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.

Public talk on From Iraq to Gaza: The Politics of Fear

Last Friday I gave the following speech at Sydney’s Lebanese Muslim Association forum on terrorism, Gaza, ISIS and Western governments spreading fear and anger towards the Islamic faith. Labor MP Tony Burke and Liberal MP Craig Laundy both pledged to bring harmony to the community and yet both their parties have flamed bigotry. Government surveillance is clearly mostly targeted towards Muslims and honest politicians would acknowledge it.

Here’s my speech:

–       Thanks to Andrew Bolt and the Murdoch press for mentioning tonight’s event this week; it’s clearly a threat to public order to be critical of Israel and the “war on terror”.

–       It’s a shame there are no women on this panel discussing the effects of war, terrorism and the Middle East from the group that often suffers the most from counter-terrorism policies as well as Zionist and Muslim extremism.

–       We must resist fear without question.

–       We must resist the narrative being sold to us about Palestine and Israel, so-called Western “humanitarian intervention” and government spin over the supposed terrorist threat.

–       We must resist the pressure placed on vulnerable communities to accept collective guilt for the actions of a few. I believe the Muslim leadership needs to more vigorously refuse to co-operate so closely with governments and intelligence bodies that aim to bring mass surveillance on the Muslim and wider communities.

–       A recent report in the US, through documents leaked by NSA whistle-blower Edward Snowden, found that the NSA and FBI have been secretly monitoring for years thousands of Muslims with no connection to terrorism at all, along with a handful of potential extremists. Some of the most prominent Muslim spokespeople in the US are now suing the US government for being caught in an unaccountable system with no chance to defend themselves.

–       Another recent report, from another NSA whistle-blower, revealed that the Obama administration has placed over 680,000 people on its secretive Terrorist Screening Database with more than 40% of these individuals having no connection to terrorism.

–       With our closeness to the US, there’s every reason to believe the Muslim community in Australia is equally under suspicion. The Muslim response should not be acquiescence with the state, the AFP or ASIO but demands to know the evidence explaining why collective guilt has become the defacto policy from Canberra. It is unacceptable and does not make us safer.

–       Let’s speak out against the barbarity of ISIS and Al-Qaeda and understand why this hatred is brewing in our midst. It’s because of failings in education, language, parenthood, attention, imams, government actions, Western foreign policy hypocrisy and atrocities in Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine, Libya and beyond. We have a responsibility to challenge fundamentalism and understand its roots to reduce it.

–       I speak to you as an atheist, Jewish, Australian, proud of my heritage but ashamed of Israeli actions. A few years ago my friend Peter Slezak and I founded Independent Australian Jewish Voices to highlight the growth in Jewish dissent over the Middle East. Not all Jews are Zionists and increasingly across the world young Jews are speaking out against the Israeli occupation of Palestine and wars in Gaza. Not in our name.

–       Jews who speak out against Israel are often demonised, harassed and threatened. But recent actions in Gaza, the brutality, death and destruction, have unleashed a growth in Jewish dissent around the world.

–       Anti-Semitism must never be tolerated. It must be challenged and crushed. This conflict isn’t about Jews versus Arabs. It’s about Zionism colonising Arab lands. Remember that many Jews are proudly Jewish and proudly anti-Zionist.

–      500 South African Jews, from a traditionally strongly Zionist community, recently signed a public letter that read in part: “Just as we resist anti-Semitism, we refuse to dehumanise Palestinians in order to make their deaths lighter on our collective conscience. We sign this statement in order to affirm their humanity and our own. We distance ourselves from South African Jewish organizations whose blind support for Israel’s disproportionate actions moves us further from a just resolution to the conflict.”

–       This is the kind of humane Judaism of which I can be proud.

–       One of the finest Israeli, Jewish journalists, Gideon Levy, explained this week what is at stake and why we must stay vigilant and outspoken: “A wave of animosity is washing over world public opinion. In contrast to the complacent, blind, smug Israeli public opinion, people abroad saw the pictures in Gaza and were aghast. No conscientious person could have remained unaffected. The shock was translated into hatred toward the state that did all that, and in extreme cases the hatred also awakened anti-Semitism from its lair. Yes, there is anti-Semitism in the world, even in the 21st century, and Israel has fuelled it. Israel provided it with abundant excuses for hatred. But not every anti-Israeli sentiment is anti-Semitism. The opposite is true – most of the criticism of Israel is still substantive and moral. Anti-Semitism, racist as any national hatred, popped up on the sidelines of this criticism – and Israel is indirectly responsible for its appearance.”

–       The media frames this issue as between two equal sides fighting over land and autonomy. The press says it’s “complicated”, that only certain perspectives should be heard, namely Zionist lobbyists and the occasional Palestinian or Arab. This is a lie. For too long, spokespeople from the Jewish establishment claim that their community speaks in one voice over Israel. They say they’re against terrorism and want peace. But what about state terrorism, unleashed by Israel and Australia and the US in Iraq and Afghanistan? Their dangerous tendency to conflate anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism leads to public skepticism over their cause.

–       In reality, this conflict is about occupation of Palestinian land, since 1948, and the legitimate rights of both Jews and Arabs to live in peace in Palestine. I have seen the reality of this situation with my own eyes in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza and found warmth, resistance, hardship, destruction of neighbourhoods and a desire for peace. But there cannot be a true and sustainable peace without justice, the Palestinian Right of Return and an end to the decades-long occupation.

–       Shamefully, successive Australian governments have indulged Israeli actions for too long. As a result, Canberra is now a fringe player on the world stage, unable to even acknowledge that East Jerusalem is “occupied”. The rise of Israeli fascism, endorsed by the Israeli government, is largely ignored in the West.

–       But there is hope. The last ten years have seen an explosion of new media that allows a stunning diversity of views. During the recent Gaza conflict, we all consumed tweets, Facebook posts, blogs and mainstream news from countless sources inside Gaza. Some were Gazans, able to communicate their plight online to the world, and others were brave professional reporters, such as Jon Snow from Britain’s Channel 4, who were unafraid to document the horrors unleashed by Israel on the people of Gaza.

–       In Australia Palestinian writers and commentators are occasionally heard though far too rarely. There is still timidity. Here’s an example. I was recently asked to appear on a popular current affairs TV show to debate a Zionist lobbyist. The lobbyist refused to show up alongside me so the TV producer cut the segment. Without a strong pro-Israel voice it was deemed impossible to have the story. How many times is a pro-Israel voice appearing alone on our TV screens? Regularly. A robust discussion over Israel and Palestine is healthy and necessary within the Jewish community but just featuring a Jewish dissident, on my own, was clearly a bridge too far. Why not have a Jew and Palestinian discuss the issues calmly and passionately?

–       The boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement is surging in popularity. From public moves against Sodastream for operating a factory in the occupied territories to European countries selling stakes in Israeli banks that bankroll the occupation. I strongly support BDS and encourage its growth in Australia. I hope the Muslim community more fully embraces this non-violent tactic, by lobbying politicians, businesses and the media to force Israel and its financial and intellectual backers to pay a price for flouting international law.

–       Of course Israel isn’t the only guilty party in the Middle East. One of the most pernicious actors is the US-backed Saudi Arabia, spreading poisonous Wahabism across the world. Extremism lives in Iraq, Syria, Libya, Palestine, Egypt, Yemen and Iran. Do not be afraid to confront the radicals in our own communities, those who preach death, beheadings and violent jihad.

–       We must resist with purpose. 


Why BDS must be supported for justice in the Middle East

My weekly Guardian column is published today:

The boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement, a thriving Palestinian-led initiative that attacks institutional links to Israel’s illegal settlements, has been gaining in popularity. In Australia, the movement has been slowly growing as Israel continues to defy international law – and it now faces one of its greatest opportunities in the court of public opinion.

Shurat HaDin – Israel Law Center is an Israel-based organisation that claims to be a civil group “fighting for rights of hundreds of terror victims”. It is currently taking Jake Lynch, head of Sydney University’sCentre for Peace and Conflict Studies (CPACS), to the Australian federal court. They assert that Lynch has allegedly breached the 1975 racial discrimination act by refusing to sponsor a fellowship application by Israeli academic Dan Avnon. Lynch and CPACS support BDS, and since Avnon works at Hebrew University – a key intellectual hub which is targeted by boycotters for allegedly being complicit in the establishment of illegal settlements – Lynch declined to be named as a reference.

The story has been largely ignored. Fairfax Media has not touched it, and ABC TV’s 7.30 only briefly addressed it last week. Instead, it is Rupert Murdoch’s The Australian which has been driving the debate on the issue, publishing countless stories that deliberately conflates antisemitism and support for the BDS movement.

Just last week, after the horrific bashing of Jewish men in Sydney, the paper featured a Holocaust survivor on its front page condemning the attack. Within the article was the rhetorical device of inserting comment about BDS – as if physically assaulting Jewish people was on the same spectrum as a peaceful, non-violent attempt to force Israel to abide by international law. Bizarrely, an op-ed published by Newscorp’s The Telegraph also said that the best response to the assaults was to support Max Brenner – the chocolate shop whose parent company, the Strauss Group, has been a target of BDS protestors for supporting the Israeli Defence Force.

