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.

Who is the real terrorist?

Amy Goodman, Truthdig, April 25:

A terrorist lives in Miami. He is not in hiding, or part of some sleeper cell. He’s an escaped convict, wanted internationally for blowing up a jetliner. His name is Luis Posada Carriles. As the nation was focused on the Virginia Tech shooting, the Bush administration quietly allowed Posada’s release from a federal immigration detention center.

It was Oct. 6, 1976, a clear day in the Caribbean. Cubana Airlines Flight 455 departed from Barbados, bound for Cuba, with a stop in Trinidad. Posada then ran a private investigative firm in Venezuela. Two of his employees were on the flight, deplaned in Trinidad and left C-4 plastic explosive on board, disguised as a tube of toothpaste. Shortly after takeoff, the bomb exploded and the plane went down. All 73 people on board were killed.

Among them were six young Guyanese students on their way to Cuba to study medicine. Now an American citizen, Roseanne Nenninger, sister of Raymond Persaud, one of those students, was 11 years old when her brother was killed: “We had a huge farewell party for our brother and everyone came, the family members, everyone from the local community, all his friends, school friends, so it was a great day for all of us. And the next day, we all went to the airport. He was dressed in his brown suit that was made by a tailor especially for him getting on a plane. It was his first time on an airplane. We watched him walk on the tarmac and head onto the airplane. And it was a great moment for all of us.”

Within hours, he was dead. He was just one of the victims, one of 73. There was also the entire Cuban Olympic fencing team, young athletes. Each with a name, each with a story. The Cubana Airlines bombing remains to this day the only midair bombing of a civilian airliner in the Western Hemisphere. Posada was tried and convicted in Venezuela of organizing the bombing. He was imprisoned, then escaped in 1985.

Posada, who will be 80 next year, is a Cuban-born Venezuelan national. He has been a violent opponent of Fidel Castro since the early 1960s. Declassified CIA and FBI documents reveal the extent of Posada’s violent career. Through the decades he hopscotched around Latin America, smuggling arms, running drugs, plotting coups, working with Augusto Pinochet’s dreaded secret police, assisting with Oliver North’s illegal Contra war against Nicaragua—the list goes on. He was a paid CIA “asset,” and also served in the U.S. Army, rising to the rank of second lieutenant, at Fort Benning, Ga. He has been implicated in the bombing of hotels in Havana. He was caught and convicted of attempting to assassinate Castro in Panama.

Thanks to the Federation of American Scientists’ Government Secrecy Project and the private, nonprofit National Security Archive at George Washington University, the public can read for itself the declassified documents. These documents show what it means for U.S. intelligence agencies to work with “unsavory” characters. Endeavors like the failed Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba of 1961 and the failed Iran-Contra program need operatives, and so the U.S. government hires violent criminals and overlooks their conduct, as long as the policy objectives are being pursued.

And so it is ironic that on the anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing, April 19, following the mass slaughter on the Virginia Tech campus, the U.S. government quietly released this convicted terrorist and mass murderer.

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Persecution and stifling democracy

The efforts of Azmi Bishara have drawn the fircsest of retaliations from the Israeli government. Sonja Karkar illustrates how Israel’s Jewish identity may come at the expense of democracy.

All of Israel’s one million plus Palestinian residents ­ the survivors and descendants of the 1948 Zionist ethnic cleansing of Palestine – have long felt discriminated against, despite Israel paying lip-service to their democratic rights. They also felt on the sidelines of what was being played out in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, that is until Azmi Bishara, the outspoken political leader of the National Democratic Assembly (NDA) or Balad in Israel and a Knesset member, began campaigning for the collective rights of Palestinians. His vision is not just for change inside Israel, but involves an all-inclusive civil rights struggle against political Zionism – the racist and colonialist policies that have dispossessed, marginalised and oppressed all Palestinians for almost 60 years. This is what Israel is at pains to put down by any means. It cannot afford to have someone like Azmi Bishara rallying people to his way of thinking. Now, after many attempts to muzzle him, Israel has finally succeeded in getting him to resign from the Knesset and to stay out of the country.

