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.

Don’t think Goldstone’s “retraction” changes a damn thing about the report

There was an intentional Israeli policy of collective punishment against the Gazan people. Mondoweiss co-owner Adam Horowitz tells Democracy Now!:

…The Dahiya Doctrine is the war doctrine that Israel first used in the 2006 attack on Lebanon, which basically said that any area that they were receiving fire from, they would consider the entire area to be a military target. Dahiya is a neighborhood in Beirut that was absolutely flattened. Leading up to Operation Cast Lead in Gaza, the Israeli military and political command was very clear that they were going to recreate Dahiya in Gaza. And many people, including Judge Goldstone and the Goldstone Report, say that’s exactly what happened. And that’s one of the most damning charges of the Goldstone Report, which Goldstone does not address in this op-ed, that there was an intentional policy of collective punishment, of attacking the civilian infrastructure, the electricity, the food, the people of Gaza, to punish them for having elected Hamas. And that’s a charge that still stands.

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“The Israel Lobby”, five years on

One of its authors, Steve Walt, reflects on a tumultuous period and his work’s undoubted influence.

One of the great personal successes, in my view, has been the increasing number of Jews who recognise the devastating result of simply allowing the pro-settler, anti-Palestinian Zionists solely taking the floor. Judaism simply cannot be about backing never-ending colonisation of Arab land.

Here’s Walt:

When we wrote the book, we also hoped that our work would provoke some soul-searching among “pro-Israel” individuals and groups in the United States, and especially those found in the American Jewish community. Why? Because interest-group politics are central to American democracy, and the most obvious way to shift U.S. policy on this issue would be to alter the attitudes and behavior of the interest groups that care most about it and exert the greatest influence over U.S. behavior.

Indeed, we explicitly said in the book that what was needed was a “new Israel lobby,” one that would advocate policies that were actually in Israel’s long-term interest (and would be more aligned with U.S. interests too). The problem, we emphasized repeatedly, was not the existence of a powerful interest group focused on these issue; the problem was that it was dominated by individuals and organizations whose policy preferences were wrongheaded. A powerful “pro-Israel” interest group that favored smart policies would be wholly desirable.

It is therefore gratifying to observe the emergence of J Street, to see groups like Americans for Peace Now and Jewish Voice for Peace become more vocal, and to see writers like Peter Beinart and David Remnick take public stances that are substantially different from ones they might have expressed a few years ago.

Needless to say, these shifts weren’t our doing. Events in the region — especially the 2006 Lebanon war of 2006, the 2008-2009 Gaza war, the continued expansion of Israeli settlements, and the worrisome rightward drift in Israeli domestic politics — also inspired the effort to create a “pro-Israel” organization that would favor smarter policies and be more representative of American Jewish opinion than hard-line groups like AIPAC, the Israel Project, or the Zionist Organization of America, to say nothing of Christian Zionist organizations like John Hagee’s Christians United for Israel.

Our greatest disappointment, however, has been the lack of movement in U.S. Middle East policy.

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Libya isn’t a Western plaything

While parts of Libya begin to imagine a life without Gaddafi – wonderful quote in this typically incisive Anthony Shadid piece in the New York Times: “There is no call for the overthrow of the government; only Colonel Qaddafi is mentioned, as lackey, tyrant and the man with really bad hair” – Western powers are scrambling.

Robert Fisk on Washington asking its brutal buddies to lend a hand (anybody still wondering why nobody in the Arab world seriously believes America when it talks about democracy?):

Desperate to avoid US military involvement in Libya in the event of a prolonged struggle between the Gaddafi regime and its opponents, the Americans have asked Saudi Arabia if it can supply weapons to the rebels in Benghazi. The Saudi Kingdom, already facing a “day of rage” from its 10 per cent Shia Muslim community on Friday, with a ban on all demonstrations, has so far failed to respond to Washington’s highly classified request, although King Abdullah personally loathes the Libyan leader, who tried to assassinate him just over a year ago.

