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.

No peace in Israel-Palestine

My following article in the Melbourne Age, co-written with Michael Shaik, the public advocate for Australians for Palestine, is about the realities on the ground in Palestine:

It is difficult to overstate the lost opportunity that last week’s Annapolis conference represents.

The Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, had agreed to all of Israel’s preconditions for negotiations by dissolving the Palestinian government of national unity, closing down more than 100 Hamas affiliated charities and sending Palestinian security forces into Nablus to liquidate the resistance cells that have held out against the Israeli army for the last seven years.

Having demonstrated his commitment to Israel’s security, he needed to secure a reciprocal commitment from Israel that he can present to his people as a vindication of his policies. The peace conference at Annapolis, he was at pains to emphasise, had to produce a clear statement of principles on the core issues of the conflict (Jerusalem, borders, water and refugees) within clearly defined timeframes.

Instead he was forced to settle for an empty statement that heralded “a new era of peace, based on freedom, security, justice, dignity, respect and mutual recognition” and declared that both sides intended to reach an agreement before the end of 2008.

As with every other peace conference of the last 15 years, the statement bears little relation to reality.

In 2005 ambassadors representing 25 European nations with missions in Jerusalem, Ramallah and Tel Aviv submitted a joint report that Israel is deliberately violating both its obligations under the Roadmap for Peace and international law by working to make a viable Palestinian state impossible.

Specifically, the report warned that the completion of Israel’s “Separation Barrier” and the new E1 settlement bloc in the centre of the West Bank would “complete the isolation of East Jerusalem – the political, commercial and infrastructural centre of Palestinian life”.

More ominously still, the ambassadors noted that the demolition of Palestinian houses in Jerusalem and its discriminatory policies concerning Palestinian residence in the city are “almost certainly” intended “to reduce the Palestinian population of Jerusalem, while exerting efforts to boost the number of Israelis living in the city.”

The former Israeli prime minister, Yitzhak Shamir, once boasted that his strategy for peace negotiations was to drag them out for ten years, by which time Israel’s annexation of the West Bank would have become an accomplished fact. Since his retirement, every Israeli-Palestinian “peace process” has taken place against a backdrop of Jewish settlement expansion.

Recently the Israeli NGO, Peace Now, reported that this year Israel has already built 762 settler housing units in the West Bank and had 602 under construction. On Tuesday the Israeli government announced its intention to expand the Har Homa settlement overlooking Bethlehem by 307 new homes.

Rather than confronting Israel over its colonisation of Palestinian land, the Bush administration has chosen to embrace Tony Blair’s program of promoting Palestinian economic development, while ignoring Israel’s deepening occupation.

The contradictions of such a policy are obvious. Factories throughout the Gaza Strip have been forced to close due to Israel’s five month blockade, giving rise to an unemployment rate of 50%. According to the Israeli NGO Physicians for Human Rights, hospitals in Gaza are being forced to operate without essential medicines, medical equipment, electricity and even such basics as toilet paper and cleaning materials.

This month the UN noted the emergence of a new generation of Palestinian refugees who had been separated from their lands by the “Separation Barrier” that Israel is building through the West Bank. Last week, the UN Relief and Works Agency warned that Israel’s tightening of movement restrictions throughout the Occupied Territories could lead to a threefold increase in the cost of providing food aid to Palestinians.

In their recently published book on the Israel Lobby, the American professors John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt hypothesise that pro-Israeli advocates have so thoroughly infiltrated the American body politic that the US government is no longer capable of recognising its national interests in the Middle East. On Friday Israeli diplomats demanded that the US withdraw a resolution to the UN Security Council endorsing the Annapolis summit on the grounds that the UN is insufficiently pro-Israeli to be involved in the peace process. The resolution was promptly withdrawn.

Since the invasion of Iraq, Israel’s advocates around the world have relentlessly lobbied for a “pre-emptive” attack on Iran to stifle the country’s alleged WMD program. Before such an attack could take place, America would wish to secure as much Arab support as possible by creating the impression of progress on a resolution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

This, regrettably, has become the primary function of the Israeli-Palestinian “peace process”.

Peace is the absence of violence. In the Middle East the term “peace process” has become a euphemism for normalising the violent dispossession of an occupied population.

This year the entire Arab world restated its offer to fully normalise relations with Israel in return for its withdrawal form the Occupied Territories. At a time when the West’s standing in the Middle East is already compromised by its refusal to recognise the outcome of last year’s Palestinian elections, the United States will gain nothing from fighting a war with Iran to uphold Israel’s regional monopoly on nuclear weapons.

Michael Shaik is the public advocate for Australians for Palestine. Antony Loewenstein is journalist and co-founder of Independent Australian Jewish Voices.

one comment ↪
  • Ron S

    Well of course Shaik and Lowenstein are right. Most Israelis and their governments have always believed that a strong Israel can best represent the interests of European and USA countries in the Middle East. In turn, the stronger Israel is, and the more Jewish it is, the better they can do that, have a real identity and improve their own lives.

    So, Palestinians are just a nuisance to those aims, and by making their lives in a Jewish State intolerable they will settle elsewhere and go back to being Arabs of some kind or another. Then Israel can deal with these Arab nations in the way it thinks fit.

    To those who say talk to Israelis I say, ask Israelis whether they actually want a Palestinian State next to their own. Ask them if they want to share their lands and resources on an equitable basis with people who have lived there for hundreds, even thousands of years. Ask them if they believe that Palestinians, and Arabs, living in Israel should have exactly the same rights as Jewish Israelis. Then tell me about this State and its ambitions.

    Having said all that, there is still the need for Palestinians to show they can handle the responsibility of their own State. If Fatah and Hamas cannot come to some kind of agreement to work together, if their desire for power and support for fundamental, and violent, Islamic religion groups cannot be replaced by cooperation, then Israel will continue to be able to do as they have for the last 60 years.