Countless letters have since been published in The Australian reinforcing a correlation between antisemitism and the boycott – following this logic, Lynch and his backers are a threat to public order. This also ignores the nearly 2,000 signatories of a public petition backing Lynch (which a number of academics, including the co-founder of Independent Australian Jewish VoicesPeter Slezak, signed).

Last week, The Australian ran an editorial which implied that Lynch blocked Avnon’s academic credentials simply because he was an Israeli. Another front page story in the paper last week claimed that Hebrew University is a bastion of Jewish and Arab co-operation, yet ignored an example of the institution repressing Palestinian rights through its connections to the arms industry.

Lynch tells me that Shurat HaDin have deliberately skewed his BDS stance. He denies, despite what the group’s Australian lawyer Andrew Hamilton said on ABC TV last week, having “admitted” that he boycotted Avnon because he was Israeli. He told me:

“I have made it abundantly clear from the start that the policy is aimed at institutional links. If the Hebrew University is anything like the University of Sydney, then it probably employs academics from various backgrounds in terms of religious affiliation and country of origin. It would not make any difference to my or the CPACS’ policy if the applicant was originally from Belgium, Botswana or Bolivia – I believe the University of Sydney should revoke its part in the Sir Zelman Cowen and Technion fellowship schemes, and I reserve my right not to collaborate with them. Andrew Hamilton has clearly not paid serious attention to our policy, or to what I have actually done in pursuit of it.”

It’s worth noting that Avnon, endlessly praised in the Australian media as a humanist who believes in co-operation between Israelis and Palestinians, sits on Israeli group Metzilah’s General Assembly. This is a group that put out a report explicitly rejecting the Palestinian right of return to lands stolen by Israel, and claims that a Jewish state discriminating against equal rights for Palestinians is not problematic. It is worth noting that the Palestinian right of return is a requirement in international law.

Largely missing from the ferocious media coverage has been any information about the real agenda of Shurat HaDin. The organisation, according to Wikileaks documents, has strong links to Israeli intelligence and Mossad, just one of the many groups that now prosecutes Israel’s argument for the Jewish state. The law firm tried to sue Twitter for daring to host Hizbollah tweets, former US President Jimmy Carter for criticising Israel and Stephen Hawking for damning the Israeli occupation. Even the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, a leading Zionist lobby, refuses to endorse Shurat HaDin’s case against Lynch, pointing out that attempts to suppress the campaign through litigation are inappropriate.

Also absent from the debate is the reason BDS exists. It is growing due to a complete lack of faith in US-led peace talks. American journalist Max Blumenthal recently published a book, Goliath: Life and Loathing in Greater Israel, which shows in forensic detail the reality of the Israeli mainstream’s embrace of blatant racism against Arabs and Africans. This isn’t what the Israel Shurat HaDin and its fellow travellers want the world to see. Indeed, Australian Israel lobby AIJAC responded to the latest BDS case against Lynch by completely ignoring illegal settlements altogether. This week Dean Sherr, a young lobbyist, wrote an entire column in The Australian about BDS without mentioning their existence.

The fear of BDS is reflected in the massive amount of money and resources Israel is spending to stop it. Instead of moving towards a democratic state for all its citizens, Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu continues to demolish Palestinian homes and build illegal colonies on Palestinian land.

Shurat HaDin’s Australian lawyer, Andrew Hamilton, told Haaretz last week that BDS “does nothing to help Palestinians and indeed harms them. It is merely an excuse for the vilest public antisemitic campaign the western world has seen since the Holocaust.” With such a statement, which essentially compares Jake Lynch to a Nazi, it’s no wonder Zionist advocates are losing the public relations battle globally.

For some of us on the left, using the racial discrimination act as a tool to silence views we find distasteful is deeply worrying – I write this as somebody who opposed the legal case against News Limited columnist Andrew Bolt in 2011. A real democracy is a place where any individual has the right to vehemently oppose colluding with an overseas university institution that disputes equal rights for Jews and Arabs.

I look forward to Australia’s leading public backers of free speech, such as Bolt, Miranda Devine and the Institute of Public Affairs, loudly backing Lynch. Somehow I think I’ll be waiting a while for these brave advocates to find their voice.


What’s happening inside Australia’s Zionist establishment

It ain’t pretty. The last years have seen an increasingly radical and racist minority dictating that you’re either pro-settler or nothing. Nice try, old white men. As Israel officially proudly says that the occupation is permanent and Arabs can just suck it up, there’s been a recent debate in Australia that has been unwittingly led by a friend and my co-founder of Independent Australian Jewish Voices, Peter Slezak.

Here’s a feature in Haaretz that outlines the current dust-up. Note how the entire piece doesn’t mention the Palestinians. I mean, hell, what’s more relevant than arguing about who gets to speak about Israel while ignoring the main reason Zionism is about as globally respected as Qaddafi?

SYDNEY – Accusations of bullying, blackmail and “carpet bombing” by Zionist leaders, threats of withholding six-figure sums by Jewish donors, and claims of “subterfuge” and “cloak and dagger” politics against progressive voices are poisoning the debate Down Under on Israel.

“I don’t recall a time when our community has been so divided,” said Dr. Mark Baker, the director of the Center for the Study of Jewish Civilization at Melbourne’s Monash University, during a heated debate on Israel at the annual Limmud Oz conference the weekend of June 16.

Baker, who also sits on the New Israel Fund of Australia’s advisory board, savaged the campaign to “delegitimize” Jews, which he says has created a “toxic atmosphere” in Australia.

“[They are] attacking Jews who are mainstream, whose very core is support and love for Israel, and trying to marginalize them and turn them into enemies of Israel, enemies of the Jewish community,” Baker said, referring to supporters of the New Israel Fund, among others.

“The politics of power is trying to silence and to bully those voices into belonging to this so-called one tent, which is actually a right-wing tent.”

But Philip Chester, president of the Zionist Federation of Australia, denied the allegations as “not just completely false but defamatory.”

“Spreading falsehoods and making these very personal, nasty allegations is an attempt by some to undermine or delegitimize a viewpoint they don’t agree with but that very many in our community do,” Chester told Haaretz. “Why is our conduct characterized as bullying and the other noble? I simply don’t accept that we are so divided on Israel,” he added.

The annual two-day Limmud conference drew record numbers of about 1200 people last weekend in Sydney, featuring more than 200 presentations by some 175 speakers, including a record number from overseas, among them Israeli scholar and commentator Daniel Gordis, veteran journalist Ron Ben-Yishai and back-channel negotiator Gershon Baskin.

But the controversial admission of one Australian presenter triggered a sequence of events that became the bitter backdrop to what many claim is the highlight of the Jewish calendar in Australia.

Dr. Peter Slezak, an arch-critic of Israel and a co-founder of the left-wing Independent Australian Jewish Voices, was barred from speaking at Limmud in 2011 and 2012.

But his presentation on “The Wicked Son: Confessions of a Self-Hating Jew” was allowed by the newly formed Limmud board after he pledged not to veer into Israeli politics and agreed to have a Limmud representative moderate his packed session.

As a result of his inclusion, the Limmud board said it had been subject to “a campaign of ugly bullying and an attempted boycott,” even though it did reject some presenters, including Vivienne Porzsolt, an outspoken activist for Jews Against the Occupation.

Slezak’s admission provoked several community powerbrokers to either refuse to attend or refuse to present at Limmud. Dr Ron Weiser, a Zionist stalwart and committee member of the Jewish Agency, neither presented nor attended, infuriated that organizers backtracked on “written commitments” regarding “red lines” in 2011.

“The communal leadership does not see any reason why a leading member of the Independent Australian Jewish Voices should be given a platform,” he told Haaretz.

But some critics accused Weiser, who helped spearhead an anti-NIF campaign when it launched here in 2011, of behaving like the “thought police” of the community.

One incensed Jewish leader blasted him and others, including Zionist Council of NSW president Richard Balkin, for “carpet-bombing” those who don’t toe the Israel PR line.

Weiser, lauded by some senior officials as Israel’s leading advocate in Australia, declined to be drawn on the allegations.

But Haaretz understands that he and Hilton Immerman, chief executive of the Shalom Institute, which plays a pivotal part in organizing Limmud, have been embroiled in a longstanding war of words that resulted in Weiser recently apologizing for accusing Immerman of “a form of communal vandalism.” Immerman declined to comment.

Limmud’s decision to provide Slezak a platform also prompted Stanley Roth, an honorary life president of the United Israel Appeal, to threaten to withhold an estimated $100,000-plus donation to the communal purse, although he later backed down.

Roth told Haaretz that he and several other donors were “very concerned” by the Limmud board’s decision. “It’s totally wrong for communal resources to be used to give platforms to people whose views are anathema to Israel,” he said.

By contrast, Karen Loblay, a board member of NIF, was so outraged by “thinly veiled threats” made against the Limmud board that she declined to donate at the recent community appeal function.

The maelstrom prompted Michala Lander, a co-chair of Limmud, to send a withering email to Yair Miller, president of the Jewish Board of Deputies in Sydney.