Washington’s request is in line with other US military co-operation with the Saudis. The royal family in Jeddah, which was deeply involved in the Contra scandal during the Reagan administration, gave immediate support to American efforts to arm guerrillas fighting the Soviet army in Afghanistan in 1980 and later – to America’s chagrin – also funded and armed the Taliban.

But the Saudis remain the only US Arab ally strategically placed and capable of furnishing weapons to the guerrillas of Libya. Their assistance would allow Washington to disclaim any military involvement in the supply chain – even though the arms would be American and paid for by the Saudis.

More Wikileaks cables seem to suggest that the US once feared (rightly or wrongly?) Islamists in the ranks of anti-Gaffafi rebels:

Leaked diplomatic cables obtained by the WikiLeaks website and passed to The Daily Telegraph disclose fears that eastern Libya is being overrun by extremists intent on overthrowing Colonel Gaddafi’s regime.

Former jihadi fighters who underwent “religious and ideological training” in Afghanistan, Lebanon and the West Bank in the 1980s have returned to eastern towns in Libya such as Benghazi and Derna to propagate their Islamist beliefs, the cables warn.

Derna has become a particular stronghold for the former fighters and conservative imams who have shut down “un-Islamic” social and cultural organisations such as sports leagues, theatres and youth clubs, the cables report.

Local sources blame deliberate government efforts to “keep the east poor” for growing extremism in towns such as Derna.

One cable sent to Washington in February 2008 reports a conversation with a local businessman who described the increasingly incendiary rhetoric at backstreet mosques in Derna, where coded talk of “martyrdom operations” had become commonplace.

The cable states: “By contrast with mosques in Tripoli and elsewhere in the country, where references to jihad are extremely rare, in Benghazi and Derna they are fairly frequent subjects.”

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A non-controversial proposal; Arabs have right to vote for whomever they want

Here’s to small blessings. A rather good editorial in today’s Sydney Morning Herald that calls for a re-thinking of years of imperial attitudes in the Arab world and an opening to Islamists who get elected. Bravo:

The patronising orientalism that the Arabs or even Muslims in general are somehow culturally conditioned to political slavery is being ripped up in front of our eyes. It is a time of great upheaval, partly the result of an open information age that perhaps ironically one of the Gulf’s autocrats, Qatar’s emir, embraced with his sponsorship of the pan-Arab satellite network Al Jazeera. It will be hard to put the genie back in the bottle.

The West is left looking flat-footed by developments. Britain has been shamelessly cosying up to Gaddafi. America has relied on regimes now facing popular uprisings. Even Australia has its substantial military presence at the Al Minhad Air Base in Dubai.

The situation demands a steady stand on principles by our governments, firmly supporting the right to free expression. We should be ready to accept, as the West hasn’t always done (as in Algeria, Gaza and Lebanon), that free elections sometimes may not bring the results we want.

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Just which part of the Jewish state is democratic for all?

You can smell the fear in this Haartez editorial. Israel is a democratic state that should be saved? Who thinks this? Palestinians living under occupation in the West Bank and Gaza?

While the negotiations over the final-status arrangement between Israel and the Palestinians have fallen into lethargy, Israel’s international status is steadfastly sinking. The process of recognizing a Palestinian state in the 1967 borders – without Israel’s prior recognition – which began in Latin America, has reached Russia this week.

President Dmitri Mevedev announced at the end of a meeting in Jericho with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas that Russia is comitted to the Soviet Union’s resolution of 22 years ago, which recognized, together with the non-aligned bloc of states, a Palestinian state within the ’67 borders.

On Wednesday Lebanon submitted a resolution proposal to the Security Council to denounce the West Bank settlements and declare their establishment a violation of international law.

It is difficult to overestimate the importance of Russia’s joining the states that chose to demonstrate their displeasure with the Netanyahu-Lieberman-Barak government’s conduct vis-a-vis the Palestinians by granting diplomatic recognition to the entity under Israeli occupation. Russia has considerable influence on issues of paramount importance, such as the international pressure on Iran and restraining Syria. Russia is a member of the Quartet, which supports the United States’ efforts to implement the principles set in the “road map” seven years ago.

