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.

The gift that keeps on giving

As a Jew writing about the Israel/Palestine conflict, it is clear that many fellow Jews are fundamentally opposed to robust debate on the Middle East. They simply look away, refusing to acknowledge the depths of depravity perpetuated by the Israelis in the occupied territories. A profound moral blind-spot suddenly appears, and Jews become insulated from criticism or censure. Or so they think.

The hatred of Jews and Israel is growing around the world, and the reasons for this are clearly linked to the Jewish state’s rampant misbehaviour (encouragingly, a recent poll suggests that many young Americans no longer feel that Israel is a central part of their lives.) This year’s release of the Israel Lobby paper – an important debate about US/Israel relations – caused a firestorm. The authors are now working on a book about this subject (due for release around September 2007) and this will undoubtedly force even more Americans to reassess the open-ended US support for Israel. Many prominent Jews, including George Soros, are fighting against the expectation that Jews will support whatever government resides in Israel as well as its policies, no matter the cost to Palestinians, Lebanese or Jews.

Since I started writing about the conflict in 2003, I’ve discovered that one individual in particular, Federal Labor Jewish MP Michael Danby, is singularly lacking in curiosity on the great issues facing Israel (some background here and here.) For him and his fellow travellers, Israel is constantly striving for peace, kind to the Palestinians and Israeli Arabs, always acting defensively and a proud democracy in the heart of a dirty Middle East. Israel cannot be criticised. Jews cannot be challenged. It is, as one American academic recently said, “a Warsaw Ghetto of the mind.”

During the 2004 election campaign, both Danby and his Liberal Party Jewish opponent damned me in their campaign material for defending the 2003 Sydney Peace Prize winner Hanan Ashrawi and contributing to the best-selling book, Not Happy, John! Suffice to say, the sight of supposedly grown men proving their obedience to Zionism was amusing to behold.

In August 2005, Danby wrote a letter to the Australian Jewish News condemning my (unpublished and unfinished) book, demanding my (very supportive) publisher, Melbourne University Press, not proceed and urging “the Australian Jewish community, and particularly the Australian Jewish News, to treat it with dignified silence. That is our best response. If, God forbid, it is published, don’t give them a dollar. Don’t buy the book.” Since that point, Danby has spent an inordinate amount of taxpayer dollars ranting and railing about the dangers of My Israel Question. Suffice to say, his campaigning has been an abject failure.

The book moved into a 2nd reprint within a week of hitting the shops in early August. It is now in its 3rd reprint (with an added booklet) and remains on many best-seller charts around the country. The message has been widely disseminated by virtually all media outlets in the country and reviewed extensively. I have been invited around the nation to speak at writer’s festivals, public meetings, universities, media outlets, forums and lecture halls. There has been some overseas interest, as well.

The response has been overwhelmingly positive (despite also receiving a healthy percentage of hate-mail, principally from Jews). I have now received over 1000 letters and emails from both Australia and overseas from people telling me their very personal take on the book, its message and the desperate need for a public debate on matters of Zionism, occupation and Judaism. Rather than ignore the book, as Danby and his ilk wished, it has been warmly embraced by any number of Jews, Muslims, aethiests and many others.

The reality is that the debate has completely left the hard-line Zionists behind. Through its actions, Israel has become a rogue state that consistently ignores the will of the international community and the UN. A state that is expanding, not reducing, the occupation. A political system that is about to welcome into its heart a fascist who believes in the ethnic cleansing of Arabs and Palestinians. In the Jewish Diaspora, honest debate on these matters is constantly stifled by the Zionist lobby and its obedient followers.

But the tide is clearly turning and the response to both the Israel Lobby report and my book proves this point. The more smears, personal attacks, innuendo and slander thrown by the Zionist lobby, the greater their ideology looks strained and desperate. I’ve lost count of the number of Jews, many of whom vehemently disagree with my position, who believe that Danby and the Zionist lobby are doing their cause serious damage through their counter-productive tactics. I liken them to rats on a sinking ship, aware of their fate but truly incapable of doing anything about it.

The latest chapter in the saga emerged last week in the Australian Jewish News. Danby placed a four-page advertisement – your tax-dollars at work and maybe the assistance of a Zionist lobby like AIJAC? – in an attempt to convince his electorate and the Jewish community in general that he was “standing up for our community” (you can download the document here: Danby PDF). Page 3 is the highlight (though he also slams my appointment to the board of Macquarie University’s Centre for Middle East and North African Studies and its head Dr Andrew Vincent):

Danby on MUP

The piece, framed as a slice of investigate journalism and agit-prop, attempts to justify why the Jewish MP stood up to Melbourne University Publishing, my publisher Louise Adler and yours truly. I am “entitled to my views – ignorant, offensive and superficial though they are – but I don’t apologise for my decision to launch a ‘pre-emptive’ strike against his book last year.” A book, I should add, that he hadn’t read (though I’m reliably told he now has read it, hopefully paying full price for the pleasure.)