“Before today, I considered myself to be a future leader of this community,” she said in her email, which was leaked to Haaretz. “However, after this event, I have no interest in being involved with a community that practices such bullying tactics [and] blackmail.”

The executive of the Board of Deputies passed a resolution last week saying that “conduct that denigrates or defames any individual or organization in the community is unacceptable conduct, as is any attempt to pressure or intimidate others into not participating in or attending Limmud-Oz.”

NIF Australia president Robin Margo welcomed the resolution, but noted that there was no similar support when personal attacks were directed at NIF’s Australian leaders and former MK Naomi Chazan and former Haaretz editor-in-chief David Landau during their visits to Australia. (Full disclosure: Dan Goldberg helped organize media for Naomi Chazan and David Landau’s visits to Australia.)

“The Board of Deputies took no effective action when it first became aware of personal vilification,” Margo told Haaretz. “But thankfully, now that similar conduct has been alleged in relation to Limmud-Oz organizers, the executive has emphatically declared its opinion that such conduct is unacceptable in our community.”

Some accuse Limmud of being overrun by progressive, left-leaning Zionists, while others accuse the establishment of narrowcasting Zionism and muzzling dissent. Either way, Limmud appears to have been at the vortex of a deepening fault-line between conservative and progressive Zionists that dates back to the bitter feud when NIF was founded here, if not before.

In an email to colleagues amid the brouhaha, one Limmud board member wrote: “The battle for a more open, more adult, less thought-policed community is a long one and will not be won overnight. But Limmud-Oz 2013 will hopefully turn out to be a little victory that needs to be fought again until the norms are changed.”


Australian Zionist lobby media complaint rejected as a pest

Earlier in the year, after the ABC broke a massive story about an Australian man Ben Zygier spying for Mossad and dying in an Israeli jail, there was a great deal of media coverage that questioned the ways in which some Jews saw their relationship with the Israeli state. I was interviewed on ABC Radio AM and predictably elements within the Zionist lobby complained that I was invited and allowed to breath on the air.

The ABC has rejected the complaint and it’s posted below. The fact that the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, a supposedly serious organisation, thinks it’s appropriate to try and censor perspectives that challenge Israel and its policies indicates a profound arrogance and insecurity about its role in society and how it believes its key responsibility is dedication to the Israeli government. Media groups should be well aware of this and act accordingly:

complaint to the ABC by The Executive Council of Australian Jewry following a radio interview with journalist Antony Loewenstein dealing with the activities of the late Ben Zygier has been dismissed by the national broadcaster.

In a statement released this week, the ECAJ said:

The ABC has dismissed a complaint made by the Executive Council of Australian Jewry (ECAJ) about an interview on ABC Radio’s ‘Saturday AM’ program on 13 February 2013 conducted by presenter, Elizabeth Jackson, with commentator Antony Loewenstein.
The ECAJ complained that false claims were made about the supposed ‘dual loyalties’ of Jewish Australians, and that the interviewee making those claims was doing so without evidence, qualifications, expertise or representative status in any part of the Jewish community.

According to ECAJ Executive Director, Peter Wertheim, “During the interview, without evidence or substantiation of any kind, the entirely baseless suggestion was made that there is a relationship between ‘the Jewish establishment in Australia’ and ‘the Mossad, and indeed Israeli intelligence’ which facilitates and encourages Jews from a young age to join up and fight with the IDF and the Mossad.”

Wertheim was especially critical of the Saturday AM program. “It is supposed to be a fact-based news program, not a chat show with entire segments devoted merely to uncontested expressions of opinion. Where were the tough questions, or any questions, asking Loewenstein to provide evidence for his completely unfounded assertions? Isn’t that what fact based program interviewers are supposed to do? Isn’t it their role to elicit the factual basis of opinions expressed by their guests, if any exist?”

“The ABC’s answers to our complaints are either not responsive to the specific matters we raised, or evaded the issue, or were disingenuous”, Wertheim said. “The answers consist for the most part of simple denials that anything untoward was being implied, and irrelevant assertions that Loewenstein has a right to express his opinions”.
Wertheim does not believe there would be any point in the ECAJ pursuing an appeal to the Australian Communications and Media Authority, but noted that this would not be the end of the matter. “The ABC launched a baseless attack on Australian Jews, with insinuations of disloyalty, by interviewing someone who the ABC itself describes as a ‘provocateur’. The ABC has now demonstrated that the process whereby one section of the ABC investigates another does not work”, he said.

The ABC response to the complaint as reported in J-Wire…

Thank you for your letter of 19 February 2013 regarding the recent AM interview with Antony Loewenstein.

Your concerns have been investigated by Audience and Consumer Affairs, a unit which is separate to and independent of program making areas within the ABC. We have reviewed the broadcast and assessed it against the ABC’s editorial standards for accuracy, impartiality and harm and offence as well as considering information provided by the program.

The program has explained that this short interview with Antony Loewenstein was intended to provide a peispective cn the highly ne.,^rs’*cfihy story cf the Australian rnan Ben Zygier”s death in an lsrae!! prison, which had broken that week. As a commentator and opinion writer who is often critical of mainstream lsraeli and Jewish organisations for their approach to issues of state security, military service and middle-eastern politics, Mr Loewenstein presented a relevant perspective on the case of the so-called “prisoner X”.

1. Given the context of the discussion was the mysterious and perplexing case of “prisonerX” and his secret detention in an Israeli prison for suspected espionage-related crimes while working for the Mossad, we believe it was reasonable that the report’s introduction referred to “the most secretive workings of the Jewish state”. Audience and Consumer Affairs note that the term “Jewish state” is frequently used to describe lsrael, and the country’s Basic Laws refer to lsrael as the Jewish State. We have concluded that the use of the term in this broadcast did not have sinister or subliminal intent as you suggest, and was in keeping with ABC editorial standards.

2. Having died in detention in Israel under mysterious circumstances and seemingly harsh conditions, Audience and Consumer Affairs are satisfied that it was relevant and a matter of public interest for the program to question why Ben Zygier’s family had remained silent on the matter.

We have concluded that the reference to the “silence from the Australian Jewish community” was in keeping with the accuracy standards in section 2 of the ABC Code of Practice.

ABC News management has advised that the program’s production team worked for several days seeking principal relevant perspectives from the Jewish community on this issue and even in the rare instances where comment was obtained, it was of a vague and non-committal nature. I have reviewed the interview with Philip Chester on Radio National Breakfast that you reference in your correspondence and note that he was unable, or unwilling, to engage with any of the issues put to him regarding this case. In virtually every instance, he clearly stated that he was not in a position, or did not have sufficient knowledge, of the issues to speak to them;

PHILIP CHESTER: “Everything that surrounds it, what actually happened to Ben,is just speculation that I can’t add to.”

Audience and Consumer Affairs are satisfied that AM’s description of the silence as “perplexing” accurately reflected the complexity and mystery of the case.

3. The program’s introduction of Mr Loewenstein as the “Co-founder of Independent Australian Jewish Voices” was accurate and provided sufficient context about his perspective. We are satisfied that this reference was not misleading to the program’s audience. As noted above, as a commentator and opinion writer who is often critical of mainstream Israeli and Jewish organisations for their approach to issues of state security, military service and middle-eastern politics, he presented a relevant perspective on the case of the so-called “prisoner X”. In regard to your statement that the ABC seeks Mr Loewenstein’s view “frequently as a commentator about Israel”, AM has provided the following statement;

“We could only find two previous uses of Mr Loewenstein in the AM program, one from 2010 when he was commenting on a book launched by the Opposition Leader Tony Abbott, and another from 2009 when he was involved in an international protest over Israel’s a blockade of Gaza.”

4. The claim that “the journalist says the case involving Ben Zygier should be a wake-up call to the community in Melbourne and Sydney to re-examine the way young Jewish youths are educated at religious schools in Australia” was clearly attributed as Mr Loewenstein’s personal opinion and was not presented as a statement cf fact that ls beyond dispute.

In response to your concerns, AM has provided the following comments:

“Although Antony Lowenstein did not attend a religious school, many of his friends and associates did. He grew up as part of the Australian Jewish community in Melbourne and through his associates, is familiar with what is taught in Jewish schools.

Mr Lowenstein mentioned Jewish schools in an attempt to illustrate his belief that Australian Jews are taught that to be “the best Jew they can, they should spend some time in Israel. lt is Mr Lowenstein’s belief that young Australian Jews are told this in religious schools. This is the only connection Mr Lowenstein drew between the Ben Zygier case and religious schools in Australia”.

Audience and Consumer Affairs are satisfied this was a suitably relevant issue for inclusion within the context of the broadcast and did not, as you suggest, “feed into the propagation of anti-Jewish stereotypes.”

5. Mr Loewenstein’s view that Australian Jews ‘need to rethink the wisdom of a culture which encourages young men and women to join the Israeli military” was clearly attributed as his opinion, based on his personal experience, and we are satisfied that he is entitled to express that view about a culture of which he was a part, growing up in the Jewish community in Melbourne.