A list of unpublished charges were drawn up against Bishara whilst he was abroad – charges so serious that they would likely have landed him in jail on his return. While the charges themselves are not known, it is not difficult to guess at what they involve. Bishara has been previously charged with undermining the “Jewish nature of the state”, but the charges have always been dropped. This time it seems that Israel’s state security services may have formulated charges that not only label Bishara a national security threat, but accuse him of treason and espionage. The media is not allowed to discuss any of it and even Bishara himself is reticent on the matter, no doubt to protect himself from being further arraigned because he is adamant that he will eventually return to Israel.

The creation of a Jewish state was certainly justified on moral grounds, but is the purity of Israel’s Jewish indentity so important to Israel that it is willing to succumb to fascism? Surely if the case for Israel’s Jewish indentity were so solid, such draconian measures would not be necessary.


Surge backfiring

The deadly attack that claimed the most US deaths since the invasion of Iraq hasn’t stopped the right wing blogosphere from spinning its wheels to convince their flock (or what remains of them) that the Surge Is Working:

I fully expect…that we’re going to see a sea change in coverage because “a majority of Iraq is under local control and relatively quiet” and all the MSM is going to realize that if they don’t get on the right side of this quickly, the deluge of broken credibility will very likely worsen and shorten their personal careers significantly.

I stretches the imagination to hear these people lecturing to their critics about broken credibility. Others are still faithfully clinging to the hope that they will get to have the last laugh, though the cowardly left wing media will under-report the victory. How’s this for wishful thinking?

By summer 2008, things will be have improved considerably in Iraq, but it will not be reported. The MSM will focus on the presidential election, and whoever is in favor of the Iraq engagement will be slammed by the MSM.

By spring 2009, the MSM will report that, yes, now everything is much better in Iraq. Whoever is president, especially if he/she is a democrat, will get the credit. Bush will still be blamed.

This guy sounds like a bad astrologer I once visited. Glenn Reynolds thinks it “Sounds plausible!”

As would be expected, they fail to mention the inconvenient developments taking place on the ground. Time asks if the surge is actually backfiring, in a report that paints an all too grim but familiar picture.

Even more significant, was yesterday’s admission that the cornerstone for the surge success, the training of Iraqi troops, is no longer the driving force of US policy

How will the US forces be able to stand down if the Iraq forces will never be able to stand up?

Don’t expect an explanation to be forthcoming from the likes of Instapundit.

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Two faces, one reality

Why do so many Jews insist, in Israel’s supposed best interests, that any potential US President believes in every position taken by the Israeli government?

Barack Obama, you’ve failed yet again.

Jewish paranoia is a most unattractive trait (especially when it’s totally unwarranted.)

Subservience to another country is hard to fathom here in Cuba. Sure, the Soviets used to support Castro, and now Chavez has unofficially replaced them, but it’s hardly the same thing. The longer I stay here, the more I note the growing fascination with Israel (I’ve spent time with Havana’s Jewish community, but more on this soon.)

In fact, although the regime is utterly opposed to the actions of Israel – mainly to be against the US and to show solidarity with the Palestinians – the country remains in fact close to the Jewish state, and always has been. One face for the public, and another for pragmatism.

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The enemy within

The most recent corruption scandal is symptomatic of something much deeper in Israel, according to Uri Avneri, Aharon Amir, and Haim Guri. These men believe that the greatest threat to Israel is not an existential one, but brought about through the loss of direction as envisaged by the founding fathers.

Israel’s independence is safe from outside threat, but great threats lie within”, said Avneri. “Corruption is almost everywhere. The country bears no resemblance to what we had in mind when it was founded. We have completely lost all sense of responsibility for one another, of mercy and of compassion.