I wasn’t aware that politicians were in the business of providing seemingly never-ending free publicity for first-time authors. I’m accused of being ignorant, naive, extreme, bigoted and “little-known”. The real question is this: why is Danby, one year before a Federal election, pushing out propaganda about a book over which he no control or influence? His pre-selection is safe and yet he clearly feels so rattled he wants his electorate to think he’s standing up to these dangers in the Jewish community (does he not have a decent media advisor?)

Danby wants a Jewish community that doesn’t speak out of line, that allows him and a handful of other equally unthinking Zionists to dictate policy and positions on the Middle East. He can’t accuse me of anti-Semitism (a favourite ploy of many Zionists) so he prefers the option of attempted character assassination. Unfortunately for him, the result just looks pathetic (and the book continues to sell and sell.)

But wait, there’s more. Last weekend, I was interviewed by the Geelong Advertiser about anti-Semitism. I argued that anti-Semitism does exist, but is often exaggerated by the Jewish community in times of Middle East crisis (evidence for the prosecution here). I also stated that whenever there is heightened tension in the Middle East, anti-Jewish sentiment increases. It is unquestionably true that brutal Israeli actions are contributing to increased anti-Semitism around the world (likewise, the Iraq war is causing anti-Americanism.) This logic is lost on the MP for Melbourne Ports.

These comments were clearly unacceptable to the self-appointed Jewish community watch-dog, so he released a press statement:

Michael Danby, Federal Member for Melbourne Ports, has condemned anti-Israel polemicist Antony Loewenstein for his attempt to explain the recent anti-Semitic attacks in Melbourne by blaming them on Israel.

Following the anti-Semitic attack on Menachem Vorchheimer in Melbourne last week, Mr Loewenstein was interviewed by the Geelong Advertiser, and suggested that the attack was caused by Israeli actions. “My feeling is that Israeli actions in Israel and Palestine and more recently Lebanon are clearly related to a rise in anti-Semitic attacks,” he said.

“It’s no surprise that Mr Loewenstein, who has made a career of attacking Israel and the Australian Jewish community, should now be found blaming Israel for the actions of anti-Semitic yobbos such as those who attacked Mr Vorchheimer,” Michael Danby said. “This fits in with a pattern of Mr Loewenstein’s behaviour which includes saying about the comedian Sandy Guttman (Austen Tayshus), he said at his website: ‘Jews are often their own worst enemies. It might help if Tayshus didn’t look so much like those awful caricatures we know from the 1930s!’”

“What can we expect from the author of a book which has been praised by the anti-Semites of the Australian League of Rights? [ed: my response to this here.] It is disgusting that someone who says he is proud to be a Jew should seek to use this attack to further his ideological campaign against Israel.

“The fact is that the people who attacked Mr Vorchheimer did not make any reference to Israel or the Palestinians. They said ‘Go the Nazis’ and made shooting gestures at Mr Vorchheimer and his children. In other words they were straight-out anti-Semites, not people outraged by Israeli actions.”

In his Geelong Advertiser interview, Mr Loewenstein denies that there has been a rise in anti-Semitic attacks. “For the Jewish community to say there’s a wave of anti-Semitism occurring is nonsense, it’s just not true,” Mr Loewenstein said.

Michael Danby pointed out that ECAJ’s figures show a clear rise in anti-Semitic attacks and abuse in Victoria this year.

“There have been five reported attacks on Jews in Caulfield alone this year. In March a 17-year-old boy was beaten up by four men who shouted ‘Fuck off Jews’ and gave Nazi salutes,” Danby said. “I would ask his publisher and chief apologist, Louise Adler of Melbourne University Press, whether she agrees with these comments, and what she will do to rein in Loewenstein’s excuses for violent attacks on Jews.

“One minute Mr Loewenstein says there is no rise in these attacks, which is untrue, and in the next breath he says that there is a rise in attacks, but that this is due to Israel’s actions – which is also untrue,” Danby said. “Mr Loewenstein should make up his mind. He should also stop trying to drag his campaign of denigration against Israel into every issue that comes along. He should join the rest of the Jewish community, and indeed all decent Australians, in condemning anti-Semitism.”


I’m a proud Jew who believes that present-day Israel will cease to exist unless it radically changes its worldview. US support for the Jewish state will not last forever (and some Zionist groups are already concerned about the turning of the tide.) Its future lies in the Middle East amongst the Arab world. After the devastation of the Lebanon war, and Israel’s first military loss in its history, the general public is starting to realise that Israel’s aggressive and arrogant stance is unsustainable (during the recent Lebanon conflict, Roy Morgan polling discovered that a majority of Australians rightly blamed Israel and the US for the escalation.)