6. Please refer to our response to point 2 above.

7. In the interview Lowenstein called for public discussion about “the relationship between the Jewish establishment in Australia and the Israeli government, and indeed Mossad, and indeed Israeli intelligence and the Israeli embassy.” He did not make any accusations or suggestions of improper dealings, he merely called for public debate, in light of the Ben Zygier case. An interviewee calling for public discussion does not breach the ABC’s Code of Practice.

8. Audience and Consumer Affairs note that in November last year, the ABC current affairs program 7.30 broadcast a report on young Jewish Australians who were following a long tradition of ‘making Aliyah’ and preparing to travel to Israel. The program’s research confirmed that in the past four years more than 400 Australian Jews had made the move and most had completed compulsory military service in the lDF. Those who featured in the report spoke passionately about their active support for Israel.

Audience and Consumer Affairs are satisfied that the issue of encouragement and facilitation of young Australian Jews travelling to, living in and serving Israel was suitably newsworthy and relevant for inclusion in the AM discussion and is in keeping with the accuracy standards in section 2 of the ABC Code of Practice.

9. Having asserted his view that Jewish institutions facilitated a certain culture, we are satisfied that it was relevant for the interviewer to follow up with a question asking for more detailed information, asking Mr Loewenstein whether he believed that the culture was perpetuated in synagogues, because they are important community gathering places. This question did not invite Mr Loewenstein to “denigrate observance in synagogues generally of the Jewish faith’ or to “invite uninformed speculation by Loewenstein” as you claim. Lowenstein responded by qualifying that ‘Now this sort of stuff  I’m not saying is regularly discussed openly in synagogues in Sydney or Melbourne – it’s not. “We are satisfied that this relevant question and the response did not as you suggest “feed into the propagation of anti-Jewish stereotypes.”

10. We note your comment regarding Mr Loewenstein’s reference to Australian Jews being “sent” to Israel. We do not believe that Loewenstein was claiming that young Australia Jews are deliberately travelling to Israel with the intention of joining Mossad. He was suggesting that this is a possible outcome (as in the case of Ben Zygier) and the Australian Jewish community would do well to discuss it.

There was no editorial requirement for the interviewer to request the interviewee provide “supporting evidence” to substantiate the opinions he expressed on the issues raised in the broadcast. Mr Loewenstein’s perspective was not presented as factual content or the definitive, accepted position on the issues examined in the interview. He was introduced as the “Co-founder of Independent Australian Jewish Voices” and we believe it would be clear to the program’s audience that he was expressing a critical, counter view to the mainstream Jewish community in Australia. As you have noted, he is known as a provocateur who has published inflammatory material and he is renowned as a critic of many lsraeli policies. We are satisfied that the program’s audience would not have taken his comments as established facts, but rather his own personal views.

We are satisfied there was a clear editorlal context in which to raise the issues posed by the interviewer and we cannot agree that she engaged in “anti-Jewish speculation”.

ABC News management has explained that AM made attempts to contact a range of representatives from the Australian Jewish community, but none were willing to participate in an alternate interview. In light of this, the program believed it relevant and newsworthy to raise the issue of why people were not willing to speak publicly on the matter, with Mr Loewenstein. Audience and Consumer Affairs are satisfied that the program made reasonable efforts to seek and include a range of perspectives and and that the broadcast did not unduly favour any one view over another. The fact that others chose not to comment did not preclude the program from discussing the matter with Mr Loewenstein.

On review, we are satisfied that it was newsworthy and a matter of public interest to question why the Zygier family chose to remain silent on the matter. There was a clear editorial context for that issue; it was not raised gratuitously and it was not in breach of the editorial requirements of 7.1 of the ABC Code of Practice.

Audience and Consumer Affairs have concluded that this broadcast did not engage in the unjustified use of stereotypes or discriminatory content that could reasonably be interpreted as condoning or encouraging prejudice. We are satisfied that it was in keeping with the requirements of clause 7.7 of the ABC Code of Practice.

I have enclosed a copy of the ABC Code of Practice for your reference.


Max Brenner soon to open at leading Australian university?

Max Brenner is a chocolate shop that deserves all the protests it receives, namely because it supports the Israeli military.

Here’s the latest development in Australia in a story by Ammy Singh in Tharunka newspaper from the University of NSW:

The probable opening of a Max Brenner chocolate store at UNSW this year has prompted concerned students to question the decision to allow on campus a corporation affiliated with elements of the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF), who are accused of war crimes against the Palestinian people.

Acting President of Students for Justice in Palestine UNSW, Ali Hosseini, told Tharunka that he was disappointed that a respected academic institution such as the university would “stoop so low as to do business with Max Brenner”, demanding the university withdraw from working with the company.

Concerns with Max Brenner stem from the global Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign, formed in 2005 by 171 Palestinian non-government organisations, with the aim of securing the self-determination of the Palestinian people by exercising non-violent punitive measures against the Israeli state.

The owner of the Max Brenner chain, the Israeli conglomerate Strauss Group, supports and provides “care rations” for the Israeli military, including the Golani and Givati brigades of the IDF. Both brigades stand accused of war crimes in the Palestinian territories during the 2008/09 Gaza War, which saw the deaths of over 1300 Palestinians, the majority of whom were civilians.

Israel has refused to cooperate with a United Nations investigation into the war, and has also refused entry into Israel to Richard Falk, the UN’s special rapporteur on human rights in the Palestinian territories, since his appointment in 2008.

According to Hosseini, it is this link to the Strauss Group that implicates Max Brenner, and in turn UNSW, in the human rights abuses of the Israeli state. “Support for a company like Max Brenner is support for military occupation and settlement expansion on Palestinian land,” he said.

“UNSW hosts a wide range of students from around the world who are very much concerned with the ethical and humanitarian issues surrounding the business deals UNSW engages in.”

However, the move to allow a Max Brenner store on campus comes after the chocolate shop was identified in the top three food and beverage outlet suggestions by students and staff in the 2011 Retail Survey conducted by UNSW.

The survey was completed by nearly 7000 students and staff, the most successful participation rate of any survey conducted by UNSW.

Neil Morris, Vice-President of University Services, told Tharunka the results of the 2011 Retail Survey “drove almost 100 per cent” the eventual decisions as to which food outlets to allow on campus.

Steven Tropoulos, Property Services Manager at Facilities Management, also cited experiential and commercial concerns as deciding factors in addition to the survey results, but added, “It wasn’t an autocratic decision; it was a democratic process.”

Morris agreed, “Did everybody get a vote? Obviously not. But was everybody asked to have a vote? Yes.”

Morris confirmed Max Brenner had placed a tender to lease retail space at UNSW, and was selected by the university due to — amongst financial considerations — the ability of the company to fulfil the demand for a chocolate store as indicated in the 2011 Retail Survey.

“I think it’s a very big jump to say the university is implicitly condoning the actions of war criminals by doing business with Max Brenner,” Morris said, while acknowledging students are entitled to hold a different opinion on the BDS campaign against the company.

“We’re not doing anything different to what many [local] councils do in letting Max Brenner stores open. Our view would be that we’re putting a provider of chocolate on campus; a provider that people are happy to have on campus.”

Sabina Baunin, President of the Australasian Union of Jewish Students UNSW, also contended the Max Brenner store will be a popular addition to campus food outlets.

“I think members of the UNSW community at large might be a bit disappointed if fringe groups turn this into something political, when the students really just want to enjoy some incredible chocolate.”

Antony Loewenstein, co-founder of Independent Australian Jewish Voices, told Tharunka such views ignore the political positions of corporations, and fail to acknowledge the complicity of Max Brenner in the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories.

“The reality is this is not just a chocolate shop. There has been a deliberate attempt by the organisation to normalise the shop, but corporations don’t operate in a moral, legal and ethical vacuum,” he said. “Max Brenner has made a determined effort for a number of years to be directly connected to the IDF.”

“I would say to university management that if you open a Max Brenner on campus, you are guaranteeing legitimate peaceful protest against that shop. And if that’s the kind of attraction you want to have at the university, then go right ahead.”

SRC Ethnic Affairs Officer, Charlotte Lewis, expressed scepticism at the likelihood of a BDS campaign against Max Brenner succeeding at UNSW.

“As university students in Sydney, I feel we should be focussing more on university life and life in Australia, rather than protesting things that are really beyond anyone’s control in Australia,” she said. “However, it’s good to protest if students want to get their voices heard.”

UNSW student Bec Hynek, member of the Palestine Action Group Sydney and Jews Against the Occupation, said Australian university students have a history of protesting global concerns.

“Students have often been at the forefront of being opposed to apartheid in South Africa and being involved in anti-war movements. It’s students especially who have a stake in not accepting [Max Brenner] on our campus.”

Loewenstein agreed. “Having spent a lot of time in Palestine, it does make a difference to people there under occupation to feel like individuals or groups on the other side of the world are providing political and moral support to their cause.”

Noted American political critic and author, Noam Chomsky, told Tharunka that participation in the BDS campaign is a valid means of protest for individuals worldwide against corporations, such as Max Brenner, affiliated with the Israeli state.