It would be reasonable to assume that were it not for the American administration’s insistence on reawakening the negotiations on the two-state arrangement from their slumber, central European Union states would follow Moscow.

The Obama administration – which the right portrays as an enemy of Israel – is also blocking the UN initiative about the settlements. Netanyahu’s government relies on the United States to veto the proposal, while encouraging the settlements’ expansion, strengthening the outposts and deepening its penetration into Arab neighborhoods in East Jerusalem.

Even if the United State vetoes the proposal, with no progress towards an arrangement with the Palestinians – returning the settlements to the international agenda would present Israel as the subjugator sabotaging a peace agreement.

Instead of focusing his public relations skills on convicting “the world” with Israel’s “de-legitimization,” the prime minister had better make an effort to save Israel’s status as a democratic, Jewish and peace-seeking state.

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Wikileaks shows how keen Israel is to launch wars in the Middle East

Juan Cole brings news of yet more Wikileaks cables that show the threat Israel poses to world peace:

The Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten has summarized an Israeli military briefing by Israeli Chief of Staff Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi of a US congressional delegation a little over a year ago and concludes that

“The memo on the talks between Ashkenazi and [Congressman Ike] Skelton, as well as numerous other documents from the same period of time, to which Aftenposten has gained access, leave a clear message: The Israeli military is forging ahead at full speed with preparations for a new war in the Middle East.”

The paper says that US cables quote Ashkenazi telling the US congressmen, “I’m preparing the Israeli army for a major war, since it is easier to scale down to a smaller operation than to do the opposite.”

The general’s plans are driven by fear of growing stockpiles of rockets in Hamas-controlled Gaza and in Hizbullah-controlled Southern Lebanon, the likely theaters of the planned major new war. Ashkenazi does not seem capable of considering that, given a number of Israeli invasions and occupations of those regions, the rockets may be primarily defensive.

The memos reveal that none of the goals of Israel’s 2006 war on Lebanon and its 2008-9 war on little Gaza were achieved, and that both Hamas and Hizbullah have effectively re-armed. What makes Ashkenazi think things would be different this time? Israel hawks have doomed themselves to the particular hell of Sisyphus, forced to roll the same stone up the hill over and over again with no hope of ever balancing it on the summit.

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Wikileaks will soon expose Zionism’s dirty little secrets

Enough with the conspiracy theories (aka Israel colluding with Wikileaks). The group will soon unload on Israel and it won’t be pretty:

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said Wednesday that his website is due to release thousands of documents related to Israel, particularly dealing with the Mabhouh assassination in Dubai and the Second Lebanon War, Channel 10 reported Thursday.

In an interview with Al Jazeera, Assange said that only very few files related to Israel were published so far and that WikiLeaks intends on releasing many more documents over the next six months.

Assange, who was recently released from a British prison, said that he holds 3,700 more files related to Israel, and the main source of them is the U.S. embassy in Tel Aviv.

Assange said in the interview that WikiLeaks plans on releasing cables that were classified as top secret regarding Israel’s month-long war with Hezbollah militants in Lebanon in the summer of 2006.

Moreover, he also claimed he holds documents indicating Mossad involvement in the assassination of Hamas operative Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in Dubai in January.

Assange said that WikiLeaks had not had any direct or indirect relations with Israel, but said he was sure Israeli intelligence is monitoring WikiLeaks’ activities closely.

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The revealed bumbling steps of US policy

What emerges from the litany of Wikileaks cables is the ineptitude of American foreign policy, either jumping at shadows or trying to impose its bullying ways on the world, often unsuccessfully.

One:

Saudi Arabia proposed creating an Arab force backed by US and Nato air and sea power to intervene in Lebanon two years ago and destroy Iranian-backed Hezbollah, according to a US diplomatic cable released by WikiLeaks.

