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 hardest word

My following essay appeared on February 19 in the Israeli publication, Haaretz:

Newly-elected Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd formally apologized last week to tens of thousands of Aboriginals known as the ‘stolen generation’, who as children were forcibly removed from their families by the government until as recently as the early 1970s.

The apology was welcomed by Australian Jews who have historically supported the country’s indigenous population. The Australian Jewish News endorsed the move which comes after 11 years of deliberations in Australia politics. “We are a people all too familiar with persecution and discrimination,” the AJN published in response to the apology. Rabbi Jeremy Lawrence of the Great Synagogue in Sydney called on Jews to “acknowledge the wrong, to apologise for the damage caused” to the Aboriginal community.

“We’ve suffered 2000 years of persecution, and we understand what it is to be the underdog and to suffer disadvantage,” said Mark Leibler, a prominent Melbourne Jew who co-chairs Aboriginal rights group Reconciliation Australia.

Rudd’s apology acknowledged the “profound grief, suffering and loss” inflicted on the Aboriginal people but no Jewish leaders seem capable of considering similar sentiments towards the Palestinians.

They blame somebody else for the fact that the number of settlers rose by five percent in the West Bank in 2007. They remain mute when Israel’s Interior Minister Meir Sheerit suggests destroying a Gaza neighbourhood. They look away when Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger urges Israel to move Gazans to the Sinai Peninsula.

New Republic editor Marty Peretz recently told Haaretz, “No occupation is kind or sweet. But bad things happen everywhere, all the time.” Israel was therefore only acting with the best intentions when it announced last week plans to build 1120 apartments for Jews in East Jerusalem, a Palestinian area.

Many Australian Jews resist recognising the suffering of the Palestinians. “Pounding the enemy only makes the enemy want to pound you back”, Forward editorialised in early February. The fact that Hamas has offered a long-term ceasefire to the Israelis is not mentioned. “Why doesn’t our government jump at this proposal?” asked Israeli peace activist Uri Avnery. “Simple: to make such a deal, we must speak to Hamas. It is more important to boycott Hamas than to put an end to the suffering of Sderot.”

The Zionist leadership in Australia and across the Diaspora prefers a state of war to a state of peace because they have not yet acquired the moral standing to take responsibility for Israeli actions. As Aboriginal leader Patrick Dodson said last week: “It takes courage to apologise. It takes courage to forgive.”It was a far cry from the Anti-Defamation League’s Abraham Foxman, who last year equivocated over using the term ‘genocide’ to describe the massacres perpetrated by the Ottoman Empire against the Armenians because he feared upsetting the Turks.

How much longer must we wait for the worldwide Jewish community to understand the dispossession and dislocation of 1948 and 1967? And when will the global Zionist leadership realise that Israeli policies in the occupied territories is leading to the country’s destruction? America will not forever provide the moral, financial and military blanket for the Jewish state’s behaviour. A recent survey by B’nai B’rith World Centre in Jerusalem found a majority of Israelis believed that Diaspora Jews had no right to publicly criticise the Israeli government. However, some Jews recognise that they have a special moral responsibility not to remain mute over Israeli crimes committed in their name and on which they may have some clear effect.

Such common sense suggestions are absent from the mainstream media debate. After the destruction of the wall between Gaza and Egypt, the Australian Jewish News meekly condoned Israel’s suffocation of the Strip, saying Israel had “no options but to keep Gaza sealed off”, shrugged its shoulders. Despite the stated Israeli aim of destroying support for Hamas in Gaza, the opposite has predicably happened, with recent polls indicating a rise in support for the Islamist organization.

Israel has become an object of uncritical adulation. The Rudd government is not likely to disappoint. It was a rare moment, after the death of Yasser Arafat in 2004, when Rudd expressed his condolences and stated that the PLO head was a “passionate, controversial leader of the Palestinian people. Whatever people thought of Arafat, there was wide consensus that he was a symbol for a secular Palestinian state.” Since then, however, Rudd has rarely expressed any sympathy for the Palestinian cause.

Rudd, who has visited Israel twice and said in 2004 that he was “passionately pro-Israel”, sadly believes that appealing to nearly 400,000 Australian Muslims, and becoming “passionately pro-Palestinian”, is political suicide. The Zionist lobby may not have the clout of their American brethren, but they still are significantly intimidating to their perceived enemies.

Rudd’s government will undoubtedly continue the historically bipartisan support for the Jewish state. John Howard was viewed by many of the country’s more than 100,000 Jews as the best friend Israel has ever had in the Australian parliament.

Like many Jewish communities around the world, a leader’s credentials on Israel are praised if they offer unconditional support. It is high time that the Jewish community offered true leadership and reflected on the moral significance of last week’s apology to the victims of our crimes. The Palestinians deserve nothing less.

Antony Loewenstein is a Sydney-based journalist, author of My Israel Question and co-founder of Independent Australian Jewish Voices.

one comment ↪
  • Glenn Condell

    Well said Antony. Yes, the Palestinians deserve an apology too, and so do the Iraqis. They are ideas whose time has not yet come, but one day…

    hope all's well.