“There is no serious doubt that all Israeli settlements and development in the occupied territories are in violation of core principles of international law. This has been determined by every relevant authority: the United Nations Security Council, the International Court of Justice and, in the case of the Golan Heights and Jerusalem, Security Council resolutions specific to those cases. Israel’s leading legal authorities advised the government that all settlements programs are in violation of international law in late 1967, when the programs were being initiated.

“Human Rights Watch has urged the US government to withhold funding to Israel ‘in an amount equivalent to its expenditures on settlements and related infrastructure in the West Bank’, and to bar tax exemption from organisations ‘that support settlements and settlement-related activities’.

“The same considerations hold for individuals. It is their responsibility to avoid any support for Israel’s illegal activities in the occupied territories. Individuals can meet this responsibility by participating in such activities as boycotts, and pressures for sanctions and divestment.

“These are entirely legitimate and demonstrably effective methods of non-violent action to oppose severe criminal acts, which are causing immense suffering and standing in the way of hope for a peaceful diplomatic resolution of the Israel-Palestine conflict.”

Max Brenner Australia declined the opportunity to comment on this issue, instead directing Tharunka to General Manager Yael Kaminski’s comments in The Australian, which staunchly deny any connection beyond brand ownership between the Strauss Group and Max Brenner Australia.


Oz Zio lobby complains and weeps to ABC about alternative Jewish views

During the recent Prisoner X story about Israel’s covert and often illegal terrorism in the Middle East, I was interviewed by ABC Radio AM on the related issues.

The Executive Council of Australian Jewry, a leading Zionist lobby group, sees its role as enforcing public debate over Israel/Palestine. They miserably fail at this, of course, but that won’t mean they won’t try. Really hard.

Their latest comedy routine involves sending a massive complaint, via its clearly exhausted head Peter Wertheim, to ABC about my appearance, accusing me of anti-Semitism and worse. It’s worth looking through their reasons for feeling hurt, upset, obsessed, damaged, punished and sore. What these pro-occupation “leaders” fail to understand, as public debate across the West is turning against apartheid Israel, is that their energy would be much better spent on actually addressing the myriad of issues in Palestine and Israel, like, um, an ever-expanding occupation, instead of trying to bully the public broadcaster. If nothing else, this plays into the worst stereotypes of under-handed Jewish behaviour. Another own goal; well done lobby.

The complaint:

Audience and Consumer Affairs
Australian Broadcasting Corporation

I write to express my concern about the segment on ABC Radio’s ‘Saturday AM’ program on 13 February 2013, comprising an interview by presenter,Elizabeth Jackson, of another journalist, Antony Loewenstein. A transcript of the interview is attached. An MP3 recording is accessible on the ABC website.
I consider that the segment involved gross breaches of the ABC’s Code of Practice 2011, which I will detail below.

The themes of the interview are encapsulated in a series of assertions in the introduction and in the interview itself. The principle assertions are itemized below. Our comments in response to these assertions appear in square brackets after each item.
1. “The most secretive workings of the Jewish state”. [Every State, including Israel, has “most secretive workings”. But to juxtapose the words “most secretive workings” with the word “Jewish”, instead of referring to “Israel” by name, appeals subliminally to notorious anti-Jewish stereotypes about the supposed power of Jews as a collective, and about Jews supposedly being engaged in a world conspiracy. Later in the interview other stereotypes are introduced impliedly accusing Jewish citizens of being more loyal to Israel, or to the alleged priorities of Jews worldwide, than to the interests of their own nations. These stereotypes are internationally recognized as among the hallmarks of anti-Jewish racism and prejudice – see Working Definition of Antisemitism as adopted by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights
( and the UK All-Party Parliamentary Committee on Antisemitism ( among others].

2. There are many perplexing elements to this story; one of them is the deafening silence.
Silence and gag orders from Israel, silence from the Australian Jewish community, and perhaps most perplexing of all, silence from Ben Zygier’s family. [The claim of “silence from the Australian Jewish community” was a blatant falsehood.
In point of fact, the previous day presenter, Fran Kelly, had conducted a detailed interview of the President of the Zionist Federation of Australia, Philip Chester, on ABC Radio National about the entire subject.1 Ms Jackson should have challenged Mr Loewenstein, with the fact of that interview, which also aired on the ABC. Further, silence from Ben Zygier’s relatives is a dignified and understandable response from a grieving family. To describe their silence as “perhaps most perplexing of all”, implies that the family’s response is in some sense aberrant and unnatural. In our view this was an unwarranted and disgraceful attempt to reflect adversely on a family in mourning.
3. Co-founder of Independent Australian Jewish Voices, Antony Loewenstein, says he believes the Jewish community in Australia is embarrassed. [The reference to Independent Australian Jewish Voices implies that Loewenstein has some kind of constituency within an identifiable section of the Australian Jewish community. On its website, Independent Australian Jewish Voices admits2 that it is not an organization with membership, decision-making procedures and a political platform, and that the small number of people who signed their original statement in March 2007, “probably won’t agree on anything else besides that statement they signed”. It is therefore misleading to suggest that Lowenstein has any constituency at all. Nor does he have any academic or scholarly credentials whatsoever, or any particular real-life experience that might explain why the ABC seeks him out so frequently as a commentator about Israel. Indeed, Antony Loewenstein published a grossly antisemitic ‘poster’ on his website on 11 and 12 July 2010 (Attachment AF).

The ECAJ sent an informal complaint to the Australian Human Rights Commission at 1:00pm on July 12 (Attachment AG). Later that day, Loewenstein removed the ‘poster’ from his website and published a retraction (Attachment AH).
4. The journalist says the case involving Ben Zygier should be a wake-up call to the community in Melbourne and Sydney to re-examine the way young Jewish youths (sic) are educated at religious schools in Australia.
[Without evidence or substantiation of any kind, or indeed any attempt to examine what “young Jewish youths” are in fact taught at Jewish schools in Australia, the assertion is made that there is some connection between the Ben Zygier case and what they are taught. Not only is this inaccurate, it feeds into the propagation of anti-Jewish stereotypes as referred to in our response to 1 above. I understand that Loewenstein never attended a Jewish school, “religious” or otherwise, and has no direct knowledge, let alone expertise, concerning their curricula or teachings.]

5. He says Australian Jews need to re-think the wisdom of a culture (sic) which encourages young men and women to join the Israeli military.
[Again, without evidence or substantiation of any kind, or indeed any attempt to examine the “culture” of the Australian Jewish community, the assertion is made that that culture encourages young men and women to join the Israeli military. Not only is this inaccurate, it feeds into the propagation of anti-Jewish stereotypes as referred to in our response to 1 above].
Then, in the body of the interview, Loewenstein makes the following assertions without contradiction or challenge from the presenter:

6. The Jewish community in Australia has taken the position of complete lockdown, where there has basically been virtually no comment about the details of the case. [See our response to 2 above].
7. There’s been virtually no comment about the relationship between the Jewish establishment in Australia and the Israeli government, and indeed Mossad, and indeed Israeli intelligence and the Israeli embassy.
[Yet again, without evidence or substantiation of any kind, the implication is made that there is a relationship between “the Jewish establishment in Australia” and “the Mossad, and indeed Israeli intelligence”. Not only is this inaccurate, it feeds into the propagation of anti-Jewish stereotypes as referred to in our response to 1 above].

8. The “Jewish communities in Sydney and Melbourne” facilitate and encourage Jews from a young age “to not just be involved with Israel, visit Israel, [but also] incredibly often fight with the IDF (Israeli Defence Force)… and indeed for that matter sometimes joining Mossad. [Yet again, without evidence or substantiation of any kind, the assertion is made that Jewish communal organisations in Australia facilitate and encourage Jews from a young age to join up and fight with the IDF and the Mossad. Not only is this inaccurate, it feeds into the propagation of anti-Jewish stereotypes as referred to in our response to 1 above].
At this point in the interview, the presenter, Elizabeth Jackson, chimes in, not to probe or challenge the interviewee, but to add her own unsubstantiated innuendo:
9. “perhaps it even happens in the synagogues, I don’t know – but how do they facilitate this kind of mentality”.
[Apparently not content with her interviewee’s denigration of the Jewish community, Ms Jackson now invites him to denigrate observance in synagogues generally of the Jewish faith. This is a particularly disturbing and disappointing feature of the interview.
Not only is the assertion inaccurate, it invites uninformed speculation by Loewenstein,who has more than once admitted that he does not attend synagogue, and it feeds into the propagation of anti-Jewish stereotypes as referred to in our response to 1 above].
Loewenstein then continues:
10. Many Jews are sent to Israel, often after school, for a year or six months or whatever. Not that many Jews are moving to Israel – some do. There’s definitely an encouragement to do so – in other words, to be the best kind of Jew you can be, so the thinking goes, some people argue the only way you can do that is to go to Israel and live there.
If you’re a young Jew, you’re likely to have to do military service, it’s compulsory in Israel for three years normally. And you potentially – although this is obviously far less  people – could be recruited by Mossad.
Now this sort of stuff I’m not saying is regularly discussed openly in synagogues in Sydney or Melbourne – it’s not.