The plan would have sparked a proxy battle between the US and its allies against Iran, fought in one of the most volatile regions of the world.

The Saudi plan was never enacted but reflects the anxiety of Saudi Arabia – as well as the US – about growing Iranian influence in Lebanon and elsewhere in the Middle East.

The proposal was made by the veteran Saudi foreign minister, Prince Saud al-Faisal, to the US special adviser to Iraq, David Satterfield. The US responded by expressing scepticism about the military feasibility of the plan.

It would have marked a return of US forces to Lebanon almost three decades after they fled in the wake of the 1983 suicide attack on US marine barracks in Beirut that killed 299 American and French military personnel.

Faisal, in a US cable marked secret, emphasised the need for what he referred to as a “security response” to the military challenge to the Lebanon government from Hezbollah, the Shia militia backed by Iran and, to a lesser extent, Syria.

The cable says: “Specifically, Saud argued for an ‘Arab force’ to create and maintain order in and around Beirut.

“The US and Nato would need to provide transport and logistical support, as well as ‘naval and air cover’. Saud said that a Hezbollah victory in Beirut would mean the end of the Siniora government and the ‘Iranian takeover’ of Lebanon.”

Two:

Syrian officials were stunned by the mysterious assassination of a senior Hezbollah operative in Damascus two years ago, triggering a blame game between rival security services and frenzied speculation across the Middle East about who did it.

US reports from February 2008, revealed by WikiLeaks, described how the regime of President Bashar al-Assad was shocked when Imad Mughniyeh was murdered by a sophisticated bomb planted in his car. Mughniyeh, a founder member of the militant Lebanese Shia movement, was wanted by the US, Israel, France and other governments. Hezbollah is backed by Iran and Syria.

“Syrian military intelligence and general intelligence directorate officials are currently engaged in an internecine struggle to blame each other for the breach of security that resulted in Mughniyeh’s death,” the US embassy reported.

Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to Lebanon, the well-connected Abdel Aziz Khoja, told US diplomats in Beirut that Hezbollah believed the Syrians were responsible for the Damascus killing. No Syrian official was present at Mughniyeh’s funeral in Beirut’s southern suburbs the following day. Iran was represented by its foreign minister, who, the Saudi envoy said, had come to calm down Hezbollah and keep it from taking action against Syria.

Another rumour, Khoja said, was that Syria and Israel had made a deal to allow Mughniyeh to be killed, an Israeli objective. No one has ever claimed responsibility for the assassination, though Israel has been widely blamed for it.

US diplomats reported that the killing led to tensions between Syria and Iran, perhaps because Tehran shared Khoja’s suspicion of Syrian complicity in the affair.

Three:

Washington has worked discreetly to block the supply of Iranian and Syrian weapons to Islamist groups in the Middle East amid evidence showed Scud-D missiles had been supplied to Hezbollah, according to U.S. diplomatic cables obtained by WikiLeaks.

The United States, in many cases using secret intelligence provided by Israel, had pressured Arab governments not to cooperate with arms smuggling to Palestinian group Hamas or Lebanon’s Hezbollah, said a report in the Guardian.

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Why not bomb Syria?

This is mainstream media reporting. Anonymous voices advocating war and chaos in the Middle East, courtesy of Israel and the US:

Syria’s fresh interference in Lebanon and its increasingly sophisticated weapons shipments to Hezbollah have alarmed American officials and prompted Israel’s military to consider a strike against a Syrian weapons depot that supplies the Lebanese militia group, U.S. and Israeli officials say.

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Washington’s global footprint is as subtle as the BFG

We often hear about the military industrial complex, but what does it mean in practice?

Exhibit number one:

The construction projects are sprouting like mushrooms: walled complexes, high-strength weapons vaults, and underground bunkers with command and control capacities — and they’re being planned and funded by a military force intent on embedding itself ever more deeply in the Middle East.