To add further to this, the 2006 Lebanon war has left the country feeling vulnerable and leaderless.

The 34-day war in Lebanon, starting July 12 last year, was a disastrous turning point for Israel. Until the Eliyahu Winograd Commission, which Olmert set up in September 2006, delivers its interim report in late April – which will cover the first five days of the war only – and resolves these matters, we will not know precisely the orders sent to specific units or the timing of all of the actors, but there is already a consensus on far more important fundamentals. But the Israelis did not lose the war because of orders given or not given to various officers.

So what would the founding fathers have thought about the Israel of today, particularly the vast divide between rich and poor?

“Sixty years later, this isn’t where we thought we’d be”, added Guri. “Alongside all the wonderful things that happened here, we have the terrible things, revealing society’s wounds”.

As for the values of society in Israeli, it seems that the state has inherited more from the US than generous helpings of financial and military aid.

“Morality is a dirty word nowadays”, said Avnery when asked if our society, our norms, the illusive sense of moral, have all changed. “Back then solidarity and innocence were corner stones of the society. People barely made ends meet, but believed they were building the ideal society. Today they would be considered suckers”.

Indeed, given that the basis for Israel’s creation rested so heavily on the events surrounding WWII, it is a sad indictment on the state that the real victims who Israel has vowed to protect have been largely forgotten.

“…. 40% of survivors in Israel are living below the poverty line, Israel Radio has reported.”

It no surprise then that the three men share an obvious sentiment:

“This is not the Israel we dreamed of”


Words fail, again

Sometimes the Australian Jewish community excels at providing priceless parody:

Prime Minister John Howard will be honoured with a Jewish National Fund (JNF) forest in his name at a gala dinner in Melbourne next month.

To be named the John Howard Negev Forest, the forest will be located in Israel’s Negev region, the focus of the JNF’s Negev Now campaign.

What next? A nuclear warhead, aimed at Tehran, called “The Delicious Dick Cheney”? Thank you AIPAC.

Meanwhile, back in Cuba, the media has a few thoughts on the recent US release of terrorist Luis Posada Carriles and ties grow between China and Cuba.

Being in Cuba still reminds me of a nation caught between yesterday’s victories and today’s restrictions.


NSW Premier’s Literary Award short-list

My Israel Question has been short-listed for the 2007 NSW Premier’s Literary Awards. It is an honour to be recognised in such a prestigious category (though I clearly have no idea if I will win, announced late May.)

I’ll comment more fully in the coming weeks and month, but I look forward to the accusations of anti-Semitism by the usual suspects towards the judging panel.

To the awards themselves, I thank them for the acknowledgement.


Falling like dominos

Another Israeli politician is on the ropes.

The 66-year-old former labour leader is accused of involvement in the embezzlement of about 10 million shekels ($2.94 million) from a union he chaired and from an associated charity.

At this rate, it there won’t be anyone left to govern.  This corruption epidemic must be contagious.


Smearing Cheney’s critics

After the colossal embarrassment the Bush Administration suffered last week, when 3 former generals all turned down the position fo war Czar, The Washington Times step in to try and swiftboat the most outspoken of the three.

The Times’ military reporter Bill Gertz — who frequently propagates information that comes from Cheney’s office — wrote that Sheehan is a “liberal military officer” and a “defeatist” opposing the Iraq war.

Gertz went on to slime Sheehan  as only a vitriolic right wing sycophant can.

Officials pointed out one of Gen. Sheehan’s shortcomings during his active-duty career: a past association with Defense Intelligence Agency analyst Ana Belen Montes, who in 2002 was convicted as one of the most notorious U.S. traitors and a damaging spy for the communist regime in Cuba.

Sheehan didn’t take this attack lying down and  obliterated the hatchet job by Gertz  with a very simple argument.  Why did the White House consider him if his reputation were so tarnished?