[Nowhere does Loewenstein attempt to explain how programs in which young people travel to Israel and live there for a short time actually work. No-one is “sent” to Israel. Those who wish to visit are given assistance by Zionist organisations in Australia. Nor was Loewenstein asked whether he has any direct personal knowledge of these matters. Not only are his assertions unfounded, they feed into the propagation of anti-Jewish stereotypes as referred to in our response to 1 above. In point of fact these programs are primarily aimed at educating young Jews about their heritage and about contemporary Israel, and have never had anything to do with recruiting people for military or intelligence organisations].
I submit that the airing of the interview resulted in the following grave breaches of the ABC’s Code of Practice:
(a) Principle 2 – Accuracy. The ABC requires that reasonable efforts must be made to ensure accuracy in all fact-based content. The ABC accuracy standard applies to assertions of fact. The standard was violated – see items 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10 above and our responses to them. Loewenstein could not reasonably have been relied on as a “source with relevant expertise” – see our response to item 3 above.
(b) Principle 4 – Impartiality and diversity of perspectives. The ABC has a statutory duty to ensure that the gathering and presentation of news and information is impartial according to the recognised standards of objective journalism. The ABC is guided by these hallmarks of impartiality:
• a balance that follows the weight of evidence;
• fair treatment;
Impartiality does not require that every perspective receives equal time, nor that every facet of every argument is presented.
In this case the standard was violated by the failure to ask the interviewee to refer to any supporting evidence or otherwise to substantiate his claims, or to probe the basis of his knowledge (if any) or to ask him any probing questions at all. Indeed the interviewer herself engaged in ill-informed anti-Jewish speculation. No attempt was made to put forward credible counter-propositions and seek the interviewee’s response. The
interviewee was not probed specifically about his (lack of) credentials, knowledge or experience to speak about Jewish schools. Nor did the interviewer put to the interviewee information that was already in the public domain that tended to contradict his views. For example, the interviewee was not asked to explain how he reconciled his views with the publicly-reported fact that Ben Zygier attended a non-Jewish school,
Wesley College, for all but the last 3 or 4 years of his school life, and only then attended a Jewish school. Nor was it put to the interviewee that Ben Zygier immigrated to Israeland in that respect is a rare exception amongst graduates of Jewish schools.

Standard 4.5 was breached not merely because the interviewee’s perspective was favoured over alternative perspectives but because alternative perspectives were omitted altogether. For example, the alternative perspectives put forward by Philip Chester in his interview with Fran Kelly the day before, were not put to the interviewee.
(c) Principle 7 – Harm and offence – a public broadcaster should never gratuitously harm or offend and accordingly any content which is likely to harm or offend must have a clear editorial purpose.

Standard 7.1 requires that content that is likely to cause harm or offence must be justified by the editorial context. This standard was breached by the gratuitous, negative reflection on Ben Zygier’s family for choosing to maintain their silence to the media.
Standard 7.7 requires avoidance of the unjustified use of stereotypes or discriminatory content that could reasonably be interpreted as condoning or encouraging prejudice. This standard was breached several times – see our response to items 1, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9 and 10.


ABC Radio’s World Today on Australian Israel lobby blindness

I was interviewed this morning by ABC Radio’s World Today:

ELEANOR HALL: Now to the latest from Israel on prisoner X.

The Israeli parliament is planning to carry out what it calls an “intensive” inquiry into the death of the Australian-Israeli who was found dead in a secret prison near Tel Aviv in 2010.

The Israeli authorities have confirmed that 34-year-old Ben Zygier was prisoner X but it is still only speculation that he was also a spy for Mossad.

Lindy Kerin has our report.

LINDY KERIN: A week after the story broke on the ABC’s Foreign Correspondent program, the mystery surrounding the case of Ben Zygier continues.

The 34-year-old was found hanged in a specially designed, suicide proof cell. After his death, Israel imposed a total media ban on the case but was forced to ease the restrictions after the story gained international headlines.

Today a statement by the Israel parliament’s foreign affairs and defence committee said:

ISRAELI PARLIAMENT’S STATEMENT (voiceover): We’ve decided to conduct an intensive examination of all aspects of the incident involving the prisoner found dead in his prison cell in December 2010.

LINDY KERIN: News of the parliamentary inquiry follows calls by the prime minister for restraint from those seeking answers over the case of prisoner X

Benjamin Netanyahu has strongly back the Israeli security forces and has warned that shining too much light on intelligence activities could jeopardise national security.

BENJAMIN NETANYAHU (translation): I completely trust the security forces of the state of Israel. They are acting with endless devotion and commitment in order to enable us to live in this country. I also completely trust the law authorities in the state of Israel.

LINDY KERIN: As well as the Israeli parliament investigation, Australia will also prepare a report on the Ben Zygier case.

Journalist and Co. founder of Independent Australian Jewish Voices, Antony Loewenstein, is a well known critic of the Israeli government. He’s worried the inquiry will whitewash the case.

ANTONY LOEWENSTEIN: History shows unfortunately that Israel is an incredibly opaque society when it comes to these kind of investigations, the fact that the government itself in other words is investigating itself is highly problematic for self evident reason, and in fact it’s a society in Israel over many, many years, over many, many cases, not least in relation to Palestinians who are routinely held in jail and tortured and many other horrible crimes that the Israeli state often refuses to be transparent about that.

So why this would be any different – the only way this could be different is if there is serious pressure from outside forces and there’s not much indication that the Australian Government’s going to put much if any pressure on the Israeli government to do so because of our unhealthily close relationship with the Jewish state.

LINDY KERIN: The World Today has contacted many organisations for comment including the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, The New South Wales Jewish Board of Deputies, and the Australia Israel and Jewish Affairs Council, but nobody wanted to talk about the case.

The president of the Jewish Community Council of Victoria, Nina Bassat, responded to our request saying “The family of Ben Zygier is grieving and have clearly expressed their desire to do so in private. I intend to respect their feelings and do not propose to add to their pain by making any comment.”

LINDY KERIN: Antony Loewenstein says he’s not surprised the community is reluctant to talk.

ANTONY LOEWENSTEIN: The Jewish community and the establishment and the Zionist lobby likes to be in lock-step with the Israeli government. In other words the Israeli lobby in Australia is not an independent bodies, they’re simply a propaganda for the Jewish state.

So when a case like this happens, we don’t know all the facts, no-one knows all the facts, and rather than coming out and saying something which they fear will embarrass Israel, they’d rather say nothing at all.

But of course, the effect of that is that it shows to the wider community, who is not Jewish, obviously the vast majority of the Australian population, the Jewish establishment is incapable or unwilling of actually questioning its master so to speak, which is Tel Aviv and the government in Israel.

And I think that’s very unhealthy for the Jewish community and it’s a shame and quite revealing that very, very few, in fact, if any members, of the establishment in the Jewish community are willing to say anything of note apart from platitudes.

ELEANOR HALL: That’s Antony Loewenstein from the Independent Australian Jewish Voices group, speaking to Lindy Kerin.


Australian Jews play victim card again over prisonerx case

The following story appears in Israel’s leading online news service, Ynet:

Australian Jews express concern over Zygier affair; ‘this is our Pollard affair,’ says Jewish lawyer. Jewish activist Antony Loewenstein: This is a wake up call, Jews should reexamine stance on Israel, IDF service

MELBOURNE – The “Prisoner X” affair has raised concerns in the Jewish-Australian community and some fear anti-Semitism is rearing its head in their once peaceful country.

“Now anyone who supports Israel will be accused of dual loyalty, maybe even treason,” says Robert, a Jewish lawyer from Melbourne, “this is our very own Pollard affair.”

Robert, like all the Australian Jews interviewed in this report, asked Ynet not to reveal his last name, saying that “the situation is sensitive.”

The son of Polish Holocaust survivors, Robert said that the Jewish community in Australia is going through exactly what his parents came to Melbourne to avoid.

“My mother and father went through hell to find shelter in Melbourne, the farthest place in the world from Europe, so their children would not suffer anti-Semitism,” he said.

“But it seems you can’t run away from it. It comes up everywhere, whatever chance it gets.

“Today, some colleagues who never cared for news before, asked me if I’d seen today’s papers, and every comment they made held hidden criticism of Israel and of us, Australian Jews. This affair will haunt us for a long time.”

The Jewish community is worried that after the use Israel made of Australian passports in the assassination of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in 2010, the diplomatic relations between the two countries cannot be remedied.

“I’m afraid the Zygier affair will damage the long-term relations between Israel and Australia,” said a Melbourne resident who wished to remain anonymous.

“Australia has already banished an Israeli diplomat after the passports affair and didn’t vote in favor of Israel in the UN like it had in the past. Who knows if it will remain a loyal friend as it was until now?”

Alex, an Israeli citizen who immigrated to Melbourne, said the deterioration in relations is already felt.

When he tried renewing his Australian passport, previously a formality, he ran into unexpected difficulties.

“The authorities are suspicious, especially when it comes to Israelis,” he said.

“It didn’t interest them that I already have an Australian passport. I had to bring my original birth certificate, translated by a government approved translator.

