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.

Strange bedfellows: new nexus between Israel and far Right

My following essay appears in today’s Crikey:

Amid the acres of commentary on the exchange of IDF soldier Gilad Shalit and more than a thousand Palestinian prisoners, one comment stands out: “Let the WORLD know about Israel’s humanity and the terrorists’ inhumanity — SHARE this one with EVERYONE you know, friends!” What makes it noteworthy is that it featured on the “Geert Wilders International Freedom Allinace”  Facebook page, where supporters of the far-Right Dutch politician gather, one of many messages of fanatical pro-Israeli commentary.

The growing appeal of Israel to the world’s right-wing community has been developing for some years. Nevertheless, some examples are eye-popping. In July 2011, a Russian neo-Nazi delegation travelled to Israel, after an invitation by far Right Israeli politicians and an editor of a pro-settler news service. The Holocaust deniers visited Israel’s Holocaust centre, Yad Vashem, despite being photographed previously giving Nazi salutes and publishing songs celebrating Adolf Hitler on their website.

The pair was interviewed on Israeli TV. One said that the idea of the Jewish state “excites me” because it involves “an ancient people who took upon itself a pioneer project to revive a modern state and nation”. The TV journalist then asked how a neo-Nazi could now embrace Zionism. The other Russian quickly responded by explaining the common enemy they both faced: “We’re talking about radical Islam which is the enemy of humanity, enemy of democracy, enemy of progress and of any sane society.” In December 2010 a much larger delegation of European far Right politicians, including a Belgian politician with clear ties to SS veterans and a Swedish politician with connections to the country’s fascist past, also paid their respects at Yad Vashem. They were welcomed by some members of the Israeli Knesset and agreed to sign a “Jerusalem Declaration”, guaranteeing Israel’s right to defend itself against terror. “We stand at the vanguard in the fight for the Western, democratic community” against the “totalitarian threat” of “fundamentalist Islam”, read the document.

The signatories were some of Europe’s most successful anti-immigration politicians who long ago realised that backing Israel was a clever way to guarantee respectability for a cause that risked being framed as extremist or racist. One Israeli politician who met the delegation, Nissim Zeev, a member of ultra-Orthodox, right-wing party Shas, embraced the group: “At the end of the day, what’s important is their attitude, the fact they really love Israel.”

Yesterday’s anti-Semites have reformed themselves as today’s crusading heroes against an unstoppable Muslim birth-rate on a continent that now sees Islam as an intolerant and ghettoised religion. These increasingly mainstream attitudes have marinated across Europe for at least a decade — most starkly expressed in the writings of the Norway killer Anders Breivik, who slaughtered nearly 70 young left-wingers on Utøya island in late July this year.

Breivik’s interest in Israel wasn’t an accidental quirk of his Google search terms. It was reflective of years of indoctrination from that fateful September day in 2001 onwards. None of Breivik’s right-wing heroes openly praised his killings — politically speaking, half-hearted condemnations were the order of the day — because their vision of open war with Islam was arguably even more clinical. They cheered as America and Israel used the vast power of the state to attack, bomb, drone, kidnap, torture and murder literally countless Muslim victims in the past decade in Pakistan, Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Palestine, Somalia and beyond.

Breivik’s admired this Israeli “can-do” attitude but equally dismissed left-wing Jews who supported Palestinian rights. “Were the majority of the German and European Jews [in ’30s Europe] disloyal?” he asked in his “2083” manifesto. He went on:

“Yes, at least the so-called liberal Jews, similar to the liberal Jews today that opposes nationalism/Zionism and supports multiculturalism. Jews that support multiculturalism today are as much of a threat to Israel and Zionism (Israeli nationalism) as they are to us. So let us fight together with Israel, with our Zionist brothers against all anti-Zionists, against all cultural Marxists/multiculturalists. Conservative Jews were loyal to Europe and should have been rewarded. Instead, [Hitler] just targeted them all.” (p 1167)

Breivik mirrored the familiar separation of “good Jews” and “bad Jews” that appear in Western dialogue over the Israel/Palestine conflict. The nationalistic, Arab-hating Jew who believes in the never-ending occupation of Palestinian land is praise-worthy but the questioning, anti-Zionist Jew is a threat that must be eliminated. The commentators, journalists and politicians who receive mainstream acceptance and appear regularly in our media such as Daniel Pipes, who calls for the bombing of Iraq, Afghanistan and Iran, are welcomed into the club of popular Islamophobes because they speak the language of domination and violence reflected in our media and political discourse on a daily basis.