Danby and his fellow travellers (including the parlous Australian Jewish News) will continue to blame everybody else except themselves and Israel for the Middle East problems. In one breath, I’m a danger, and the next it’s Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. So many threats, so little time.

As I said during the recent Brisbane’s Writer’s Festival:

It’s time for Jews to stop blaming everybody else for Israeli failures. 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.

Israel and its supporters have a choice; either acknowledge the price of maintaining a racially exclusionary state in the heart of the Middle East or face extinction. Danby puts his head in the sand and flounders. Many others, including any number I’ve met in the last years, are actively working to ensure Israel’s future and Palestinian statehood. Famed Jewish barrister Robert Richter QC said during this year’s Melbourne Writer’s Festival that I was a “truer and closer friend” to Israel than those who believed they “had the ear” of Israel’s Government. “Diaspora Jews need to take a stand,” he said. “It’s not good enough that they have a private audience with the Israeli leader. They ought to be saying some pretty loud things and not just murmuring approval.”

Danby is a murmurer. More and more Jews have chosen a more intellectually rigorous and morally sustainable position.

UPDATE: The following letter appears in this week’s Australian Jewish News:

I have written and published three books over the last four years. They may or may not be at the cutting edge of Australian literature, but at least they have all been reviewed in the AJN. Another novel is in the pipeline (working title:  Now Hit Enter), and with luck it should grace the bookshops early next year. Now, because the sales of Antony Loewenstein’s book seem to have gone through the roof, I respectfully ask Michael Danby MP to say nothing about it anywhere, thereby “giving it a credibility it didn’t deserve”.

That should do the trick.
Steve Brook
Elwood, Vic 

  • Great post, Antony.

    It would be good to see Federal Labor actively distancing themselves from voices like Mr Danby's.

    Maybe you should consider sitting for election as a candidate … How about Melbourne Ports as an electorate?

  • Hana

    Or Sydney! I'd vote for you Antony as I am sure MANY, MANY others would too!

    Great Idea!

  • Brilliant bit, Ant.

    I'm a little confused, what's this Danby feller do for a living, aside from kitten-swiping at you? Considering he only once had to come up with the tripe he's incessantly repeating, even that couldn't be a full-time gig.

  • Neil

    I saw the Danby ad in the AJN. In it, he quotes Rose, from "her book" Army of Roses . A bit of research shows that the only connection between this book and Rose is that the title has a word in it that is very close to her name. Good research, Michael! BTW, the phrase "Is this normal?" which Michael finds in the book isn't in fact there

  • Bernadotte

    Mike holds a seat for the "left" in the Australian federal parliament. In his spare time he defends Israel, defames Arabs, stifles debate in the Australian parliament, and plagarizes talking points from the PNAC script:


    * All of Iraq's 240 hospitals and more than 1200 clinics are open and have been re-equipped.

    * Since April more than 22 million vaccination doeses have been given to Iraqi children

    * For the first time in its history, Iraq has an independant judiciary, with 400 courts functioning.

    * All 22 Universities and 43 technical institutes and colleges are open, as are nearly all primary and secondary schools.

    * Most cities and towns now have elected governments, and the interim Iraqi authorities are now in charge of most day-to-day government.

    – Michael Danby, The Australian, October 20, 2003.



    L. Paul Bremer

    Coalition Provisional Authority Administrator

    Opening Remarks

    Press Conference 9 October 2003

    […] Six months ago there were no functioning courts in Iraq.

    * Today nearly all of Iraq’s 400 courts are functioning.

    * Today, for the first time in over a generation, the Iraqi judiciary is fully independent.

    […] Six months ago nearly all of Iraq’s schools were closed.

    * Today all 22 universities and 43 technical institutes and colleges are open, as are nearly all primary and secondary schools.


    * Today all 240 hospitals and more than 1200 clinics are open. […]

    * Pharmaceutical distribution has gone from essentially nothing to 700 tons in May to a current total of 12,000 tons.

    * Since liberation we have administered over 22 million vaccination doses to Iraq’s children.


  • Glenn Condell

    So he's a neocon and a liar (same thing); as well as a Likudnik. The ALP hould get rid of him.

    Great post Ant.

  • Don Wigan

    I agree with your reasoning, Antony. It is too important a battle to lose.

    Despite the diaspora in the past always being on the fringes of western society- sometimes brutally treated, sometimes meanly discrininated against, sometimes grudgingly accepted and sometimes accepted but barely noticed – they have made great contributions not just in industry and commerce but in music and the arts and academia and the professions where their numbers proportionately always seem higher than their actual percentage of the community.

    Mindless anti-semitism is largely confined to a few neo-nazis. Israel's belligerent bahaviour, its apartheid-type policies and the ruthless lobbying against critics here and in the US is ultimately going to lead to outbreaks of anti-semitism. Its people and followers deserve a lot better.

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