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.

Israel (can never) win this war of ideas

The following editorial appears in today’s Australian newspaper:

Advocates for the Jewish state must use reason, not emotion 

The latest battles in the 60-year struggle in the Middle East seem to be going well for Israel. But the Israelis are also fighting on another front, one where victory is essential to their state’s survival – the battlefield of ideas, where Israel’s victories are far fewer and increasingly pyrrhic. In the 30 years since the apex of international support for Israel in 1967, when the beleaguered state won a war of survival against an axis of states committed to its extermination, the Israelis have become increasing victims of two paradoxes. The more military victories they win in the national defence the more they are treated in the West as an aggressor that lives to fight. And the more forcefully Israelis present the case for their own survival the more they are seen as intellectual, as well as military, bullies. Earlier this year American academics John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt published a long essay arguing that the United States’ alliance with Israel was no longer in their nation’s interest. Support for Israel, they claimed, had so enraged the Islamic world that the security of the US, and the West in general, was at risk. And one of the main reasons Israel was protected was because of the power of its propagandists in domestic American politics. It was not an especially convincing argument, reducing Israel’s existence to a cynical realpolitic reckoning of American self-interest. But Mearsheimer and Walt’s suggestions were strengthened by the extraordinary ire their arguments incurred from American allies of Israel.

We saw the same situation writ small on Wednesday night when commentator Antony Loewenstein debated Ted Lapkin from the Australia/Israel and Jewish Affairs Council on ABC TV’s Lateline. Much of Mr Loewenstein’s argument was based on emotion rather than analysis. He argued as if Israel were a garrison state addicted to the use of force far in excess of what is required for its national defence. On the basis of what he said on Wednesday night many of Mr Loewenstein’s opinions are reflective of an ill-informed youthful Jewish guilt. But instead of respectfully rebutting his claims exclusively on the basis of facts Mr Lapkin went in hard. He suggested Mr Loewenstein wanted Israel to stop bombing the transport system in the south of Lebanon so “it would be easier for Hezbollah to be re-supplied with rockets” and called Mr Loewenstein part of “the pro-Hezbollah cheer squad”.

