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.

Palestinian prisoner faces indefinite detention in Israeli prison

My investigation in the Israel/Palestine news outlet +972 Magazine:

“I’ve never heard of any case like this in Israel before,” says Maher Hanna. “Even in the [nuclear whistle-blower] Mordechai Vanunu case, his lawyer had more access to their client than I do.”

Hanna is the attorney representing Palestinian prisoner Mohammed Halabi, a World Vision manager born in a Gaza refugee camp who three years ago was accused by Israel of funneling around $43 million from the Christian charity to Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

Since 2016, Israel has not provided any evidence to Halabi or World Vision to prove its case, and yet Halabi’s trial continues in an Israeli court, unresolved and with no end in sight. His lawyer tells me that he has no idea if Halabi will remain in a remote prison near Be’er Sheva without being convicted for many more years.

“This case is unprecedented in the Israeli legal system,” Hanna says. “Israel knows that Halabi is innocent. Some Israeli officials told me that.” Nonetheless, Hanna acknowledges that the panel of three judges could find his client guilty.

+972 Magazine has spent months investigating the Halabi case, examining the origins of the allegations, the reasons behind them, and speaking to key players in the story. The picture that emerges from many pages of internal World Vision documents, rarely heard details of the court case, and a correspondence with Halabi himself, is more than just that of an innocent Palestinian being tortured, mistreated and pressured to capitulate to Israeli demands; it also raises uncomfortable questions for many in the global and Israeli media who willingly accept Israeli government claims about Palestinians — even when there is no supporting evidence.

When the allegations against Halabi first surfaced in 2016, a senior official with the Shin Bet toldjournalists that Halabi had been recruited by Hamas in 2005 and instructed to join World Vision. After Halabi became head of World Vision in Gaza in 2010, the Israeli official claimed that he had eventually transferred around 60 percent of the organization’s annual budget in Gaza to Hamas. The allegedly stolen money had been spent on digging cross-border tunnels for Hamas militants to enter Israel, building a Hamas military base, and stealing humanitarian aid destined for hungry families in Gaza, according to the Israeli narrative.

It’s a common complaint by Israeli officials, rarely backed up with hard evidence, that Palestinian employees of international aid groups in Gaza exploit their positions to help Hamas. A number of Palestinians working in Gaza have been arrested and confessed to helping Hamas over the years, but lawyers for the accused men have always alleged that these confessions were elicited through torture at the hands of the Shin Bet. Israel still routinely tortures Palestinians, including children. Hanna says that prosecution witnesses in Halabi’s trial have acknowledged during cross examination being tortured by the Shin Bet and admitting falsehoods.

Israel is running a constant campaign against civil society groups that support the Palestinians in the West Bank, and especially in Gaza. Israel’s Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan said in 2016 that World Vision must have known about Halabi’s transgressions because, “I imagine that in the World Vision organization, which is very anti-Israeli, they turned a blind eye.” There was no evidence for this allegation.

Erdan further alleged without proof that World Vision had allowed Halabi to transfer $7 million of the organization’s funds annually to Hamas. Expert witnesses for the defense have testified that it would be impossible to have committed fraud on such a scale in Gaza because the World Vision budget was $22.5 million over the entire decade. In fact, according to his lawyer, Halabi was trying hard to keep World Vision’s activities away from Hamas, despite the militant group’s control over the strip.

Israel held Halabi incommunicado for 50 days after his arrest in 2016, after which Israeli authorities falsely claimed that he had confessed to the allegations against him. A gag order meant that nobody in the public even knew he had been arrested, and at the time, the head of World Vision in Australia, Tim Costello, blasted Israel for not allowing Halabi access to a lawyer. Halabi and Hanna both told me that he was tortured by Israel during this period of incarceration, which included solitary confinement and beatings.

The Australian government was quick to suspend its financial support to World Vision projects in Gaza in 2016. The Australian ambassador to Israel at the time, Dave Sharma, called the allegations “deeply disturbing.” But by 2017, an investigation by Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) concluded that there was no basis to support the claim that Halabi had diverted any Australian money to Hamas.

World Vision has supported Halabi during the entire legal process, and two internal investigations found no evidence to support the Israeli allegations against him.

