During my Profits of Doom book tour last week in Western Australia, I was interviewed by one of the major commercial stations, 6PR, and its morning host Paul Murray. It was pleasing to hear robust criticisms of the British multinational Serco:
I was interviewed this week by ABC Radio Perth’s Afternoon presenter Russell Woolf about my book Profits of Doom, Israel/Palestine and ethics:
A major concern with the Australian aid program is that it favours commercial interests in aid delivery. The commercialisation of aid often results in ‘boomerang aid’ – where aid ends up funding private Australian companies, consultants, advisors, and goods and services, bypassing those who need it the most and returning large economic gains to Australia. The rapidly expanding areas of public-private partnerships demonstrate a commitment to assisting Australian business.
Commercialisation of aid is concerning because of the lack of transparency, public oversight and accountability in aid provision, and because contracts are often bound by commercial-in-confidence agreements.
AID/WATCH invited guest speakers Wendy Bacon and Antony Loewenstein to discuss these issues and the impacts on targeted communities.
Wendy Bacon is an investigative journalist and Professor of Journalism at the Australian Centre for Independent Journalism, who has investigated and written about Australian corporate interests and the foreign aid program. She discusses ‘Tracking Corporate Aid’.
Author and journalist Antony Loewenstein discusses aid and development in the context of vulture capitalism, the topic of his latest book, “Profits of Doom: How Vulture Capitalism is Swallowing the World.”
Prime Minister Tony Abbott has abolished AusAID as a free-standing agency and folded it into the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. He has also announced more than $4 billion in cuts to the aid budget, prompting protests from church and charity leaders. But does foreign aid help those in need or does it enrich corrupt government officials and the multinational corporations that win lucrative aid contracts? And what are the ethical problems that arise from corporations that swoop into countries that have been wracked by disaster or conflict to make profits. Antony Loewenstein, author of Profits of Doom: How Vulture Capitalism is Swallowing the World, discusses the issues with Andrew West.
I was recently interviewed by Lily Jovic for Vice magazine:
Last month, Israel struck a 1.2 million dollar deal with the parents of Melbourne-born Mossad agent Ben Zygier, as compensation for his death in prison 3 years ago. The payout seemingly marks the end of the Prisoner X case, a case which despite having serious national security implications, did little to capture the attention of Australia’s government or the people it protects.
We had a chat with Antony Loewenstein, author of My Israel Question and The Blogging Revolution, to help us understand why an Australian man turned Israeli spy, jailed without trial and eventually found hanging in a cell while under 24-hour watch, didn’t become the news story of the year.
VICE: Hi Antony. What did you think of the payout?
Anthony Loewenstein: The payout is unsurprising; it’s something governments do pretty commonly as a way to bring silence to the family, who in this case are principally based in Melbourne. They’ve pretty much said nothing the whole time, and generally speaking, members of the Zionist community/lobby have remained silent the whole time too. Countless journalists have tried to speak to them and gotten nowhere. Israel investigated itself and they essentially found that they have no responsibility over what happened, but here’s a million dollars to shut up; it’s a payoff to buy silence.
That’s probably what is most peculiar about this case, the absence of any public discourse, particularly from the Jewish community in Melbourne.
What needs to be understood here is that the Zionist lobby works within the shadows. So when a story like this happens, which is rare, about something that has the potential to embarrass them and Israel, their response is either to say nothing or to deny there is a problem in the first place. It’s a “nothing to see here, move it along” situation, and a damage control approach that is very much supported by both sides of Australian politics. In terms of Zygier, the response of most people in power is: bury it, don’t respond, don’t give it oxygen and hopefully it will go away. Israel’s payment to Zygier’s parents is yet another attempt to make that happen.
What are some questions which, in your mind, the Australian government could press Israel with? If not to bring closure to the family then to at least address security concerns.
How many Australian Jews are going to Israel, taking citizenship and working for the Mossad? What are they doing with the Mossad? The enemies that Mossad sees are the enemies Australia sees, because Australia is a client state of America and Israel. That’s how it works, that’s what real politics is about. How does the Australian government feel about Israeli Australian citizens who undertake potentially illegal behaviour? That’s an important question, the Australian government had no interest in finding that out, they didn’t really care and evidently don’t care because they turn a blind eye and support it.