“They didn’t accept my daughter’s translated birth certificate, and I couldn’t do anything about it.”

Far from mourning the lost relations between Israel and Australia, an Australian Jewish journalist said the affair should encourage the Jewish community to reexamine its uncritical stance on Israel.

Antony Loewenstein, founder of the Independent Australian Jewish Voices organization, said in an interview to Australian radio program “AM” that the big question is the Jewish community’s promotion of bias in favor of Israel.

Loewenstein cited the community’s pressure on young Jews to be involved with Israel, visit the country and enlist in the IDF, which according to him, should not be tolerated by Australia.

The Mossad’s actions are not considered controversial by the Jewish community, Loewenstein said, and if an Australian Jew is involved in actions of this sort, it will not be seen, as it should, as an ethical or legal problem.

Lowewenstein’s urgings may already be realized: Some of Melbourne’s Jews have already declared that they would avoid going to Israel, and deter their children from visiting, as well.

“There’s no way I’ll let my kids fly to Israel now,” clarifies Brenda. “I’ll definitely not encourage them to do so.”

Even the once widely-accepted service in the Israeli army is now being reconsidered.

Richard, Brenda’s neighbor, remembers the glorious return of one soldier. His name was Ben Zygier.

“He came back with the aura of a hero,” he said. “But now his family doesn’t dare show their faces around the community out of remorse and shame,” he said.


ABC AM Radio challenging incestuous relationship between Israel and Australia

I was interviewed by ABC AM Radio this morning (which has already generated some hate mail, so thank you Australian Jewry):

ELIZABETH JACKSON: The revelation this week by the ABC’s Foreign Correspondent program that Melbourne man Ben Zygier was Israel’s “prisoner X” have thrown light on some of the most secretive workings of the Jewish state.

There are many perplexing elements to this story; one of them is the deafening silence.

Silence and gag orders from Israel, silence from the Australian Jewish community, and perhaps most perplexing of all, silence from Ben Zygier’s family.

Co-founder of Independent Australian Jewish Voices, Antony Loewenstein, says he believes the Jewish community in Australia is embarrassed.

The journalist says the case involving Ben Zygier should be a wake-up call to the community in Melbourne and Sydney to re-examine the way young Jewish youths are educated at religious schools in Australia.

He says Australian Jews need to re-think the wisdom of a culture which encourages young men and women to join the Israeli military.

ANTONY LOEWENSTEIN: Well I think the Jewish community in Australia has taken the position of complete lockdown, where there has basically been virtually no comment about the details of the case.

There’s been virtually no comment about the relationship between the Jewish establishment in Australia and the Israeli government, and indeed Mossad, and indeed Israeli intelligence and the Israeli embassy.

There’ve been a few very vague comments, there’s been a few denials, there’s been a few statements suggesting that we don’t know all the information and therefore we can’t comment.

So overall, on two levels: one, clearly the family is grieving for a lost son – understandable, completely. But the broader question I think is the role the Jewish community in Sydney and Melbourne particularly – the biggest communities in the country – have towards Israel. And the facilitation often that they use of encouraging from a young age Jews to not just be involved with Israel, visit Israel, incredibly often fight with the IDF (Israeli Defence Force), which is something that the Australian Government, in my view should not be tolerating but does, and indeed for that matter sometimes joining Mossad.

Now this is obviously a murky world, but that happens not that uncommonly, and I think a lot of Australians might not be aware of that.

ELIZABETH JACKSON: So what are your observations about the way that Jewish institutions, and perhaps it even happens in the synagogues, I don’t know – but how do they facilitate this kind of mentality?

ANTONY LOEWENSTEIN: It starts at a relatively young age. Not all Jews, but quite a few. It’s something pretty common, whether you’re religious or my family was pretty liberal, quite progressive.

Israel is not the only focus of that, of course, but it’s certainly part of it – that you’re expected and grown up to support Israel in a way that in my view is unhealthy, which is uncritical. The occupation of Palestine doesn’t really exist.

And many Jews are sent to Israel, often after school, for a year or six months or whatever. Not that many Jews are moving to Israel – some do. There’s definitely an encouragement to do so – in other words, to be the best kind of Jew you can be, so the thinking goes, some people argue the only way you can do that is to go to Israel and live there.

If you’re a young Jew, you’re likely to have to do military service, it’s compulsory in Israel for three years normally. And you potentially – although this is obviously far less people – could be recruited by Mossad.

Now this sort of stuff I’m not saying is regularly discussed openly in synagogues in Sydney or Melbourne – it’s not. But the reality of what moving to Israel might involve, and I think the lack of conversation within the Jewish Zionist establishment about what actually being a so-called ‘good Jew’ means if you sign up for Mossad.

And the role of Mossad in the Middle East is pretty known, it’s quite legendary. But the reality of what Mossad does – in the last few years there have been numerous allegations which have been backed up by a great deal of evidence that, for example, Mossad has been behind the murder, the illegal murder, of Iranian scientists in Iran, nuclear scientists. There was a hit a few years ago of a Hamas operative in Dubai, which was captured on CCTV (Closed Circuit TV).

In the Jewish community itself, those acts are not seen as controversial. They are seen as something as what Israel has to do to survive, they’re justified, they’re defended. In other words, if there’s an Australian Jew who was involved in that, and if this gentleman was, it would not be seen as a problem ethically or legally, when in fact frankly it should be.

ELIZABETH JACKSON: Journalist and co-founder of Independent Australian Jewish Voices, Antony Loewenstein.


Voice of academic reason; why I boycott Israeli universities

Following the avalanche of media coverage in the last 10 days of Sydney University’s Dr Jake Lynch about his brave stand to oppose any institutional links with Israeli universities, he’s written two pieces in New Matilda that outline some of the issues.


Journalist Christian Kerr recently filed a series of critical articles in The Australian about me over my support for an academic boycott of Israel, and then boasted to friends about using the paper to further his own views on the subject.

Kerr posted on his personal Facebook page that he was “proud of breaking the story” about my refusal to host a visiting academic from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem because, in his opinion, the boycott amounted to “institutionalised racism masquerading as a statement of liberty” and was “contemptible”.

The next day, the Canberra-based correspondent reported that the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies (CPACS), which I head, “may be breaching the Race Discrimination Act”.

Equating support for the boycott with racism is a contested question at the heart of Kerr’s story. Peter Slezak, of Independent Australian Jewish Voices, described it as a “slur” calculated “to demonise those who speak out publicly in support of Palestinian human rights and international law”.

Professor Wendy Bacon of the Australian Centre for Independent Journalism told NM:

“When reporters have a personal stake or interest in a story, they should be very careful to give someone against whom they are making allegations the right to respond. Otherwise you can end up doing hatchet jobs, getting things wrong or creating stories to meet your own agenda”.

I was not quoted in Kerr’s article about the Race Discrimination Act.

In emailed replies to questions from NM, Kerr attributed his Facebook page entry to his excitement at “the feeling of breaking a story that generates an enormous amount of comment and interest”.

The Australian is known for its strong editorial lines, but its mission statement, issued on the publication of its first edition in 1964, promises “impartial information”. A profile of editor-in-chief Chris Mitchell, published last year in The Monthly, said “Mitchell and his staff take this credo seriously. They refer to it often and cite it in their defence when criticised”.

In a telephone interview with NM, Mitchell said he was not concerned about Kerr’s own political views tilting his reporting: “Any reporter is influenced by their own personal views … you try to obtain some sort of internal balance” by using a range of sources.

Asked how this could be reconciled with the Australian’s commitment to impartial news, Mitchell added: “After 40 years as a journalist and 21 years as a national newspaper editor, I wouldn’t get into the idea that any reporter has ever been completely unbiased”.

Peter Fray, former Managing Editor of the Sydney Morning Herald, told NM, “journos obviously do have personal views and they should keep them out of news reporting”, although Kerr, he believes, had “every right to get excited… I am not sure [he] was biased”.

Another of Kerr’s articles quoted Opposition Deputy Leader Julie Bishop, calling on Foreign Minister Bob Carr to “reveal” whether AusAID knew of CPACS’ support for the boycott before granting it $47,000 under the International Seminar Support Scheme in 2010. The ISSS pays conference expenses for delegates from a list of developing countries — not Israel, which is a high-income country so it is assumed Israelis can pay their own way. As an open, competitive scheme, ministers have no role in determining the outcome of individual applications.

Professor Stuart Rees, Chair of the Sydney Peace Foundation, told New Matilda: “Julie Bishop’s comments appear to make no sense. Either she was speaking with her foot in her mouth, or the reporter failed to spell out the nature of the grant [to get the quote]”.


The University of Oslo announced this week it is ending its contract with the security company G4S, which runs prisons in Israel. As a victory for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, it is richly symbolic. Oslo was the city where the “peace process” bore fruit, with theaccords of 1993 and 1995. However, nothing in them stopped the continued landgrabs or illegal settlement building that have marked the long years of Israel’s military occupation of Palestinian territory. G4S services the occupation, providing equipment and services to checkpoints, as well as Israel’s so-called separation barrier, declared illegal by the International Court of Justice in 2004.