Today, World Vision continues to serve thousands of Palestinians in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, but its Gaza programs remain suspended until the Halabi case is resolved. According to a U.S.-based spokeswoman Sharon Marshall, the Christian organization has “yet to see any substantive evidence to support the charges against Mohammed Halabi.”

“We continue to follow the court process but are not asserting any pressure regarding timing (or anything else about the trial),” she continued. “While governments including the U.S., Canada, Germany, Australia and others continue to support our work around the world, they are not directly involved in or supporting the Halabi case.”

The last public comment from World Vision about the trial, a statement from 2017, is scathing of Israeli actions negatively affecting its ability to operate in Gaza. “We remain deeply concerned with this situation, and are saddened by the impact on Gaza’s children and their families,” it said. “Aid from the international community remains a lifeline for 1.1 million people in Gaza, and one in four children in Gaza are in need of psychosocial support.”

Halabi’s father, Khalil Halabi, who is based in Gaza and has worked for UNRWA for 40 years, tells me that his son’s health has been affected by incarceration. After his 2016 arrest, Mohammed was tortured and beaten around the head by Israeli officials, he says, and as a result he suffered 40 percent hearing loss. “The Israeli authorities targeted my son to tighten the siege on Gaza Strip,” Khalil says.

Mohammed Halabi explains to me, through his lawyer who recently visited him in jail, that his physical health has seriously suffered during imprisonment due to the Israeli authorities restricting access to appropriate dental care.

***

The pace of Halabi’s trial has been absurdly slow. The trial began in August 2016 and there have been more than 100 court hearings. In early 2017, an Israeli judge told Halabi that he should accept a plea deal because there was “little chance” he wouldn’t be convicted. Judge Nasser Abu Taha of the Be’er Sheva District Court reminded the accused that conviction rates were extremely high in similar cases. “You’ve read the numbers and the statistics,” the judge said in March 2017. “You know how these issues are handled.” Halabi refused, instead preferring to prove his innocence. Hanna says that the prosecution expected Halabi would take a plea deal, as most Palestinians in similar situations do.

Asked about the length of the case, Eden Klein, the Foreign Press Spokesperson from the Israeli Ministry of Justice, told me that, “the trial, during which dozens of witnesses have testified, is still ongoing. Naturally such proceedings may take time.” The spokesperson refused to say whether Israel had ongoing conversations with Australia or World Vision about the trial.

Halabi’s Jerusalem-based lawyer, Hanna, tries to visit Halabi as often as possible but says Israel constantly puts obstacles in his way when needing to spend sufficient time with his imprisoned client. “I’ve often not been able visit or sit with him and I can’t give him any materials to read,” Hanna says. “I could only speak to him over the phone and I presume somebody was listening in on the call. I can now visit him but only spend three to four hours with him and that’s not enough. When I want to visit him, authorities often find excuses to stop me.”

Hanna says that Halabi is now doing relatively well psychologically but is frustrated with the slowness of the trial. Halabi has not been allowed to testify in English, never receives accurate translations of the court proceedings, and Israeli authorities have consistently refused to record the hearings to assist in translation.

As of April 2019, according to the Israeli Prison Service and military, 5,152 Palestinian security detainees and political prisoners were being held in Israeli prisons, many of whom are imprisoned without charge or trial under administrative detention.

Last December, Hanna suggested to the court that Halabi could be released to house arrest and wear an electronic ankle monitor. Israeli authorities said that Halabi was too dangerous and the court refused.

Halabi believes his arrest was part of a “fishing expedition in order to attempt to increase the siege on the residents of Gaza. They were not only attacking me but the entire system of humanitarian aid to Gaza, of which I was only a part.” He says that he’s being punished by the Israeli court for refusing to accept a plea deal, and that when released, he intends to “continue my humanitarian activities for the needy children and to help improve the quality of life of the residents of Gaza or anywhere else in the world.”

One of the main obstacles in defending Halabi is Israel’s refusal to allow his attorney to visit Gaza and meet witnesses who could bolster his case. The court has also refused to grant permits for many Palestinian witnesses from Gaza who want to testify in Halabi’s defense. The prosecution alleges that Halabi is sending messages from prison to witnesses in Gaza to dissuade them from coming to his defense because their attendance and evidence would destroy his story.