If Iran were building these facilities, it would be front-page news and American hawks would be talking war, but that country’s Revolutionary Guards aren’t behind this building boom, nor are the Syrians, Lebanon’s Hezbollah, or some set of al-Qaeda affiliates.  It’s the U.S. military that’s digging in, hardening, improving, and expanding its garrisons in and around the Persian Gulf at the very moment when it is officially in a draw-down phase in Iraq.

On August 31st, President Obama took to the airwaves to announce “the end of our combat mission in Iraq.”  This may, however, prove yet another “mission accomplished” moment.  After all, from the lack of a real Iraqi air force (other than the U.S. Air Force) to the fact that there are more American troops in that country today than were projected to be there in September 2003, many signs point in another direction.

In fact, within days of the president’s announcement it was reported that the U.S. military was pouring money into improving bases in Iraq and that advance elements of a combat-hardened armored cavalry regiment were being sent there in what was politely dubbed an “advise and assist” (rather than combat) role.  On September 13th, the New York Times described the type of operations that U.S. forces were actually involved in:

“During two days of combat in Diyala Province, American troops were armed with mortars, machine guns, and sniper rifles. Apache and Kiowa helicopters attacked insurgents with cannon and machine-gun fire, and F-16’s dropped 500-pound bombs.”

Even if the U.S. was forced to withdraw all its troops from Iraq, however, its military “footprint” in the Middle East would still be substantial enough to rankle opponents of an armed American presence in the region and be a drain on U.S. taxpayers who continue to fund America’s “empire of bases.”  As has been true in recent years, the latest U.S. military documents indicate that base expansion and upgrades are the order of the day for America’s little-mentioned garrisons in the nations around Iraq.

One thing is, by now, clear: whatever transpires in Iraq, the U.S. military presence in the Persian Gulf and surrounding environs will be formidable well into the future.

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Why there cannot be a Zionist loyalty oath

The following statement was released on 31 October by the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network:

On October 10, 2010, the Israeli government proposed a bill obligating non-Jewish naturalized citizens to swear loyalty to a “Jewish and democratic state.” The International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network (IJAN) deplores this attempt to demand recognition of Israel as a Jewish state – a state whose existence is premised on the removal of the indigenous people of Palestine.

In response to this bill, members of the Zionist “Left” in Israel issued a “declaration of independence from fascism.” Announced at a rally in Tel Aviv, the Middle East’s most ethnically cleansed city (indigenous population: four percent), the declaration asserts that the proposed law “violates [Israel’s] basic commitment to the principles of equality, civil liberty and sincere aspiration for peace — principles upon which the State of Israel was founded.”

The Zionist “Left” is distancing itself from this policy, but the proposed oath is entirely consistent with Israel’s racist foundations and continued ethnic cleansing – all of which the Zionist “Left” has played a central role in perpetrating and whitewashing.

In the 1930s, as the Zionist state was forming, the Histadrut and other Labor Zionist institutions campaigned to dispossess Arab peasants and workers, while helping crush the resulting 1936 Arab rebellion.

In 1947-1948, under the leadership of David Ben Gurion, Labor Zionism – the dominant force in the Zionist “Left” – also directed the Nakba (catastrophe), which established the “Jewish state” by terrorizing and expelling at least eighty percent of the indigenous Palestinian population.

In the following decades, “Left” Zionism imposed domestic apartheid, made apartheid South Africa Israel’s closest ally, and led or supported every Israeli war of domination — most recently in Lebanon and Gaza. Under Labor governments, Israeli settlements in Jerusalem and the West Bank exploded in number.*

Today, “Left” Zionists, no less than their right-wing counterparts, view Palestinians as a “demographic threat” to Jewish supremacy. Like the “Right,” they insist that Palestinians ratify their own unequal status by recognizing 1948 Palestine (“Israel”) as a “Jewish state.” Ironically, this Zionist racism, violence and apartheid serve to deliver a segregation of Jews that parallels traditional European anti-Semitism.

The problem, then, is not alleged betrayal of Israeli “principles” at the hands of right-wing “extremists,” but Zionism itself — both “Left” and “Right.” For Israeli Jews who reject Israel’s racist foundations, we stand with you.

