling day they ended up with just 35.1. One of the key issues in the Marrickville campaign was the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel supported by Greens candidate and mayor Fiona Byrne in Marrickville Council — and the ferocious response to it in the final weeks of the campaign.

New Matilda has spoken to key members of the NSW Greens to determine what went wrong and what went right — and to consider the real electoral effect of the NSW Greens embracing the BDS campaign.

First some buried facts: The NSW Greens increased their statewide vote on the 2007 election by 2 per cent. Byrne helped drive a 7 per cent swing against a popular sitting member, Labor’s Carmel Tebbutt. The Greens’ Balmain candidate Jamie Parker may yet unseat a former NSW Labor front-bencher.

NSW Senator-elect Lee Rhiannon acknowledged to New Matilda that the Greens could have explained BDS better both internally and externally:

“Months before the election we needed to explain why the Greens backed BDS and we needed to work closer with our allies on BDS; academics, the Arab community and social justice movements in Sydney and Melbourne. Collectively we didn’t do enough to amplify support for BDS and show that this is part of an international movement.”

Rhiannon argues that the largely decentralised nature of the Greens campaigns is both an advantage and disadvantage. “It sometimes allows us to win seats, but hard to get a united position on issues.” Too many Greens believed the pre-election hype that two lower house seats were in the bag, she said, pointing to the Galaxy-Daily Telegraph poll in mid-March that showed a massive win for Byrne in Marrickville.

“Too many Greens became over-optimistic”, Rhiannon told New Matilda. “[Liberal leader] Barry O’Farrell was always careful to say he wouldn’t win. Australians like the underdog and Greens didn’t say we were the underdog. It’s better if you’re realistic not idealistic as we know how dirty ALP fights in the end.”

Galaxy Polling head David Briggs told New Matilda that he stands by the accuracy of the poll that found 44 per cent primary vote going to Byrne. He thinks that the Greens failed to take the seat due to a combination of anti-Greens coverage in the media, an ALP and Liberal policy of “vilification” against Byrne and decline in backing for the Greens in the last days before the poll.

Tebbutt was able to portray herself almost as an independent, Briggs said, rather than as a key member of the Labor Party. He argues that it’s quite possible the disastrous poll for Labor in mid-March galvanised the ALP to direct a huge amount of resources to Marrickville to save the seat.

For Rhiannon, one of the saddest sights of the election was the ALP Left, “who call themselves the conscience of the party, driving this attack on the Greens over BDS. Anthony Albanese and Luke Foley ran a sophisticated campaign through the media to discredit the Greens. This is a party who has sometimes worked closely with the Palestinians — but in this case it was a bankrupt move for political reasons.”

Greens MLC David Shoebridge told New Matilda that he wouldn’t go into detail about the party’s campaign but questions why ALP figure Luke Foley is given credibility as a commentator on the Greens vote “when he has been the core spokesman for the ALP’s greatest political defeat in Australian history. Foley wants the post election narrative to be about the Greens performance instead of his own role in the ALP disaster.” (Foley refused to comment for this article, questioning my independence in an email exchange.)

“There are no institutional interests in wanting the Greens to succeed”, Shoebridge said. “Almost all institutional interests are challenged at either the state or federal level, such as the Catholic Church, mainstream media, private schools and the mining lobby. It’s no wonder that major media outlets are able to find people to push that critique. It’s in their interests to have the ALP to continue state dominance, despite all its grossly anti-democratic policies.”

The Greens faced the difficult task of struggling for traction in a state that was desperate to get rid of the Labor Party. “75 per cent of NSW people wanted to wake up on Sunday morning with a different government”, Shoebridge said. “It was anti-ALP, which meant the Liberals, which made it difficult to get people to vote Greens. What was seen as the best way for people to get rid of the ALP? Vote Liberal.”

The real effect of BDS on the Marrickville and Balmain campaigns is impossible to determine but just retired Greens MLC Ian Cohen told New Matilda that he thinks it was a major factor, a position he’s held, with various degrees of consistency, for some time. He’s opposed to BDS, believes it unfairly targets Israel and ignores other gross human rights abuses across the world:

“Many pro-Israel people worried about the lack of consistency and this included Greens members. Nothing was said about dictatorships in the Arab world from the Greens … I believe there is a huge scope for criticism of Israeli behaviour against the Palestinian people but BDS for the Greens was an old style, in the trenches method of pushing a campaign. It wasn’t properly assessed how it would affect the NSW election campaign. The Jewish community outrage had a significant impact on our candidates.”

The Greens are now examining possible legal action against writers who have potentially defamed members as anti-Semitic .(News Limited’s Andrew Bolt is one of the worst offenders.)

Jamie Parker revealed to New Matilda the extent of the hatred directed at him during the campaign due to the Greens BDS policy. He had countless letters sent to him calling him a Nazi and Jew hater. His car was vandalised and campaign signs spray-painted with swastikas. He received death threats and some abusers said they knew where he lived. “One letter said I wanted to turn Balmain power station into a gas chamber and the light rail would take people there”, Parker tells me. “Lefty Jews told me that you can’t be surprised if extreme people do extreme things but they wouldn’t come out in public and condemn it.” He was appalled.

When the Murdoch press editor David Penberthy wrote that, “[Fiona] Byrne’s been busy advocating a polite modern rendering of Kristallnacht in the Inner West”, Parker hoped progressive Jews he knew would condemn the offensive comparison. They did not. “These Jews provide cover for extreme actions if they occur. If there’s a sniff of you being critical of Israel, such Jews will attack you and cut you loose.” BDS simply made many Jewish people unreasonable and extremely upset, Jews told Parker.

