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.

Turning the other cheek

I recently attended the Brisbane’s Writer’s Festival and one of my papers discussed Israel and Zionism (Brisbane Writer’s Festival discussion paper – Loewenstein). I debated Melbourne academic and “left-winger” Philip Mendes (more on Mendes here), a man seemingly torn between critiquing Israeli occupation yet incapable of truly condemning it. His heart and head are hopelessly conflicted.

Unsurprisingly, the Australian Jewish News (AJN) reported proceedings:

Cultural differences in the definition of peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians, not Israel’s actions in isolation, pose an obstacle to resolving the enduring conflict, a Melbourne-based Jewish academic said in Brisbane.

“Israel has always viewed peace in highly western terms as the cessation of war and violence following negotiations and mutual compromise. In contrast, Palestinians seem to define peace not as the absence of war per se, but rather as the restoration of their national, territorial, and political rights,” Monash University social work lecturer Dr Philip Mendes told an audience of around 150 people at the Brisbane Writers’ Festival on Saturday.

Dr Mendes was responding to strident Israel critic and rookie author Antony Loewenstein in a debate on “The Israel question”, a take on the title of Loewenstein’s controversial debut book My Israel Question.

Loewenstein, 31, argued that the claim by its supporters that Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East is a “lie”.

“Israel’s behaviour in the West Bank and Gaza are the tactics of a rogue, terror state,” he argued. “Enough with the Holocaust, alleged Palestinian ‘terror’ and victimhood. Take some responsibility for the parlous State of Israel in the international community. For all of us who want a safer Middle East, today’s Israel is currently the problem, not the cure.”

Defending his criticism of Israel, Loewenstein said he was a “proud Jew who believes in Israel, but not at the expense of the Palestinians. I believe in an independent Palestinian state.”

Dr Mendes, who is the author of Jews and Australian Politics, said another prerequisite to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the cessation of the Arab world’s 58-year-old military, political, trade and intellectual siege of Israel.

“If this change in attitude occurred among both fundamentalist and secular Arabs, I believe we would then see a similar change in attitude within Israel leading to a far greater Israeli willingness to seek non-military solutions to political problems,” Dr Mendes said.

Among the audience members was Australasian Union of Jewish Students Queensland president Ariel Radzinski, who said Loewenstein needed a “serious reality check”.

“He needs to witness what it is like to live in Israel and be under constant threat of a suicide bomber … Then let him come back to Australia and try to make comments like Israel has caused untold trauma with the Palestinian people.”

The debate was chaired by La Trobe University’s Professor Dennis Altman.

Last month, Loewenstein made several appearances at the Melbourne Writers’ Festival, including a session on whether or not the West should negotiate with terrorists.

The AJN clearly decided some time ago to cover my book in a cynical and dishonest way. Calling me a “rookie author” is just the beginning (after all, how many AJN reporters have ever written anything longer than a 500 word article?) If I need a “reality check” for daring to highlight Israel’s occupation in the West Bank and Gaza, I’m more than comfortable leaving the young Zionist to his delusions. The newspaper’s journalism is best described as rehashing talking points from the Israeli foreign ministry. Independent thought must cost a premium.

The AJN’s coverage reminds me of a recent conversation with a senior Australian columnist. He recently spoke to a leading group of Australian Jews and told them that their overly aggressive tactics towards media players was leading to antagonism of Jews and Israel, opposite of the desired effect. I suspect this group of Zionists had no concept of approaching individuals any other way.

Keeping one’s head in the sand is far preferable, it seems, to actually wondering why Israel is increasingly hated around the world.

My Israel Question is now moving into a 3rd reprint and remains on the best-seller list (the latest review is here.) I’m being invited around the country to speak to various groups on the issues of Diaspora Jewry, Israel, Zionism and the Middle East. The response has been overwhelming.

The AJN and its fellow-travellers want to believe that victimhood is the preferred state of the Jewish community and robust debate about Israel is best done in private, if at all. Here’s a wake-up call: they’re being left behind in the debate by refusing to acknowledge legitimate criticisms of the Jewish state. Remaining silent in the face of ongoing Israeli barbarity in Gaza and the West Bank makes them complicit. But, of course, it’s only Palestinian suffering.

5 comments ↪
  • Just finished reading your book Antony. Well done.

    Having read a lot, it was a refreshing change to see someone write on the 'media conflict' over Israel-Palestine from an Australian perspective. It wasn't great to see just how parlous the state of debate is here, but it's a welcome prod by reality for those who want our media to provide a more open, informative and challenging take on the conflict. At least, that is what I hope your book may stimulate. It would be interesting to monitor news/opinion output over the coming year and see if there was any discernable change in coverage.

    Congrats.

  • Antony Loewenstein

    Thanks Michael,
    The response to the book thus far suggests that many people are really ready to challenge the Zionist agenda. As for journos and editors, well, we'll be keeping the pressure up.

  • John Swanston

    Thank you for coming to Brisbane – I attended the said gathering and appreciated three members of the Jewish family could speak with civil tongues about this topic. It has seemed to me that tying the existence of the state of Israel to the holocaust involves the tragic transference of the guilt of Europe onto the Palestinians. Not one Palestinian sent a Jew to their death in Europe. Nor was any Palestinian involved in the thousand plus years of progroms in Europe. Yet Golda Meir treated that as non persons. The rabbi at the funeral of the Jewish terrorist who killed Muslims at prayer in a mosque could say – a million palestinians are not worth the fingernail of a Jew. It doesn't make sense. If he had said a million Germans or a million europeans, one could understand – even though it has a bad taste about it.
    I trust you received some encouragement from you trip to Brisbane to continue with your voice being heard – for the sake of Israel and for the sake of justice for the Palestinian.

    As a Christian, I recognise that I must needs be extremely cautious in what I say or write about Israel given what my co-religionists have done to Jews. But I do know I must address the Zionists within "my Chirstian family" who have, particularly in the US and to a lesser extent in Australia, influenced the political climate here. The way that so many treated Hanan Ashrawi when she came to Australia is indicative of this.

  • Craig Berkman

    Antony,

    Just finished your book… cover-to-cover which is a bit unusual for my short attention span… and found it to be an excellent approach to a conflict which none of us really believes will ever see a solution!! I missed your appearances in Brisbane but look forward to meeting you at some future time.

    I thought one of the most significant aspects of your work was the fact that most of what you wrote was not your personal opinions but rather a compilation of many opinions and works from BOTH sides of the argument.

    It was disappointing to read that you were prevented from going into Gaza. I have been there many times as a TV news cameraman and I just love going there. Hopefully you will visit one day. You'll be shocked by what you see when you get there.

    I was working in Israel during disengagement. It was an appalling time for everyone. I could feel for the pain of families forced to move after decades in the settlement bloc (many young people had known no other home) but I believed they never should have been there in the first place. More later.

    Keep up the good work.

    Craig Berkman

  • John Swanston

    Taking a few steps back but staying with the response to your book, I was interested in how you felt the Late Line interview with Tony Jones went. Mr Lapkin was out of place. Tony Jones seemed at all time to show deference to him, to check with him. Yet at no time when Mr Lapkin, or others of the right wing commentariat from the Jewish community are interviewed is there another to check their story.
    It all seemed very patronising. … so with the silly comment of "rookie Journalist" reported in this epistle.