Rather than badgering opponents and scoring debating points, supporters of Israel would do far better to calmly deploy an arsenal of facts. Israel, despite being a tiny country surrounded by Arab states who would happily – and on more than one occasion have tried – to push it into the sea, has historically sought peace with its neighbours and only fought to defend itself. The present conflict with Hezbollah in Lebanon was not a fight of Israel’s choosing; in fact, Israel had pulled out from Lebanon in 2000 only to see the Iranian and Syrian-backed terrorist group regroup on its northern border. Certainly anyone with a heart will have compassion for the civilians killed in the current conflict with Hezbollah on both sides. Yet the outrage about the accidental wartime deaths of Lebanese children seems to far outweigh that felt for Israeli youth deliberately targeted by suicide bombers in calculated acts of murder. Likewise in the occupied territories, Israel has repeatedly sought to arrive at some sort of accomodation with the Palestinians. Yet it was Israel’s reputation that was sullied during the first Intifada of 1987 to 1993 when images of Arab youths hurling stones at tanks were beamed around the world. But when the collapse of the Soviet Union cut off aid from Moscow the Palestinian leadership was finally forced to the peace table. This led to the signing of the Oslo Accords and the famous handshake between Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat on the White House lawn. The tragedy is that this promise of peace was false. Since its founding in 1948 Israel has repeatedly faced down hostile enemies who still view its founding as a naqba, or catastrophe. This was shown most dramatically during 1967’s Six Day War. Having been subjected to weeks of threats and surrounded by the mobilised armies of Lebanon, Syria, Egypt and Jordan, Israel took the initiative and decimated its enemies’ military capabilities. And even though every honest accounting of the war acknowledges Israel was facing overwhelming odds, many in the West see it as an act of Jewish aggression. Israel only occupied land to the east of the cease fire line of 1949 because it was in the process of fighting a defensive war. But the obligation to seek peace is not an obligation to commit national suicide. Who could reasonably expect Israel, a country that is at places just nine miles wide, to withdraw from such defensive buffers in the face of states that have already proven their desire to do it harm? In any case, Arab countries have proved more than happy to delay solutions to the problem of the occupied territories to provide them with a continuing source of propaganda. Soon after Oslo the murder of Israel’s peace making prime minister Yitzhak Rabin by a Jewish fanatic in 1995 removed one of the strongest advocates for compromise with the Palestinians, as did repeated violations of the Oslo understanding by the Palestinians. By the mid- to late-1990s suicide bomb belts had replaced rocks as the Palestinian weapon of choice. And Yasser Arafat would prove to be nothing but a disaster. Through all of this the Israelis explicitly voted to give land back to the Palestinians in a quest to acheive peace – a very rare act in the history of the world. Events would come to a head with the start of the second Intifada in late 2000, triggered, some say incited, by a visit by Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to a mosque within the Temple Mount complex in Jerusalem. Arab Israelis rioted, and in the West Bank town of Ramallah two Israeli reservists were arrested and lynched in a local Palestinian police station. In the years that followed suicide bombings would take hundreds of lives in Israel. Yet in 2004 Mr Sharon, the most hawkish of Israeli hawks, finally saw a way to make peace by evacuating the Gaza Strip and withdrawing from parts of the West Bank and leaving the Palestinians to run both areas. But once again the hope of peace was betrayed when the Hamas terrorist militia kidnapped an Israeli soldier last month. The terrorists acted in an attempt to derail the possibility of a Palestinian vote on peace with Israel that could have gone against them. This fits a long pattern. For decades, first under a secular leadership and now under a more Islamicised one, every chance for peace has been scotched by a new atrocity committed by a Palestinian or Arab group determined to instead make war. And now Hezbollah has followed them into the fray, with attacks on Israel from the north. This is the long and complex story Israel’s enemies do not want told, instead preferring the narrative of displacement and victimisation that is so commonly heard in the West.

However many battles the Israelis win their sixty year struggle for survival will never end unless they achieve their objectives in the war of ideas. Yet on this fiercely contested front the fighting is not going Israel’s way. The fact is that many people like Mr Loewenstein, young and old alike, are simply unaware of the history of aggression Israel has faced and are naive about the nature of that country’s enemies. Israel’s foes have become adept at working the press and releasing footage of dead civilians. The assumption of many in the media that there is something suspicious about a democracy that fights, rather than appeases its enemies, makes it easy for the ignorant and the anti-Semitic to paint Israel as an aggressor. To counter this individuals like Mr Lapkin, and all who support Israel’s right to exist, need to make the case with calm reason and lay out the facts, from the 1967 war through the Camp David and Oslo accords and Yasser Arafat’s benighted and corrupt leadership. Also worth mentioning are Ehud Barak’s eagerness to sign a peace deal that would have given the Palestinians 95 per cent of their stated desires and which was still rejected by Mr Arafat. Such reasoning would go a long way to counter the opportunists who have especially emerged since September 11 we have seen more opportunists emerge, with arguments the Holocaust is now so distant that the West’s moral debt to Israel is cancelled and that the risk of terror attack makes the price of supporting the Jewish state too high. Paul Sheehan put it precisely in the Sydney Morning Herald when he wrote last week, “The moral legacy of the Holocaust has now passed into history” and concluded that “the combustible policies of the Israeli Government have become a danger to Australia and Australians everywhere”. Mr Sheehan misses the point. The Islamic terrorists he fears hate Hindus and Christians_ and also Muslims who adhere to different doctrines – as much as they do Jews. And by indiscriminately targeting transport in cities all over the world terrorists demonstrate they do not care who they kill. Like Mr Loewenstein, Mr Sheehan’s emotions shape his argument. But this does not mean they can be dismissed with debating tricks, or shouted down. Because every time this happens some Australians question whether the right is on Israel’s side. This is disastrous, because now more than ever Israel needs all the friends it can get.

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