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.

Human rights for all

Philip Mendes is a self-described left-wing Australian Jew, academic and commentator (he also recently reviewed My Israel Question for the Sydney Morning Herald.) In this week’s New Matilda he manages to prove the utter ineffectiveness of much of the Australian Jewish Left in relation to Israel and Palestine:

Andrew West’s article in New Matilda (issue 101) about Antony Loewenstein, constructs a series of binary opposites regarding the Australian Jewish community and Israel.

On the one hand, Jewish supporters of Israel are described as a group of unthinking sheep who obtusely endorse each and every Israeli policy. Even worse, they actively seek to bully and silence Jews who have the temerity to break ranks. And this narrow tribal solidarity is motivated solely by a belief in Jews as ‘the chosen people.’

In contrast, Antony Loewenstein and other prominent Jewish opponents of Israel are portrayed as brave Jewish dissenters defying vicious harassment and name calling. Their idealistic concern is to break down the walls that separate those exclusivist Jews from the rest of society.

The best that can be said about the above description is that West (and by extension Loewenstein), might have the well intentioned aim of promoting more debate in the Australian Jewish community. Even then, I would say that the aggressive means they have used is most likely to polarise opinion, and hence provide a convenient wedge for Jewish hardliners to discredit all Left-wing opinions.

It would also appear that their definition of debate on this issue is not a range of views on an ordinary political spectrum, but rather the prominent presentation of radical anti-Zionist views that mirror their own. In short, they are paternalists who want to socially engineer the Jewish community to match their ideal.

I must admit that I’ve never been labelled paternalistic or a wannabe social engineer. Mendes and many of his fellow travellers have spent decades supposedly critiquing the Zionist state, the occupation and Israeli brutality against the Palestinians. They have achieved little discernable success. Their deafening public silence during many of the major events in the Middle East – and complete unwillingness to openly and clearly condemn Israeli war crimes in the occupied territories with no “ifs” or “buts” – shows that they still subscribe to the notion that a Jewish democracy can exist in Israel and Palestine, when the facts speak loudly proving the complete opposite.

Mendes wants to convince the wider Australian community that he has bravely campaigned for human rights in the Middle East and has suffered abuse for doing so. I don’t doubt that he has, but this is simply not enough. An individual who subscribes to a human rights agenda is equally critical when Jews, Arabs, Palestinians, Americans or Australians breach accepted norms. Mendes is unwilling to do this, always finding excuses, justifications or defences for Israeli actions in the territories. Behaviour, I suspect, he would find unacceptable if committed by another people – non-chosen ones.

I think he also resents – after years of toiling in academia – that I’ve been able to open up this debate in a matter of three years and cause widespread discussion and provocation within the Jewish community and wider society.

This week’s New Matilda also features a discussion about “questioning Israel.”

7 comments ↪
  • adrian

    I am astounded to discover that Philip Mendes is considered left-wing. I have not been aware of him before so I went on the google site to see what there was of him on the web. There is an interesting article of his at "http://www.onlineopinion.com.au/view.asp?article=2988" entitled "Are anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism one and the same thing".

    The gist of this, as far as I can see, is that he considers that Anti-Zionism is not anti-semitic if it accepts the existence of Israel and simply talks of issues about israel against a backdrop of Israel's continuing right to exist. However, Anti-Ziuonism is definitely anti-semitic if it opposes the existence of israel.

    If this sort of fatuous reasoning is the best he is capable of, I find it hard to take him seriously.

  • Ian

    Antony, its not only the "Australian Jewish Left" who can't deal with this. Yitzhak Laor has made much the same point about the deafening silence from Israeli moderates in the London Review of Books.

    I found the last paragraph detailing the one sided/centred concerns of the Israeli "peace camp" particularly compelling.

  • Leo Buddha

    Antony wrote:

    An individual who subscribes to a human rights agenda is equally critical when Jews, Arabs, Palestinians, Americans or Australians [or ANY others] breach accepted norms.

    Right on Antony. And that is one fool-proof test of antisemitism and other xxxisms. Sadly, some human rights activists DO seem to fail that test.

    It's dem double standards again.

  • M.Mayes

    Well I'll be damned, I would have said that statement was pretty balanced given the different states mentioned and particularly the "or ANY others". But I guess Leo that you can pick an anti-semite from a mile away right.

    As for double standards I think given Israel's double standards in human rights circumstances (ie. treating a people like crap, then wondering why they suicide bomb Israel, then bulldoze houses in "self-defense") would blow away any serious arguements against Antony and others having double standards.

  • Philip Mendes doesn't have the courage of his convictions as the following exchange of emails between him and me shows:

    Email from me to Philip Mendes on 4 June 2006:

    I didn't ever receive a response from you, so, to this day, I have no idea

    why you sent me an email saying "please read the attached file," with

    the subject saying Re: Your website

    What was supposed to be the purpose of the message?

    ————————————————————————–

    Email from me to Philip Mendes on 5 August 2005:

    There is no attached file to read.

    ——————————————————

    Email from Philip Mendes to me on 3 Aug 2005:

    Please read the attached file.

    I am still trying to work out what it was all about!!

    So much for our so-called "left-wing" intellectuals!

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