Hanna says that the opposite is true; he’s begging the Israeli authorities to bring these people from Gaza because they’re so keen to testify in Halabi’s case and explain his innocence. These witnesses are called “terrorists” by Israel, despite Hanna explaining to the court that they are civilians in Gaza. They are refused permission to enter Israel for Halabi’s trial, when in fact, several of these witnesses have already entered Israel for personal reasons and traveled out of the country.

After three years, the prosecution has barely brought any witnesses except Shin Bet operatives and a person whose identity Hanna says he cannot reveal.

Hanna dismisses the Israeli claims that state secrets are the reason the case is taking so long. The only reason the “evidence” against Halabi is kept secret, Hanna says, “is because if the information was revealed it would be a very big scandal. People will laugh that this is the information that Israel is using. Israel would be embarrassed.”

In contrast to the standard burden of proof in criminal law, where the state must prove that someone is guilty, in security cases like Halabi’s “we have to prove innocence beyond a reasonable doubt,” Hanna says. “It contradicts what we learned in law school.”

***

The media coverage around the Halabi case makes for a grim case study in journalistic independence. When he was arrested and charged in 2016, both Israeli and global media covered the case extensively, largely republishing unsubstantiated Israeli claims as fact.

Even rarer, was any mention of the various ways that Palestinians are pressured to admit to charges, from plea deals that spare years behind bars while awaiting trial (like Halabi’s case), to torture, to the use of secret evidence, to the threat of administrative detention.

“What bothers me the most,” Hanna says, “is when I Google Mohammed Halabi and it says that he’s admitted collaborating with Hamas. It’s unfair that my hands are tied to respond to this.”

After three years of the Halabi case, the public still knows virtually nothing about his situation. Even more absurdly, Halabi and his legal team are often in the dark when it comes to seeing hard evidence and following proper legal procedures. That few of the reporters who originally covered Halabi’s arrest now seem interested in his case says a great deal about the parlous state of independent journalism and thought when covering the Israeli political and legal systems.

Antony Loewenstein is a Jerusalem-based, Australian journalist who has written for The New York Times, The Guardian, The New York Review of Books, the BBC, The Washington Post, The Nation, the Huffington Post, Haaretz, and many others. He’s the author of Disaster Capitalism: Making a Killing Out of Catastrophe, writer/co-producer of the documentary, Disaster Capitalism, and co-director of an Al-Jazeera English film on opioids in Africa. His forthcoming book is Pills, Powder and Smoke: Inside the Bloody War on Drugs. His other books include My Israel Question and The Blogging Revolution, he’s the co-editor of the books Left Turn and After Zionism and contributor to For God’s Sake.

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TRT World interview on police raids against Australian media

This week in Australia there were major police raids on the home of a prominent journalist and the public broadcaster, the ABC. It’s a worrying sign and part of a global trend against a free press and sources who provide vital information.

I was interviewed by global broadcaster TRT World about the raids:

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US radio interview on my forthcoming drug war book

I was recently interviewed by US radio program, By Any Means Necessary, on my upcoming drug war book, Pills, Powder and Smoke: Inside the Bloody War on Drugs, and I gave a good overview of its political and journalistic reporting. My interview starts at 40:00:

Listen to “Regrettably the US Army asks ‘How Has Serving Impacted You?'” on Spreaker.

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My forthcoming book: Pills, Powder and Smoke: Inside the Bloody War on Drugs

After 4+ years of global investigation, my new book, Pills, Powder and Smoke: Inside the Bloody War on Drugs, will be released in September in Australia, November in the US and January in the UK. Translated editions will come later. It features my reporting from Honduras, Guinea-Bissau, the Philippines, the US, UK and Australia and investigates the reality of today’s drug war in the age of Trump. There’s also some hope, a rarity in my work, on how the situation could be better; the regulation and legalisation of all drugs.

It’s available for pre-order so please order one copy or ten (on the links above). Independent journalism will thank you and so will I.

More details soon about big endorsements, media and global events.