Parker says that the reaction of the Zionist lobby and local Jewish community during the election has revealed that they are willing to allow smears and violent actions against the Greens. Parker, who has spent years working on collaborative projects between local Jews and Palestinians, is now fed up with what he sees as Jewish silence. Local Jewish leaders have contacted him since Saturday to try and repair the damage but they still refuse to apologise for aggressive Jewish behaviour.

This is reminiscent of a current trend seen in Europe, with the far-right and anti-immigration parties visiting Israel and praising her achievements at fighting the supposed Muslim hordes. The Zionist lobby and mainstream Jewish community remains largely silent because such hateful figures, traditionally from the anti-Semitic fringes, are embracing Israeli government policies.

“Greens have a lot to learn when our political opponents and the Murdoch press are working together to attack us”, says David Shoebridge. The Greens “should learn what it means to be playing for-keeps politics. We constructed a campaign on positive messages and positive vision … but in fact history says that negative campaigning will win in the last weeks of campaign. It’s hard for a positive campaign to respond to a gloves-off campaign but we need to learn that without compromising our principles.”

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New York Times sees midgets everywhere

Andy Borowitz laughs but finds time to writes this: “OMG – this actually appeared on the NY Times home page this afternoon before they figured out their mistake and took it down”

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American public broadcasting loves war and wants to help the Libya mission

Sadly, this has been little different in Australia with the ABC largely only featuring military types, former generals, politicians and so-called experts who endorse the US-led war.

Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting shows how not to do it in the US:

If public television’s mission is to bring diverse viewpoints to the airwaves, the discussions about the war in Libya on the PBS NewsHour haven’t lived up to that standard. Over the past two weeks, the NewsHour has featured an array of current and former military and government officials in its discussion segments–leaving little room for antiwar voices, U.S. foreign policy critics and legal experts.

-On March 18, the NewsHour interviewed the Obama administration’s UN Ambassador Susan Rice.

-On March 21, anchor Jim Lehrer decided to get “perspective on the Mideast turmoil from two former U.S. national security advisers”–Carter’s Zbigniew Brzezinski and Reagan’s Brent Scowcroft. The same day also featured a discussion between retired Maj. Gen. Dutch Remkes and Robert Malley, a Clinton-era National Security Council official now with the International Crisis Group.

-On March 22, the NewsHour brought on Charles Kupchan, a former Clinton administration National Security Council staffer, along with a couple of rare guests without U.S. government or military backgrounds: Daniel Dombey of the Financial Times and former Libyan Ambassador Ali Suleiman Aujali, who broke with the Gadhafi regime and is aligned with the opposition.

-On March 23 the NewsHour was back to the officials-only format, interviewing a pair of former senators, Democrat Gary Hart and Republican Norm Coleman, both of whom support the White House action in Libya, and Deputy National Security Adviser Denis McDonough.

-On March 24, the NewsHour interviewed retired Army Gen. Jack Keane and Frederic Wehrey, a former Air Force officer and Iraq War vet now at the Rand Corporation, both of whom supported some U.S. ground troops in Libya. Viewers weren’t told that Keane’s consulting firm, Keane Associates, includes major military companies among its clients (USA Today, 3/10/10), or that Keane is also on the board of General Dynamics, a major military contractor.

–On March 28, a discussion of “what’s at stake for the president” featured Washington Post columnist Ruth Marcus and Politico‘s Roger Simon.

There are many aspects of the Libya War that should be discussed on public television, featuring the views of those outside of elite Beltway circles. The 1967 Carnegie Commission report that gave birth to PBS envisioned it as a “forum for debate and controversy” that would “provide a voice for groups in the community that may be otherwise unheard.” The NewsHour should include those principles in its decisions about whom to include in its coverage of Libya.

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Obama defenders find ways to justify use of arms here and there

The New York Times, being an establishment paper, unsurprisingly backs Barack Obama’s military intervention in Libya.

Much more revealing, however, is this interview with Samantha Power, a senior director on the National Security Council.

I truly wonder if she believes the words she’s telling Politico:

Obama “has used his pulpit and a number of speeches … to kind of clear the brush that had gathered around the norms in previous years, rehabilitating some of the principles and cleaning up some of the associations,” she said, referring to international values of democracy and human rights.

“The words ‘democracy’ and ‘human rights’ have come to acquire meaning and content that Barack Obama and his administration provided,” she said.

“His success in rehabilitating those norms or providing that ocntent has actually made it easier for other governments to stand with us,” she said. She didn’t refer directly to the coalition now battling the Libyan government.

One of the key elements of this “clearing of the brush,” she said, had been “recognizing that human rights had to begin at home, and that his task and the Administration’s task was to strenghten the power of our example.”

She cited Obama’s torture bank, his “return to the Geneva Conventions, and his push to close the Guantanamo Bay detention center.

“He also renounced the imposition of democracy by military force,” she said.

Power also made the case that the American decision to return to the United Nations Human Rights Council — a venue disliked by the U.S. for its focus on criticism of Israel — has paid off in the Libya crisis with the Council’s expulsion of Libya.

There are really few examples where the Obama administration has seriously changed policies from the Bush years. Look at Palestine, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, warrant-less wire-tapping in the US, continuation of Guanatanamo Bay and military commissions for “terror suspects”, no accountability for torture and the list goes on.

Judge Obama on his actions not pretty words.

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