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.

Driven to mute voice of dissent

The following article appears in today’s edition of the Australian newspaper:

Louise Adler 

Almost 10 years ago, the then Israeli ambassador to Australia Gaby Levy requested a meeting to discuss my views on the Middle East. Levy had read a review I had written on Edward Said’s recently published memoirs.

In that review I described my youthful disenchantment with Israel, a state I imagined to be a utopian oasis, only to discover in the early 1970s a society deeply divided on race, class and religious lines.

We spent an hour together in which Levy argued vehemently that my views should not be aired in the nation’s broadsheets and that dissenting Jews should not air the community’s dirty linen in public. I was advised to refocus my attention on condemning terrorism.

That the ambassador felt it necessary to devote time to apply pressure over commentary in a book review indicates the high degree of sensitivity at play.

Two years ago, while with Princeton University Press, I proudly published a lecture series, titled The Question of Zion, by eminent scholar Jacqueline Rose.

The announcement of a public debate to be hosted by Melbourne University Publishing at the Melbourne Writers Festival was met by hostility and abuse.

Subsequently, the prospect of a book by journalist Antony Loewenstein, My Israel Question, produced further acrimony.

One Labor MP, to shore up his own waning political fortunes, declared: “MUP should drop this whole disgusting project.” He exhorted the Jewish community: “If, god forbid, it is published, don’t give them a dollar. Don’t buy the book.”

It is not necessary to dwell on the ludicrous proposition that a book should be prejudged and condemned before it is published.

When Loewenstein’s book did finally appear last July a concerted campaign to discredit the author and MUP was launched. Booksellers were urged not to stock the book, protests were made to the vice-chancellor of the University of Melbourne, and journalists were pressured in an effort to control debate about the issues the book raised.

In my experience, this campaign has been relentless, abusive and defamatory. In more than one instance, Loewenstein has been equated with Helen Demidenko-Darville-Dale. As his publisher, I have been equated with Leonie Kramer in her public support for an anti-Semitic tract. According to this logic, I am the publisher of a fraudster and the purveyor of anti-Semitism.

In this context, rational and respectful debate are jettisoned in favour of tactics designed to silence criticism. For anyone concerned with probity in literary matters, the suggestion is laughable. With Pamela Bone’s prescient support, I helped initiate a discussion about a book on the Demidenko charade.

Leaving the personal insults to one side, the important issue is that critics of Israel’s policies are reflexively characterised as anti-Semitic.

The vigorous attempt to silence critics is not unique to Australia. In the US and Britain the publication of similar material has been met with a torrent of abuse.

When American academics John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt published their research on the Zionist lobby, not one American media outlet would accept their paper. It took more than a year before literary publisher Farrar Strauss Giroux offered the scholars a book contract.

Of course, this is a propaganda war. The argument, put simply, is that Israel is the Jewish homeland, a refuge for all Jews against incipient, ever-present anti-Semitism of both the Orient and the Occident.

Today the duty of diaspora Jews is to support Israel against the Arab world’s desire to drive the Jews into the sea and to reclaim Jerusalem. This political position is clearly the product of anxiety, predicated on the notion of Jews as victims. Critics of Israel are deemed to be both anti-Zionist and anti-Semitic.

Debate has to be suppressed because Israel is forever on the precipice of annihilation and diaspora Jews should support the state, whether its position is right or wrong. Independent Australian Jewish Voices is a loose coalition of Jews who resist this view. They share an urgent concern for a just peace in Israel and Palestine and the desire for civil public debate in the diaspora. The necessity for such a declaration is evident from the community leadership’s response to this modest initiative. Signatories have been labelled the usual suspects, as liars and anti-Semites.

The term “Jewish-born individuals” is used pejoratively. The language is instructive.

It implies that critics of Israel are traitors, not proper members of the Jewish community, and therefore without legitimacy. People were last identified as “Jewish-born” under the Third Reich. I know I am not alone in finding such terminology offensive. My grandfather died in Auschwitz precisely because of his Jewish identity.

In the murky realm of the internet more than one hooligan has resorted to signing our letter as Adolf Hitler. Another contributor signs on as Chaim Rumkowski, the head of the Lodz ghetto who could be seen on high holidays travelling through the ghetto in a white carriage.

He is also remembered for his speech, “Give me your children”, in which he asked families to give up their children for deportation. He collaborated with the Nazis until his deportation in 1944. The implicit suggestion is that sincere signatories are collaborators, like Rumkowski. It is sickening.

Criticism of Israel is not the same as disputing Israel’s right to exist. It is only a threat to all Jews if you believe that Israel alone represents the Jewish people. For some individuals this is the case.

But there are others of equal sincerity who do not see their identity and future to be bound up with the fate of Israel. Crude simplifications have to be resisted. It is surely possible to believe that both Palestinians and Israelis have a right to statehood. It is equally reasonable to condemn both Palestinian suicide bombings and Israel military brutality in the occupied territories.

Some years ago the Australian Jewish News proudly devoted its front page to the single triumphant line “One people, one voice”. It was a calculated exhortation, a strategy to inflame fear and reignite a tragically familiar sense of embattlement. To argue that all Jews agree on Israel or that Israel represents all Jews is to conflate Jews with Israel. This is an impoverished and dangerously reductive notion inadequate to the complexity of the times.

Louise Adler is the chief executive and publisher of Melbourne University Publishing.

one comment ↪
  • Addamo

    What a superb article. Louise Adler so elegantly destroys the vile arguments of eh pro Zionist lobby.

    So much for allowing independent discussion – it's only OK so long as you don't dare disagree with the status quo.