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Deep into the narco war; how Guinea-Bissau fits into the trade

Guinea-Bissau in West Africa is a key cocaine transit country between South America and Europe. I visited for my forthcoming book on the drug war, Pills, Powder and Smoke: Inside the Bloody War on Drugs.

The new podcast by Washington Post columnist and political scientist, Dr Brian Klass, is called Power Corrupts and one episode is about narcopolitics. It’s worth listening to the whole thing but my segment, talking about Guinea-Bissau, starts at 40:40.

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Stop just talking to ourselves part 854322

Back in 2017, I was commissioned by Germany’s Goethe Institute to write about the dangers of living in filter bubbles and finding ways to escape them. Berkeley University’s Greater Good department teaches and researches ways to build a more compassionate society. One of its fellows, journalist Zaid Jilani, wrote an essay on what happens when people with different political opinions learn to work together. I’m quoted here:

In 2017, Germany’s Goethe Institute commissioned the Jerusalem-based journalist Antony Loewenstein to discuss the problem of ideological silos. “Filter bubbles in the mainstream media are one of the most dangerous aspects of the modern age because they reinforce the least risky positions,” he says.

Loewenstein, who reports primarily about foreign affairs, says that some ways to prevent filter bubbles would be “widening the range of voices and publications that are heard in the mainstream” and greater “financial support to alternative news sources.”

Read the whole piece.

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How Extinction Rebellion gives hope on climate change action

Extinction Rebellion is a grassroots movement demanding radical (and necessary) action on climate change. The group, with activists around the world, is strongly challenging the political inertia around climate change and pushing back against individuals or companies (hello security firm, Pinkertons) aiming to make $ from the crisis (aka disaster capitalists).

I was interviewed about the movement on US radio station Loud and Clear this week.

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Pakistani TV interview about “new” Palestinian government

A few days ago I was interviewed by Pakistani TV network Indus News about the “new” Palestinian government (yes, it looks remarkably similar to the last, corrupt one). My segment starts at 39:00:

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TRT World interview on results of the Israeli election

As the results of the recent Israeli election came through last week, I was interviewed by global broadcaster TRT World about the (likely then and certain now) 5th term of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu:

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A day in the life of the Jordan Valley

During my recent reporting to the Jordan Valley in the occupied West Bank, I took many photos/videos to document the grim reality for Palestinian shepherds dealing with the Israeli army and aggressive settlers. The US magazine Mondoweiss has published my photo essay about those experiences.

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Christchurch massacre highlights dark ties between Australia and white supremacy

My article in US magazine The Nation:

It was an article with no subtlety, only bile. Australian columnist Andrew Bolt, one of the country’s most prominent right-wing voices and a key employee in Rupert Murdoch’s media empire, published a column last August with the headline “The Foreign Invasion.” In it, he argued that “immigration is becoming colonisation, turning this country from a home into a hotel.” Bolt’s column was syndicated in many newspapers throughout Australia; accompanying it was a cartoon with racist caricatures of Asians, Muslims, and other new arrivals.

The racism was blunt, and Bolt’s facts were wildly incorrect—yet it was just one of many examples of the mainstreaming of hate that has become routine in Australia. In the wake of the recent horrific massacre in Christchurch, New Zealand, where an Australian man killed at least 50 worshippers at two mosques and live-streamed his violence for the world to see, the increased tolerance for and encouragement of bigotry in the Australian media and in Parliament is finally receiving scrutiny. Examples of such bigotry abound: Prominent TV personalities call for an end to Muslim immigration; a political cartoonist at a Murdoch-owned paper draws tennis star Serena Williams with ape-like features; and the nation has become a regular haunt for some of the United States’ most notorious alt-right figures, who tour and spew bile at the indigenous population. But while white supremacy has been a major strain in Australia’s long history (as well as anti-Muslim hate in more recent years), US-style far-right violent extremism is still relatively rare.

A lack of racial diversity in the media and among political elites goes a long way toward explaining the blinding whiteness of supposedly acceptable commentary on public affairs in Australia. One 2017 study found that “racist reporting is a weekly phenomenon in Australia’s mainstream media,” with hatred commonly directed at immigrants, Muslims, refugees, indigenous Australians, and other minorities.

