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.

Academics expand Israel lobby case

My following review appears in the November Australian Literary Review:

The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy
By John Mearsheimer and Stephen M. Walt
Allen Lane, 544pp, $49.95 (HB)

When “realist” academics John Mearsheimer of Chicago University and Stephen M. Walt of Harvard published their essay, The Israel Lobby, in the London Review of Books in March 2006, after US magazine The Atlantic Monthly refused to publish the piece it had commissioned, it caused a storm. They argued that the lobby, a loose collection of neo-conservatives, Christian fundamentalists, academics, commentators and politicians, had distorted US foreign policy to unconditional and unquestioning support of Israel. Moreover, it had become almost impossible to discuss Washington’s financial, diplomatic and political support for the Jewish state without incurring the charge of anti-Semitism.

The overwhelmingly hostile response to the essay seemed to prove Edward Said’s point that the Israeli-American relationship was the last great taboo in the US.

Mearsheimer and Walt have expanded their work into an equally controversial book, The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy. Despite a few missteps, they have largely succeeded in articulating why, in their view, Israel is a “strategic liability” for the US:

Given Israel’s brutal treatment of the Palestinians in the occupied territories, “moral considerations might suggest that the US pursue a more even-handed policy towards the two sides, and maybe even lean towards the Palestinians.”

As various conflicts in the Middle East threaten to intensify – a resurgent Taliban, emboldened Iran and Hamas, fractious Lebanon and chaotic Iraq – it is important to ask whether US foreign policy has been led astray as Walt and Mearsheimer suggest.

Their book methodically details the relationship between the US and Israel during the Cold War; the Jewish state was seen, especially after the quick victory of the Six Day War, as an invaluable ally to “help contain the Soviet bear”. After September 11, Israel and America were “partners against terror”, but the authors believe the “US has a terrorism problem in good part because it has long been so supportive of Israel”.

Their goal is not the dismantling of Israel or its international isolation, but a realisation that neither strategic nor moral considerations justify the US’s continued uncritical support.

Mearsheimer and Walt acknowledge the horror of the Holocaust but argue that “the past suffering of the Jewish people does not obligate the US to help Israel no matter what it does today”. Soon after the book was released in the US, Jewish journalist Ron Rosenbaum wrote in online magazine Slate that even talking about the existence of the Zionist lobby displayed a lack of “moral imagination” because a “second Holocaust’” against the Jews was imminent.

Rosenbaum displayed the archetypal Jewish victimisation at which Mearsheimer and Walt take aim. By debunking the numerous myths that have developed about the “virtuous” Israelis and the “evil’” Arabs, the authors present a convincing case that the established American Jewish leadership has used a canny combination of Holocaust guilt and financial and political pressure to convince the American political elite that the Jewish people are forever mired in Nazi Germany desperation.

A superpower with nuclear weapons, a thriving economy and unparalleled American support should be capable of sustaining criticism. Yet almost every politician, from all sides of the political divide, consistently try to outdo each other with greater expressions of affection towards Israel. Former US House of Representatives speaker Richard Armey said in September 2002 that “my No 1 priority in foreign policy is to protect Israel”. “One would think,” Walt and Mearsheimer write, “that the top priority for any US representative would be to protect America.”

Mearsheimer and Walt acknowledge the rising number of Jewish groups around the world, including one I co-founded, Independent Australian Jewish Voices, that can justifiably speak on behalf of some Jews and, like the Israel lobby, are equally deserving of being heard. The hardline Zionist position can no longer be claimed to represent the only Jewish perspective on Israel and Palestine.

The authors are on less solid ground when analysing the reasons behind the Iraq war. They minimise the profound failures of the mainstream media in not challenging the bogus claims of Saddam Hussein’s alleged weapons of mass destruction. They claim the invasion would not have happened without the pressure of the Israel lobby.

The pro-war faction believed that removing Saddam would improve America’s and Israel’s strategic position and launch a process of regional transformation that would benefit the US and Israel alike.

True, but this ignores the other key factors in the decision to invade Iraq, not least of which was hyper-militaristic posturing in a post-September 11 world.

Not everything can be blamed on the Israel lobby. To believe that some Americans’ loyalty to foreign interests is principally to blame for the Iraq debacle lets the Bush administration off too lightly. Interestingly, Noam Chomsky claimed that Mearsheimer and Walt’s original essay was flawed for this very reason. It was misguided, he wrote, and “leaves the US Government untouched on its high pinnacle of nobility … merely in the grip of an all-powerful force that it cannot escape”.

Mearsheimer and Walt also argue that the 2006 war between Israel and Hezbollah would not have been as devastating for both sides if the Israel lobby hadn’t “worked throughout the war to keep the US in Israel’s corner”. Although Israel undoubtedly relied on American political and diplomatic cover to continue its futile battle in Lebanon, the Bush administration agreed with its stated aims even without the push of the lobby.

The authors are hardly radical in calling for a two-state solution between the Israelis and Palestinians. They argue that although Washington should reaffirm “its commitment to Israel’s security within its pre-1967 borders, the US should make it clear that it is dead-set against Israel’s expansionist settlements policy, including the land-grabbing ‘security fence’, and that it believes this policy is not in America’s or Israel’s long-term interests”.

This places Mearsheimer and Walt firmly in the moderate camp. They believe in the concept of a Jewish state, but believe the Palestinians should be given a state of their own.

The transformative importance of Mearsheimer and Walt’s work has been its ability to challenge the myth of Jewish powerlessness. The Israel lobby is a powerful coalition of individuals and groups that forcefully advocate pro-Israel positions. They have every right to do so, but the community has an equal right to ask whom they claim to represent and whether such policies are isolating the Jewish state and harming US interests.

“There is nothing pro-Israel,” writes Jewish analyst M.J. Rosenberg, “about supporting policies that promise only that Israeli mothers will continue to dread their sons’ 18th birthdays for another generation.”

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