I think we really have to separate between public statements and private realities. The assassination of a Hamas weapons dealer in 2010 obviously got exposure because the Israelis, in a remarkably stupid manner, were caught on CCTV cameras. The Australian government was publicly pissed off with the fact that Australian passports were used, but I understand privately that this sort of thing happens all the time.
So, Australia isn’t privately concerned with what happened to Zygier or Israel’s austere censorship measures?
Well there’s been a remarkable lack of curiosity, in fact a ridiculous lack of curiosity. The report that the Australian government released after the Zygier incident, was complete bullshit, whitewash. Basically saying yes there were some issues with overall security but Israel behaved fine.
Publicly when something of that nature happens, they have to say something. The idea that Australian passports are being forged for the use of assassination and covert operations is a pretty bad look. Privately, that’s not seen as a major problem and I understand the relationship between both countries is largely unaffected by it all.
In the case of Zygier, the relationship between the two governments has certainly worked more in Israel’s favour. In your opinion, is it more mutual than it appears?
Ultimately the relationship with Israel is fundamentally based on a question of intelligence sharing over issues like Iran and Hezbollah. Bob Carr’s comments in past six months expressing that all the Israeli colonies in the West Bank were illegal, has caused apoplexy. The Jewish community was incredibly pissed off with that, and the result was that they would much rather have had an Abbott government, and here we are. Not to say that was because of them of course, but they are much happier with that kind of governance.
One that props up the image of Israel?
Precisely. The Zygier case feeds into that image paranoia the Jewish establishment has. It looks as if Israel essentially abused or assaulted Zygier in some way, and when Israel is already perceived to be under attack for its countless, daily human rights abuses in the West Bank and Gaza, this is merely one more stake in the heart. If there’s a sense somehow that there beloved Israel could end up killing one of us, either through suicide or murder, that’s not a good look. It’s led to the shift of Israel’s image from this wonderfully social, left wing country to an occupier and brute.
There’s a real sense that the Zygier case, for a lot of people, was very clarifying and actually confirmed the belief that Israel is a rogue state that treats its own citizens badly. Zygier was an agent, yes, but with dual citizenship.
That’s all we really know about Zygier, could more information ever emerge?
Obviously a lot has emerged this year, and he was probably involved in some kind of covert action in relation to Hezbollah, and potentially monitoring in Europe what Iran was doing in relation to its nuclear program. It appears that he may well have committed suicide, and it’s far from impossible that he did so, we just don’t know. That information may come out at some point, but not for a long time.
Any information you could divulge from your own research that tells us of Zygier’s involvement in Mossad and his apparent suicide?
In terms of the actual details of what he was doing and how he died, I don’t know. That is far too difficult to discover from here. What I have investigated is the constipation of the Zionist establishment towards this kind of case. They’re embarrassed that it will be seen that an Australian citizen has essentially become a traitor to his own country and undertaken activities by a foreign country, which in Australian law could well be illegal, that is the fundamental point.
The media is once again filled with Middle East “experts” pontificating about the prospects of Obama-led “peace talks” in the Middle East between Israel and Palestine. There’s zero chance of a just outcome. The occupation deepens by the day.
I was interviewed by the current affairs show The Wire to discuss the reality on the ground:
I’m currently on a seemingly never-ending book tour for Profits of Doom and this week I spoke at a packed event at Stanton Library in North Sydney (the audio is here for 24 September). It was a great opportunity to engage with people, many of whom were over 60, on issues that too rarely receive coverage in the mainstream media. We should never-estimate the passion, commitment and anger over human rights abuses in the wider community.
I recently appeared on Eagle Waves Radio – a small outlet in the heart of Sydney – alongside my co-writers Jane Caro and Simon Smart. We were interviewed by Kerry Chikarovski, a former NSW Liberal leader, commentator and businesswoman.
This was enjoyable. On Sunday an extended interview with John Safran and Father Bob, hosts of Triple J’s Sunday Night Safran, was aired and we discussed detention centres, Serco, Palestine, Haiti, Afghanistan, private war, BDS, democracy and human rights: