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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.

Tasteless tourism should be avoided in Sri Lanka

Following the recent ethical tourism campaign for Sri Lanka launched by Britain’s Sri Lanka Campaign, this story shouldn’t surprise anybody; Colombo is proud of committing war crimes against Tamils and would like to make some money from it (via the UK Telegraph):

A campaign group for human rights has criticised “tasteless” holiday accommodation built on the site of Sri Lanka’s “killing fields”.

The lagoon of Nanthi Kadal, on the island’s north coast, was, in 2009, the scene of atrocities in the Sri Lankan army’s final push against the Tamil Tigers. Now the location, where the UN estimates tens of thousands of civilians were killed, is the setting for army-run holiday homes. One teak villa was opened by the president, Mahinda Rajapaksa, and his brother, the defence secretary.

“Enjoy a soothing holiday and the cool breeze of Nanthi Kadal lagoon,” is how the three-bedroom property, Lagoon’s Edge, is promoted on the resort’s Facebook page. On its walls hang memorials to the civil war. A Sinhala language newspaper report describes it as where “thousands of war heroes, terrorists and others died”.

“War tourism is all about presentation,” said Fred Carver of Sri Lanka Campaign for Peace and Justice. “In Cambodia, for instance, the killing fields are presented by the victims. When done properly it can have a healing role but in this case it’s all from the perspective of the victors, the Sri Lankan army.

“It’s all about ‘come and see where we killed Prabhakaran’ [leader of the Tamil Tigers]. I can guarantee there’ll be no mention of civilian casualties.”

Jono Vernon-Powell, managing director of the tour operator Nomadic Thoughts, questioned “whether the tourism project is appropriate, given that it is on the very site where a UN report claims the Sinhalese military committed war crimes and crimes against humanity”.

The Sri Lankan military runs various private businesses in the country. At Lagoon’s Edge, “all meals and services are supplied by the Sri Lanka army”, and visitors have to be “recommended by a Sri Lanka army official”, it says on the Facebook page.

“We’re concerned about the push the military is making into tourism generally,” said Mr Carver. “They already own several hotels, run whale-watching trips and own wildlife sanctuaries.”

Some tour operators are just beginning to promote Sri Lanka’s previously off-limits northern and eastern coasts.

“There’s unique food and wonderful Tamil culture,” says Sam Clark, managing director of Sri Lanka specialist, Experience Travel. He acknowledged there can be some positive outcomes from “dark tourism” to war zones but cautioned that, in this case, “it is very soon”.

As for staying in army-run accommodation, Mr Clark said: “We encourage people to stay in small, independently owned places rather than ones run by a government institution.

Sri Lanka’s acting high commissioner, Neville de Silva, objected to the term “war tourism”.

“Just because there was conflict in an area, does it mean tourists shouldn’t go there?” he asked. “Tourism is providing livelihoods for people who were caught up in the conflict.”

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