It should cause us in Australia to raise our eyes from a debate that is often little more than half-baked parochialisms. A couple of years ago, I took on some of them directly, along with Stuart Rees of the Sydney Peace Foundation. We contributed letters to a website called Galus Australis, on which Philip Mendes of Monash University had issued a number of ill-informed criticisms of the foundation and the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies.

One of those who posted a response, “Akiva,” observed:

“It’s pretty apparent that Mendes is punching considerably above his own weight here. Inaccuracies such as Stuart Rees points out are unacceptable and evidence of the sort of ‘sheltered-workshop’, closed-community approach to this sort of discussion. What may reassure one’s own (already convinced and paranoid) mainstream community just may not be good enough on a wider scale.”

According to a large scale opinion survey, carried out in the UK and six other western European countries in 2010 by the polling company ICM, public understanding of the realities of the conflict has become much stronger over recent years. Fully 49 per cent of respondents could successfully identify Israel as an occupying power, compared with earlier surveys suggesting the proportion was much lower. Daud Abdullah of the Middle East Monitor, which commissioned the poll, linked this increased level of understanding, in turn, with “a growing rejection of Israeli policies,” after a long period in which Israel enjoyed a “high level of support … because it was perceived as a progressive democracy in a sea of Arab backwardness”.

This transition has probably travelled still further since the poll was conducted, as the world has witnessed another attack on Gaza, involving what Human Rights Watch called “serious violations of the laws of war,” along with the fatal shooting of activists on board an aid vessel bound for the territory. The materials on board were needed because Israel keeps Gaza under a state of siege, designed — according to US diplomatic cables disclosed by Wikileaks — to “keep its economy on the brink of collapse”.

That, by the way, makes it a collective punishment and therefore, according to the distinguished international jurist, Richard Falk, another war crime. The effects include the poisoning of Gaza’s water supply, declared undrinkable earlier this year because authorities there cannot import the parts they need to repair sewage systems damaged in the 2008-9 attack Operation Cast Lead.

These are among the reasons why, elsewhere in the world, there has been a steady growth in the BDS movement. Activists in civil society take matters into their own hands when their governments appear to condone such excesses on Israel’s part. The double standards are frequently outrageous. The European Union has accorded Israel full trading rights, the obsession over Iran’s alleged nuclear ambitions is seldom matched by calls for Tel Aviv to declare its own arsenal and join the Non-Proliferation Treaty, and so on.



Independent Australian Jewish Voices September newsletter

The following email has just been sent to our email list:

Hi all,
We would like to remind you of the upcoming speaking tour by the Israeli historian and social activist Professor Ilan Pappe, which IAJV has co-sponsored. He will be speaking in Sydney (at the Opera House’s Festival of Dangerous Ideas and elsewhere), Wollongong (where he will be a keynote at the Collaborative Struggle Conference), Adelaide (where he will be giving the Edward Said Memorial Lecture), Canberra (where he will address the National Press Club), and in Melbourne. We encourage you to attend these events if any are in your city.
In other news, Peter Slezak’s tour earlier this year of the Palestinian Occupied Territories is now the subject of a radio documentary on ABC’s Radio National (you can listen to it here). The documentary is called Breaking the Silence, and its details are as follows:
How are Palestinians living under the Occupation in the West Bank and Gaza?
Academic, writer and commentator Peter Slezak took a tour of the Palestinian Occupied Territories earlier this year and met with a range of Palestinians and Israelis including members of the Israeli NGO Breaking the Silence, who take tours around hotspots in the West Bank and Gaza.
His journey, as the son of holocaust survivors, was confronting and harrowing as he witnessed what this Occupation means in terms of the human rights abuses that occur routinely, and the annexation of Palestinian lands to large Israeli settlements and to the 700 km long Separation Wall.
Peter was also involved in the recent Beyond the Last Sky symposium, which explored the representation of Palestine in Australia. Beyond the Last Sky is a photographic exhibition at the Australian Centre for Photography in Sydney’s Paddington. It is the first exhibition in Australia solely dedicated to contemporary Palestinian photography and video. The details of the exhibition, which is free and open until the 18th of November, are here.
As we have mentioned in the past, the book Beyond Tribal Loyalties: Personal Stories of Jewish Peace Activists is now published. There is a recent two-part radio interview with the editor of the book (Avigail Abarbanel) and three of its contributors (Peter Slezak, Vivienne Porzsolt and Nicole Erlich). The interview is from 3CR Community Radio’s Palestine Remembered show and can be downloaded here.
Another book we’ve mentioned in the past, co-edited by Antony Loewenstein, is After Zionism. It discusses the one-state solution and features new writings from some of the key thinkers on the Israel/Palestine conflict, including John Mearsheimer, Sara Roy, Joseph Dana, Ghada Karmi and many others. Antony recently went on a book tour of Israel and Palestine, here are some of the details of the tour.
As always, the IAJV website is being constantly updated with the latest news and views about the Middle East, as are our twitter and facebook accounts.

And we would be grateful for support for our ongoing efforts, without which we would not have been able to continue our various activities including helping to sponsor Professor Pappe’s tour. Donations can be made in the following ways. You may use the “Donate” button on our website

Or use the following bank details for making an electronic transfer:

Unicom Credit Union
BSB: 802-396
Name: IAJV
Account Number: 26241843

Cheques can be written to “IAJV” and posted to:

PO Box 6128
UNSW Sydney, NSW 1466

Thank you in advance,

Independent Australian Jewish Voices
Peter Slezak
Antony Loewenstein
Eran Asoulin
James Levy

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Latest news from Independent Australian Jewish News

The following newsletter was just sent to the Independent Australian Jewish Voices email list:

Hi all,

There are a number of IAJV-sponsored and related events coming up that we would like you to know about. The first event begins in Sydney this weekend; it features Sahar Vardi and Micha Kurz, two Israeli activists and former IDF soldiers.

Sahar Vardi is a 21 year old peace activist and refusenik from Jerusalem who was imprisoned in 2008 for refusing her mandatory military service.  She was released in January 2009 and has been working since with the Israeli Committee against House Demolitions, the Sheikh Jarrah Solidarity movement and speaking at international forums promoting equal rights for Palestinians.

Micha Kurz is a co-founder of Breaking the Silence and Grassroots Jerusalem,  Micha has been an outspoken critic of Israeli policies in the West Bank and East Jerusalem since he finished his military service. Currently co-director of Grassroots Jerusalem, Micha maps social inequalities, justice issues and environmental problems in and around the Jerusalem area.

Here’s the link to their Australian dates.

The second event is the visit to Australia of Professor Ilan Pappe. As well as speaking at the Opera House’s Festival of Dangerous Ideas, he will speak in Sydney’s Leichhardt on Sunday September 16th and at UNSW on the 17th of September. The details for the latter talks will be finalised very soon.

Ilan Pappe is an Israeli historian and socialist activist. He is currently a professor with the College of Social Sciences and International Studies at the University of Exeter in the United Kingdom and director of the university’s European Centre for Palestine Studies. He was formerly a senior lecturer in political science at the University of Haifa and chair of the Emil Touma Institute for Palestinian and Israeli Studies in Haifa. He was formerly a leading member of Hadash, and a candidate on the party list in the 1996 and 1999 Knesset elections.

Apart from helping to organise and sponsor events such as the above, IAJV has continued its involvement with APAN through Peter Slezak’s position on the Executive Committee, including a delegation lobbying Federal MPs including Foreign Minister Bob Carr and several public lectures in Canberra, Melbourne, Adelaide and Wollongong. Bob Carr blogged about meeting APAN here.

Recently, Peter Slezak and Avigail Abarbanel were guests on Radio National’s Late Night Live speaking about Jewish peace activists. Peter also has a forthcoming Radio National feature on his trip to Palestine titled ‘Breaking the Silence’.

Antony Loewenstein is the co-editor of a new book, After Zionism, on the one-state solution. It features new writings from some of the key thinkers on the Israel/Palestine conflict, including John Mearsheimer, Sara Roy, Joseph Dana, Ghada Karmi and many others.

Lastly, two recent articles may be of interest to you. One, from the Guardian, discusses the fact that Israel is losing mainstream international political support, due to the expansion of the settlements and the continued restrictions on Gaza. The second, by Jonathan Cook, argues that “Israel has barely put a foot right with the international community since its attack on Gaza more than three years ago provoked global revulsion.”

As always, the IAJV website is being constantly updated with the latest news and views about the Middle East, as are our twitter and facebook accounts.

And we would be grateful for support for our ongoing efforts. Specifically this time we are asking for help with the above two events, especially the visit to Sydney by Ilan Pappe, which IAJV is sponsoring. Donations can be made in the following ways. You may use the “Donate” button on our website

Or use the following bank details for making an electronic transfer:

Unicom Credit Union
BSB: 802-396
Name: IAJV
Account Number: 26241843

Cheques can be written to “IAJV” and posted to:

PO Box 6128
UNSW Sydney, NSW 1466

Thank you in advance,

Independent Australian Jewish Voices
Peter Slezak
Antony Loewenstein
Eran Asoulin
James Levy

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