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 journalist and Islam

Last week saw Macquarie University’s Centre for Middle East and North African Studies – of which I’m a board member – hold a two-day conference on “The Journalist and Islam: competing agendas, political correctness and the war on terror.” The range of speakers was diverse – and included former NSW Premier Bob Carr, Federal Health Minister Tony Abbott, Murdoch columnist Janet Albrechtsen, former ABC head Peter Manning and yours truly – discussing issues such as Israel/Palestine, Muslim identity, media bias and representation and the Murdoch line on the “war on terror”. The Australian’s opinion editor, Tom Switzer, has published his speech in today’s paper:

Another charge that has gained currency in recent times is that the media, in its general coverage of Muslim-related issues, has ignited “racism and religious bigotry”. In the case of the Cronulla riots, talkback radio host Alan Jones was singled out for allegedly stoking the violence that weekend. Yet the majority of his audience is older than 40 and the rioters at Cronulla were half that age. Besides, talkback hosts are merely raising and debating a subject that has been taboo for too long: that a significant group of Muslims is much more resistant to integration into Western society than other ethnic groups. It is surely far better to discuss openly uncomfortable community concerns than letting them fester.

In recent weeks, The Australian has also been condemned for publishing and debating extensively Hilali’s speech that compared immodestly dressed women to meat left out for cats, and blaming them for sexual assaults. The Australian’s decision to highlight the story has amounted to a “media lynching” of the Muslim cleric, according to online journalist Peter Botsman. Similar complaints have been raised by Carlton and the website crikey.com.au.

Yet this newspaper published and debated extensively the story – which gained an international audience – not because of any desire to “lynch” the cleric, but because his remarks go to the heart of one of the world’s most intractable problems: the clash between conservative Islam and Western modernity, specifically equality between the sexes. This is not just a problem in western Sydney’s Lakemba, the Mufti’s home territory. It is a problem across the world, from Bali to Madrid, from New York to Amsterdam, from London to Paris.

Held in the NSW Parliament (with the event critiqued by Muslim commentator Irfan Yusuf here), the timely conference attracted close to 100 participants from across the country. It was refreshing to hear a wide variety of views debated in a (generally) friendly and tolerant manner. I may have personally disagreed with many remarks made by the Murdoch players – and they didn’t exactly impress with their knowledge of Islam and Muslim issues, despite writing extensively about them – but a meeting of differing political shades is a welcome development.

My paper, “Taking on Palestine: a Jewish journalist’s perspective” (read it here), talked about the ways in which debate on Israel/Palestine has started to open up in the last years and the experience of writing My Israel Question:

As a journalist who writes extensively on the Israel/Palestine conflict – and recently released the best-selling book, My Israel Question – I have discovered that our mainstream media has long ago dictated the acceptable bounds of debate. Challenging Zionist ideology, Israeli government policy or military tactics and the nearly 40-year illegal occupation of Palestinian land is virtually verboten in polite company. And yet speaking out has never been more important.

As a human being first and a Jew second, I have faced my fair share of slanderous attacks for simply stating the obvious; Israel in its current form is a danger to both the Middle East and the world. It is equally painful to admit that far too few Jews are willing to speak out against these atrocities, either out of cowardice or complicity.

Former US President Jimmy Carter, currently touring the United States to promote his new book, Palestine: Peace not Apartheid, said this week that America must take a more “balanced view” of the conflict, yet acknowledged that the likelihood of such action was remote. Why? It would be “unimaginable” for a politician, he lamented, to blame Israel for the never-ending violence and still gain office. The power of the Zionist lobby and the unwillingness of the mainstream media to reveal the reality on the ground are partly to blame. Likewise, few journalists are willing to actually spend time away from seductive Tel Aviv nightclubs and see for themselves the effect of Israeli occupation policy down the road in Palestine.

7 comments ↪
  • Hi, I found your blog through Global Voices. It takes courage to criticize your "owns". The situation seems so complicated and at the same time, I feel it is so easy to understand each other. Anyway, if you have time have a look at my blog, your comments are most welcome.

  • Keith

    Courage? He's got a book deal out of it and a position on the board at Macquarie plus heaps of articles published merely because he's a Jew that wants to see Israel cease to exist. His writing is full of factual errors.

  • John Swanston

    Keith either misses the point entirely or does not want to read. He clearly fails to understand that Jews like every other relational group have differing opinions. He fails to understand that the need to have an open discussion about the Israel- Palestine "Issue" is vital for the long term well being of both Jew and Palestinian.
    The broader issue of the Journalist and Islam demands the voice of the Arab, the Palestinian, the Iranian the Indonesian, the Malaysian, the Bosnia being heard among the voices discussing the Middle East, Islam. Perhaps Al-Jazerra should be invited to take up a tv station in Sydney and Melbourne. Then we might hear and see a truly different voice among the gaggle of voice currently heard.This, of course, would be in keeping with John Howards desire to have diverstiy in the Australian media.

  • Joel

    I find it interesting that factual errors are pointed out but not made explicit! Anyone can accuse someone of an uninformed opinion. It takes courage to take a standpoint, such as Antony's, unashamedly and with conviction. I saw Antony's talk and heard the comments under breath's from particular members of the audience. Even though this was a Macquarie organised event, it is clear that Antony was not merely preaching to the converted. Taking an informed, refreshing viewpoint takes courage and for this reason, i can only applaud.

  • viva peace

    I have been told that Anthony is an atheist and a socialist. He hates the Jewish community, does not speak Hebrew, does not observe Jewish holidays, traditions, or rituals, and only spent two weeks in Israel for the first time in his life after he had begun blogging his anti-Isreali screeds.

    How does that make him a "Jewish" journalist?

  • Suze

    Do you mean that the only "good jew" is a religiously observant, uncritical one? From outside the community that kind of definition of jewishness is considered inherently antisemitic.

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