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.

A celebration that ignores the plight of Palestine

My following piece in the Melbourne Age, co-written with Michael Shaik, reflects on Israel’s 60th anniversary:

“If you will it,” wrote Theodore Herzl, the founding father of the Zionist movement, in 1902, “it is no dream.”

The dream to which he referred was the establishment of a Jewish state in the Arab country of Palestine.

To realise the dream, he insisted, the Jews must be willing to seize the reigns of history by renouncing the classical Jewish tradition of pacifism and collaborating with European anti-Semites who supported the Zionist movement as a means of ridding Europe of its “Jewish problem”.

Ultimately, the indigenous population of Palestine would have to be forced from the country.

In 1948 the dream was realised with the establishment of the state of Israel and the flight of the Palestinians from almost 80% of their homeland. Though some Zionist apologists have insisted that Israel did not practice a deliberate policy of ethnic cleansing, the displacement of the Palestinians was an indispensable part of the Zionist dream.

In a country that was overwhelmingly non-Jewish it would have been impossible to establish a Jewish state without the expulsion of its native population.

While the transformation of Palestine into a Jewish state was a sudden and violent event, however, Israel’s subsequent transformation into a Jewish-Palestinian entity has been a gradual and predictable process.

In 1967 Israel conquered the remainder of Palestine, comprising of the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip. Because of the speed of the victory, the Israeli army was unable to carry out a comprehensive program of ethnic cleansing but nevertheless began colonising its newly occupied territories with Jewish settlers.

In 1973 Ariel Sharon boasted that Israel would “make a pastrami sandwich” of the Palestinians by building strips of settlements throughout the West Bank. In 1983 the former head of Israeli military intelligence, Professor Yehoshafat Harkabi warned that Israel’s continued colonisation of the occupied territories would lead to the transformation of Israel into an Arab-Jewish state and the consequent “Belfastisation” of the area.

Today 450,000 settlers dominate 40% of the West Bank, while the ratio of Palestinians to Jews living between the Mediterranean and the Jordan River is nearing one to one.

Last year Israel’s Prime Minister Ehud Olmert warned that without a two-state solution the Palestinians would eventually opt for a South African-style struggle for equal voting rights and Israel would be finished as a Jewish state. His vision of a two-state solution, however, is unconvincing.

The Realignment Plan, which formed the platform upon which Olmert was elected, calls for the consolidation of Israel’s Jewish majority by the unilateral annexation of all of “Greater Jerusalem”, the Jordan Valley and all of the West Bank settlement blocs.

If this plan is realised the “state” remaining to the Palestinians will constitute a patchwork of reservations, surrounded by Jewish settlements, subdivided by “bypass roads” (which Palestinians are banned from using) and totally dependent on Israel for their electricity, water supply and access to the rest of the world.

Last time such an arrangement was tried was in 1980s South Africa, where the government endeavoured to conceal the ugly reality of apartheid by creating the fiction of “Bantustans” or “Black Homelands” for its black population, while maintaining total control over the country’s natural resources and road network.

Israel’s strategy for dealing with criticism of its colonisation of the occupied territories has been to keep the issue out of sight and off the agenda. The core issue, its advocates claim, is that Arafat/Hamas/the Palestinians refuse to renounce violence and recognise Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state.

Leaving aside the proposition that an occupied population must renounce violence while they are being violently dispossessed by an occupying power, the argument raises some interesting issues for a state that claims to be the only democracy in the Middle East.

According to the American Declaration of Independence, governments are instituted among men to secure the rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness and whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to abolish it.

This contradiction, however, is unlikely to intrude upon the festivities of those gathering in Jerusalem to celebrate Israel’s 60th birthday. In March Kevin Rudd invoked the memory of the Holocaust when he moved a motion in Parliament commending Israel for its “commitment to democracy, the Rule of Law and pluralism” and pledging Australia’s friendship, commitment and enduring support.

Following the creation of the state of Israel in 1948, the British historian Arnold Toynbee described the Western powers’ insistence that a non-Western people should be made to compensate European Jewry for a crime of which they were completely innocent as a “declaration of the inequality of the Western and non-Western sections of the human race”.

Sixty years later the Palestinians are still paying for the Nazis’ crimes.

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

  • i didn’t know that pastrami was kosher

  • MBH

    One of your best articles Antony. Keep up the outstanding work.