Gen. Sheehan, in an e-mail, dismissed both claims about his candidacy for the czar post and past ties to Montes as “incorrect.”

Before being asked by the White House, “I am sure they checked my credentials and the record indicated I was an American who had served both Republicans and Democrats,” Gen. Sheehan said. “Deal with the issue at hand on an objective basis, not character defamation.”

Needless to say, The Washington Times’ selection smear job against Sheehan conveniently omitted the fact that two other former generals, and supporters of the Iraq war, also turned down the job.

No doubt another example of the left wing media in action.

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Cheney’s concern for Israel

The even compassionate Dick Cheney is worried about what a withdrawl from Iraq would mean for his beloved Israel.

“We must consider, as well, just what a precipitous withdrawal would mean to our other efforts in the war on terror, to our interests in the broader Middle East, and to Israel,” the U.S. vice president said over the weekend to a Republican Jewish Coalition leadership gathering in Latana, Fla.

Notice he makes no mention of the welfare of the people of Iraq? After all, they do owe the US a debt of gratitude for being liberated.


How the US creates terror

Are official North American authorities supporting Holocaust denial?

Robert Fisk discovers an answer in the affirmative.


Does democracy threaten Israel?

The challenges for Israel and it’s obsession with maintaining it’s Jewish indentity are comming thick and fast.

A Christian Palestinian member of the Israeli Knesset, Dr. Azmi Bishara, who is travelling, is apparently afraid to return to Israel for fear of being arrested by Israeli Security Agency that is accusing his of treason and espionage. So what did Bishara do?

Bishara, it seems, is a threat not because of any particular action or statement but because he has become a symbol of a new kind of opposition within Israel.

Israel stifling dissent? Never.

The Israeli leadership are threatened by a proposal and a movement that they will struggle to argue:

The authors of the document called “The Democratic Constitution” maintain that the Arab citizens of Israel should be considered a “homeland minority” with national rights. The idea is to transform Israel into a bilingual and multicultural democracy for all its citizens, rather than a Jewish democracy, which they argue is an oxymoron. Such transformation would inevitably mean changing the laws of citizenship and immigration so that citizenship would no longer be granted automatically to any Jew wishing to immigrate but rather to anyone born within Israel’s territory or whose parent or spouse is a citizen, or to people persecuted due to their political beliefs.

Not long after the documents’ publication, Israel’s second-largest newspaper, Ma’ariv, reported a meeting between the head of the security agency, Yuval Diskin, and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. During the meeting Diskin warned Olmert that the radicalization of Israel’s Arab citizens constitutes a “strategic threat to the state’s existence.” Diskin added that “the proliferation of the visionary documents published by the different Arab elites in Israel is particularly worrisome, [since] the documents are united by their conception of Israel as a state for all its citizens and not a Jewish state.” The head of the security services concluded that “the separatist and subversive patterns represented by the elites might engender a new direction and mobilize the masses.”

In other word, the Israeli government are openly admitting that democracy in Israel has to take a major back seat to the maintaining of Israel’s identity as a Jewish state. What’s more, they are prepared to go to any lengths to protect it – legal or otherwise:

Balad sent a letter protesting Diskin’s assertions, arguing that legitimate political activity whose aim is to change the state’s character should not be considered subversive or dangerous. According to Ha’aretz, the Israeli Security Agency replied that it “would foil the activity of anyone seeking to harm Israel’s Jewish or democratic character, even if that activity was carried out by legal means.”

Diskin’s words are telling. He admits not only that anyone who strives to alter the Jewish character of the state is considered an enemy and will be treated as such but that the secret service has no respect for democratic practices and procedures.

What greater indictment of Israel exists but the very admission that not only is it not a democratic state, but that democracy threatens it’s very existence?

More than anything else, Bishara constitutes a symbolic threat, since he personifies the recent demand of the Palestinian elite to transform Israel from a Jewish democracy to a democracy for all its citizens.