It’s a model that has been perfected by Murdoch’s Fox News, although other media companies take part too, including the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), the public broadcaster that is the country’s equivalent of the BBC. The racial divide is also reflected in public opinion; in a documentary on free speech that he’s currently putting together, the Pakistani-Australian comedian Sami Shah tweets, almost “every white person interviewed…said their biggest fears were Political Correctness or identity politics. Every poc [person of color] said it was rise of Nazis and hate speech leading to attacks.”

The poison is not just in the media; the far right has also infiltrated one of the country’s major political parties. Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has long believed in capitalizing on the electorate’s growing unease over Muslim immigration, and the Senate narrowly voted down a motion last year that said it was “OK to be white” (a meme popularized on 4chan and embraced by the white-nationalist movement). Australian Senator Fraser Anning, who once called for a “final solution” to immigration, said after the attack in Christchurch that “the real cause of bloodshed on New Zealand streets today is the immigration program which allowed Muslim fanatics to migrate to New Zealand in the first place.” According to reporter Paul Sakkal of The Age, Anning, who is close to forming a new political party, says, “We can win seats on social media.”

Yet despite the daily media drumbeat that blames immigrants for crime, the facts prove otherwise: Australian-born citizens are by far the highest number of offenders.

The strain of white supremacy that made the Christchurch attack possible has very deep roots. Australia is a settler-colonial state, and, like other cases of settler colonialism, from Israel-Palestine to the United States, its past is bloody. The vast bulk of the country’s indigenous population was murdered by the invading British after they arrived in the late 1700s. It’s an ugly reality that to this day is still denied by many and defended by others.

Indeed, just recently, a small but vocal political party in the Australian state of New South Wales proposed requiring DNA testing for Aboriginal people who want to claim welfare payments. Much of the media lapped it up, willfully ignoring the scientific challenges of such a test, let alone its racist underpinnings. Indigenous incarceration in some Australian states is higher per capita than it was in apartheid South Africa.

But while the prevalence of racism in Australia unquestionably influenced Brenton Tarrant, the Christchurch killer, his ideology was largely borrowed from white-nationalist websites, theorists, and politicians around the world. Tarrant name-checked Donald Trump as an inspiration, as well as Norwegian extremist Anders Breivik, who massacred 77 people in 2011. Tarrant’s manifesto was titled “The Great Replacement,” most likely a reference to a 2012 book of the same name by French extremist Renaud Camus, who claims that Europe’s white population is being replaced by African and Muslim immigrants.

Revulsion over the Christchurch massacre was widespread in Australia, but I remain unconvinced that the country’s major media companies have any real interest in taking responsibility for their platforming of hate. It will be much easier to shed faux tears and then quickly get back to demanding that Australian Muslims show loyalty to their country (after the Christchurch killings, Murdoch tabloids found a way to try to humanize the murderer). Conservative media and their political mates have fanned the flames of racism for years, so don’t expect them to become self-reflective now. Eradicating this poison will require a sustained grassroots effort.

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When Arab and Muslim states get intimate with Israel

Why are growing numbers of Arab and Muslim states getting cosy with Israel? I was interviewed about this for global broadcaster TRT World:

Israel’s new policies indicate that it’s trying to isolate the Palestinians by gaining favour with nations traditionally opposed to its policies. But Antony Loewenstein, a Jerusalem-based independent journalist, author and filmmaker, argues that “Arab leaders have for decades discarded the Palestinian cause for closer ties with Washington. The effect has been rhetorical backing for Palestinians but little tangible pressure on Israel or the US to effect change. Many Palestinians know that they’re supported by the Arab people but not their despotic leaders.”

Loewenstein adds that “the growing numbers of Arab states that are now embracing Israel is because they fear Iran, want Israeli surveillance and defence equipment and hope to get some financial crumbs from the Trump administration.”

Loewenstein explains that “Israel will continue to forge closer ties with Arab and Muslim dictatorships because they believe that this is the way to gain regional acceptance, but it’s a false dawn. In every opinion poll across the Arab and Muslim worlds, Israel is viewed as brutally occupying Palestinian territory, and Arab leaders would be foolish to ignore this sentiment.”

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