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 let any lobby shut down debate

My following article appears in today’s Australian newspaper:

Two distinguished US international relations specialists are being demonised for criticising Washington’s close relationship with Israel

A recent academic study on the “Israel lobby” by political scientists John Mearsheimer of the University of Chicago and Stephen Walt of Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government has caused a political storm in the US.

Their article was accepted, but then rejected, by The Atlantic Monthly; it was eventually published in the London Review of Books.

The study says that the US has been “willing to set aside its own security and that of many of its allies in order to advance the interests of another state” and that the Israel lobby has managed to convince Americans that “US interests and those of Israel are essentially identical”, when they are not.

The authors argue that the Israel lobby has every right to pursue its interests in the political arena and through the media. However, they also note that one of the “most powerful weapons” against honest debate is the perennial accusation of anti-Semitism.

This carefully reasoned study concludes that by blindly supporting Israel’s agenda – a brutal occupation and desire for war against Iraq and Iran – the US has aided an aggressor state in the heart of the Middle East. US support is underpinned by a loose affiliation of journalists, politicians and lobbyists who operate on the assumption that the only language understood by Arabs and Palestinians is force.

The extraordinary reaction to the Mearsheimer-Walt article suggests that the Israel-US relationship is out of bounds. Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz has labelled the authors bigots and compared their study with the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Leading neo-conservative intellectual Eliot Cohen has called the academics “anti-Semitic”. The Anti-Defamation League sees “a classical conspiratorial anti-Semitic analysis invoking the canards of Jewish power and Jewish control”.

The American Enterprise Institute’s resident scholar Michael Ledeen argues that the study gave comfort to “Ayman al-Zawahiri and his buddy, the Ayatollah Khamenei”, because it tells the “Big Lie” and is “anti-Semitic in the grand tradition”. He further calls for donors to cease granting funds to the two professors’ university departments. Harvard University has removed its logo from the web version of the study. Overwhelmingly hostile commentary has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, The New Republic, The New York Sun, Los Angeles Times and The Boston Globe.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, more nuanced responses have appeared in Europe and Israel. The Financial Times in Britain has described the debate on US-Israel relations as overdue and defended the academic thesis. LRB editor Mary-Kay Wilmers told Britain’s The Observer that, being Jewish, she is very alert to anti-Semitism, “and I do not think criticising US foreign policy, or Israel’s way of going about influencing it, is anti-Semitic”.

Daniel Levy, a former prime ministerial adviser in Israel, writes in Haaretz that “defending the occupation has done to the American pro-Israel community what living as an occupier has done to Israel – muddied both its moral compass and its rational self-interest”.

Public debate on the subject is routinely curtailed by intimidation and slander initiated by the Zionist lobby. In a healthy democracy, Israel’s policies should not be immune to criticism. However, this seems to be the status quo: Israel remains a blind spot of the US administration.

Take the example of US Jewish historian Norman Finkelstein. His recent book, Beyond Chutzpah, alleges that Dershowitz lifted some passages in his work The Case for Israel from another book, From Time Immemorial, and challenges the Harvard professor’s claims about Israel’s outstanding human rights record. Dershowitz, well known in the US as a fighter for human rights, attempted to prevent publication of the book, even urging California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to intervene and demand that Finkelstein’s publisher, the University of California Press, abandon the project. This supposed free-speech advocate appears to believe some subjects are beyond debate.

The situation in Britain is more enlightened. In mid-2004, 347 British Jews wrote to the Board of Deputies of British Jews and said the time had come to “distinguish the interests of the community in Britain from the policies adopted by Israeli governments. These issues must be brought into the open. Silence discredits us all.” Mearsheimer and Walt are merely calling for an appraisal of a key US relationship that has remained a no-go zone for too long.

An Israel lobby also exists in Australia, though it is far less influential than its US counterpart. The Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council claims to represent the interests of the Jewish community in Australia and maintains strong ties with the Labor and Liberal parties. Its executive director Colin Rubenstein explained in 2003 that there is an “affinity between Australia and Israel, almost an overlapping destiny”. As a strong advocate of the Iraq war, Guantanamo Bay and military strikes against Iran, AIJAC’s agenda has dovetailed seamlessly with the Howard Government’s views, especially since September 11, 2001.

AIJAC funds a travel program to send journalists and politicians to Israel in an attempt to rectify the influence of “the biased media or the agendas run by hard-left organisations”, according to program representative Yosi Tal. Deviating from the accepted view results in pressure on editors and political leaders to knock dissenters into line.

For example, during 2002 and 2003 the ALP experienced the consequences of dissenting from the AIJAC view. A handful of backbenchers questioned Israeli policy in the occupied territories. A raft of Jewish leaders slammed the party as anti-Semitic. Liberal MP Christopher Pyne, as chairman of the Australia-Israel Parliamentary Friendship Group, told ABC Radio that a motion put forward by MP Julia Irwin – damning the occupation and calling for a secure Israel and Palestine – was “pandering to the pro-Palestinian position”.

It would appear that even the mild proposition that the Palestinian people should have the right of self-determination is taboo. To those less blinkered, it would seem obvious that peace will never be achieved in the Middle East without mutual understanding. Unilateralism is no substitute for this necessary process. This truism has been accepted as a given, as the recent elections in Israel make clear. But the realpolitik that has made disengagement possible in Israel has no place in the feverish anxiety this issue raises in the diaspora.

For those who seek a just and peaceful solution to problems in the Middle East, it is disheartening to witness the attack on a reasoned paper analysing the US-Israel relationship. Beyond the vilification of the two distinguished US academics lies the more disturbing question of why a healthy democracy fears a frank analysis. It would be an indication of an ailing democracy if interest groups prevailed in the public sphere.

Antony Loewenstein is author of My Israel Question, to be released in August by Melbourne University Publishing.

11 comments ↪
  • Stev

    Congrats mate! A fantastic read, and good to see these kinds of questions getting some mainstream attention. Did I miss an earlier update, or is this the first time we've seen a title for the book? Either way, I like it.

  • edward squire

    A.L.:

    Good article. Well written. More than enough to get people arguing on a number of fronts. Debate is what is important.

    Aside:

    Colin Rubenstein explained in 2003 that there is an “affinity between Australia and Israel, almost an overlapping destiny”.

    Overlapping WHAT?!

  • Antony Loewenstein

    Thanks. This is the first time we've released the title of the book in public.
    As for Rubenstein's "overlapping destiny", perhaps he means two colonial cultures unable to deal with their pasts?

  • Addamo

    Excellent article Ant.

    It's amzing how some of Mearsheimer and Walt's critics have gone so far as to even deny te exustence of an Israeli lobby. I mean, for heaven's sake, there are all kinds of lobby's in Washington. Does anyone with their head screwed on relaly believe there is no such thing as an Israeli lobby?

    Colin Rubenstein's suggestion that there is an “affinity between Australia and Israel, almost an overlapping destiny”. is very much in the vain of the way APIPAC has tried to frame the US/Israeli relationship – as being one and the same. While a healthy relationship between Australia and Israel should be valued, it is naive to suggest that what the interests of any two countries are not sometimes in conflict.

  • Glenn Condell

    Well said Ant, good on you.

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  • nicely done, i'll put some of that up at Corrente. this is a discussion that americans in particular (as those most likely to invade iran) need to be having right about now.

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