We ask others not only to join us in opposing the loyalty oath, but to reject the Zionist principles upon which it rests. Concretely, that means supporting Palestinian demands for an end to military occupation, implementation of the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their land, and equal rights for all throughout Palestine.

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Australian unions recognise the power and necessity of BDS

Now this is news, a growing realisation that the status-quo in Palestine is simply oppressing Palestinians. Civil society is rising:

Australian unions are signing up to an international campaign to boycott Israeli goods.

But a fight is brewing over a proposal for the Australian Council of Trade Unions to endorse the movement.

The broad-based divestment and boycott campaign is targeting companies that profit from the Israeli settlements.

The Electrical Trades Union, the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union, the Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union, the Queensland branch of the Rail Tram and Bus Union and the Finance Sector Union have all passed a resolution supporting the international campaign of “boycott, divestment and sanctions” (BDS) against Israel.

Communications Electrical Plumbing Union national secretary Peter Tighe told The Australian the electrical branch of his union had adopted the resolution and he would now take it to the broader CEPU, then the ACTU.

“We had a 30 or 40 minute presentation from a delegate who had visited Palestine,” Mr Tighe said.

“The council decided we would support the BDS. We are not anti-Jewish; we just think the human misery over there is outrageous. We think the Israeli government is captive to some extreme views on the Right.

“We think it’s got to a stage where we are going to have to have bans across the board.

“Working people can’t sit on their hands forever.”

Mr Tighe, who sits on the ACTU executive, will take a resolution to the peak union body.

“We will use our influence within the ALP to push this position,” he said.

“Now you have a few unions with the same view and we can influence the political process more, we are not just one voice.”

Australian Workers Union national secretary Paul Howes said he would fight any plan to see the ACTU endorse the sanctions.

“We don’t believe that it’s in the interests of Palestinian or Israeli workers to seek to divide them in the peace process,” Mr Howes said.

“Unions are free to do what they wish but certainly I think it’s a bit naive. Some unions are not fully aware of what they are signing on to.”

Of course, the Australian editorial opposes any kind of BDS, simply hoping and praying that someone, somewhere, will convince Israel to give up its occupation. Without pressure and pain, this will never happen:

If there is logic behind the international campaign to boycott Israel and the decision of some Australian trade unions to back it, we are struggling to see it.

Assuming sanctions work (and that is a big assumption), there are many regimes with a far greater claim to global opprobrium than that of Israel, a nation the Left once supported. The frustrating truth is that nothing has changed on the ground to justify the international Left’s perfidy. Everyone of goodwill agrees where this conflict will end, with two states separated by borders that approximate the 1967 boundaries and Jerusalem as a shared capital. So let’s make it happen.

The starting point must be talks without precondition. The Palestinians must dump their disingenuous tactic of linking construction of West Bank settlements with a return to the negotiating table. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, meanwhile, must use the advantages of incumbency to resist pressure from the Right and orthodox religious parties and pursue a path to peace that allows room for compromise. While political chaos would be in nobody’s interests — not that of the Israelis nor the Palestinians — Mr Netanyahu should not hoard a cent of his political capital in the pursuit of peace.

Settlements, however, are not the main issue. Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian Authority leader, has negotiated with the Israelis in the past without demanding the sort of freeze on construction he now insists is a precondition to resuming talks. Any further delays would betray a basic lack of enthusiasm among Mr Abbas and his colleagues for negotiations and an attempt by them to drive a wedge between Israel and the Obama administration, which erred by allowing the settlements issue to assume the centrality that it has.

Mr Netanyahu, of course, has not helped by backing legislation in the Knesset that requires new non-Jewish citizens to take a loyalty oath to Israel as a Jewish and democratic state. The best hope is that this is part of a broader strategy aimed at shoring up essential political support that will assist him in eventually striking a peace deal. The presence of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on a state visit to south Beirut is a salutary reminder of just how urgent it is for both men to get to grips with reality.

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