My enemy’s enemy is my friend

Breivik’s conviction that he was a friend of Zionism created a moral challenge for many of those he had quoted in his manifesto. It was not a challenge many faced well. One of the more notorious, American blogger Pamela Geller, condemned the killings as “horrific” but not so subtly in the same post reminded readers that the young students who attended summer camp at Utøya were actually witnessing an “anti-Semitic indoctrination training centre”. How? Norway’s Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Store had visited the camp and called for an end to the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land, apparently making him an anti-Semite by definition. Regular Jerusalem Post columnist Barry Rubin simply called the youth camp, “a pro-terrorist program”.

Geller was further incensed that he even called “Palestinians” Palestinian, because for her and her fellow travellers the Palestinians aren’t a real people deserving rights or a homeland. “Utøya camp was not Islamist,” Geller assures us, “but it was something not much more wholesome.” Thus Islamophobia seamlessly morphed into blind and racist Zionism.

In Australia likewise, the Israel lobby skirted around this uncomfortable reality, both publicly repulsed by the murders but they remain on the record as arguing for boundaries on Middle East debate. Others simply denied that Breivik’s sympathises for right-wing Zionism was irrelevant to understanding his crimes.

Of course this was absurd. Exaggerating a clash of civilisations has become the bread and butter of countless keyboard warriors in the past decade, with ever-more brutal Israel placed at the forefront of this struggle. Demonising Muslims and calling for their death on a regular basis has consequences. Muslims replacing Jews as the supposed enemy aiming for world domination will come with a price.

Israelophilia in the service of Islamophobia

The message emanating from the Zionist crowd was at times conflicted yet clear; Breivik could be forgiven for thinking that Israel was striving for racial perfection. The Jerusalem Post provided clarification after the attack in a startling editorial. It claimed multiculturalism had failed in Europe, Muslims were a threat to societal harmony and clearly implied that an ethnocracy, such as Israel, was the ideal global model:

“While there is absolutely no justification for the sort of heinous act perpetrated this weekend in Norway, discontent with multiculturalism’s failure must not be delegitimatised or mistakenly portrayed as an opinion held by only the most extremist elements of the Right.”

The Post seemed to defend the mindset, if not the actions, expressed by Breivik, as a common and understandable attitude of simply wanting to “protect unique European culture and values”. These values did not include Islam or being proud of a racially diverse land. (A week later, the paper issued an apology editorial after a massive backlash against its position. Belatedly, the editorial noted that “Jews, Muslims and Christians in Israel and around the world should be standing together against such hate crimes”.)

Anders Breivik’s real motivations may never be fully understood but his love for Israel didn’t appear out of the blue. It was because Zionism and its closest followers have cultivated an image of a country that can only survive without integration, peace with its Arab neighbours or an end to the occupation. Racial domination is the dream. Breivik took this call to a devastating conclusion and his manifesto makes clear that his support for Israel is couched in the language of survival against an unforgiving, intolerant and high Muslim birth-rate world.

You can hear these views on any day of the week on Facebook, on Twitter — and in the Israeli Knesset.

*This is an extract from an essay in On Utøya: Anders Breivik, right terror, racism and Europe, edited by Elizabeth Humphrys, Guy Rundle and Tad Tietze, an ebook to be published on October 26. The book will be launched by Senator Lee Rhiannon and Antony Loewenstein , 6.30pm Wednesday, October 26 at the Norfolk Hotel, Cleveland Street in Surry Hills, Sydney.

8 comments ↪