For visiting Australian journalist Antony Loewenstein his critique of Israel’s policies has come with a high personal cost.
His interview with Kim Hill RNZ last Saturday can be found here.
His latest book The Palestine Laboratory shows the extent to which Israel’s military-industrial complex has become a global leader in spying technology and defence hardware.
The independent journalist is currently touring New Zealand and will speak about his book’s ground-breaking findings at public meetings around the country (see poster for details)
However, this research into how the Occupied Palestinian Territories have long been a testing ground for war technologies – and his support for the Palestinian cause – have made him a pariah in his own community.
Since My Israel Question, his first book published in 2006, German-Australian Lowenstein has been called a Nazi collaborator, a self-hating Jew, terror supporter, Arab lover, an anti-Semite. He understands why.
“The stakes over Israel and Palestine couldn’t be higher, are nothing less than a matter of life and death for both,” the author says.
Lowenstein’s latest book addresses how the occupation is buttressed by a largely unquestioning Jewish diaspora. It reveals also how Israel’s technology is now exported around the world.
In a Sydney Morning Herald interview in May this year, Loewenstein revealed that much criticism of him since 2006 revolved around the central question: “How could I, as a Jew, who had lost members of my family to the gas chambers, not automatically side with a Jewish nation that had been born from this monstrous crime.
“Since we had returned to Zion, the ‘kingdom of heaven’, Judaism had come to equal Zionism. To not believe in Israel is to somehow forfeit one’s name as a good Jew.”
“After the 1967 war, when hundreds of thousands of refugees were added to the 750 000 Palestinians displaced in 1948, Jews blamed Palestinians’ plight on belligerent Arab leaders. And on the Arab world’s refusal to accept a Jewish homeland in its midst.
“Jewish hearts became closed to the fact that nearly every aspect of daily life is dictated by Israel,” Loewenstein said.
The author says to debate is to be part of a rich and proud Jewish tradition of verbal contest. And yet when it comes to the Palestinian people, much of the Jewish community has had no desire to question Israeli actions.
However, Loewenstein instances his family’s contrary example. If Jew’s redemption and return as a people had happened as result of another people’s catastrophe, his parents shifted from an uncritical pro-Israeli position to both support Israeli’s right to exist and the rights of Palestinians.
A key theme in The Palestinian Laboratory is how the Jewish state has spent decades developing tools and technologies to oppress Palestinians, and how it now exports these tools to well over 100 countries. Including dictatorships such as Myanmar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates.
In 2016 when Lowenstein accompanied his partner to her human rights job with Oxfam in Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah, he experienced life under occupation at first hand. Since then, he believes, racism in Israel has since soared to new heights.
While also believing anti-Semitism is a real and growing threat, that author says that combatting it requires an understanding of how unqualified Jewish support for Israeli behaviour sometimes supports it.
Loewenstein cites a Gallup poll this year that found for the first time that US Democrats sympathise more now with Palestinians than Israeli Jews.
“Within the American Jewish community, there’s a civil war-of-words over attitudes towards Israel. Barely a day passes without a synagogue finally allowing anti-Zionist views to be heard or Jewish youth groups insisting to their elders that Palestinian voices be listened to and respected”, Loewenstein says.