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.

Vote 1: militant Zionism

My latest New Matilda column is about the political realities in Israel and Palestine:

Antony Loewenstein looks behind the pre-election rhetoric in Israel and says the lack of a real difference between the front-runners means deeper trouble ahead for both Israel and Palestine

Israel is currently in political limbo. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s leadership of the Jewish state is nearly over due to his refusal to nominate for the upcoming Kadima primaries and rivals are positioning themselves for the poisoned chalice. Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, Deputy Prime Minister Shaul Mofaz, former Prime Minister and Defence Minister Ehud Barak and former leader Benyamin Netanyahu are all possible candidates.

None of them talks about ending the illegal occupation of Palestinian territory.

Gideon Levy, writing in Haaretz, puts his finger on what is missing from so much of the Western commentary chronically more interested in the personalities than the policies. Levy says the unwillingness of any of the candidates to make any real move towards a peace means there is really no choice for Israel’s voters, but constant demonisation of Netanyahu falsely implies that the others are moderates:

“That is the choice. That is the arsenal of candidates seeking to succeed Olmert. None speak in the name of any ideology whatsoever. A past prime minister who failed at his post and brought about the second intifada (Barak); a former chief of staff and defence minister, a cruel military man, who fanned the flames and knows only how to sow destruction and death (Mofaz); a mild-mannered foreign minister who has not advanced peace in any way (Livni); and Netanyahu – the person everyone loves to hate [ – no worse] than his fellow candidates, but immeasurably more persecuted. The media embraces Livni, accepts Mofaz as legitimate, sometimes supports Barak, but is terrified only by Netanyahu. Why?”

Meanwhile, settler violence towards Palestinians is on the increase in the West Bank, the IDF rarely intervenes and the world Jewish Diaspora remains relatively silent.

Veteran Israeli historian Zeev Sternhell, in a powerful recent essay in Haaretz, articulates what is at stake in the current political charade playing out in the Jewish state. He virtually pleads for the world to wake up and pay attention to what Israel has constructed in the occupied territories and pressure them to stop immediately. Despite his fears that the colonial enterprise will end the dream of a “democratic Jewish state” (arguably already an impossibility when one racial group discriminates against another) his words are powerful:

“…What was essential and therefore justified in the pre-state days is now assuming an ugly and violent form of colonial occupation: the authoritarian regime in the territories, the creation of two legal systems, the placing of the army and police at the service of the settlement movement, the robbing of Palestinian lands. These all symbolize not the fulfilment of Zionism but rather its burial. It is there, between Hebron and Yitzhar, that the settlements are burying the democratic Jewish state.

“…If society does not find the emotional strength to remove the noose of the settlements, nothing but a sad memory will remain of the Jewish state as it still exists.”

Alas, nobody is talking about seriously changing the power dynamic in the Middle East – and most in the region don’t expect a President Barack Obama to shift his country’s bias away from Israel’s occupation – or even attempt to halt the continued growth of settlements. Colonisation is now an essential part of Israel, and will destroy it, in my opinion.

Senior Palestinian negotiator Ahmed Qureia said on Sunday that the Palestinians may soon demand a bi-national state if Israel continues to reject proposed borders. The days of the Jewish state are numbered.

A recent Australian commentator argued that Prime Minister Kevin Rudd was subtly re-defining the country’s relationship with Israel to be more “even-handed” in the Middle East. However, actions speak louder than words, and maintaining an outright ban on dealing with Hamas and remaining virtually silent over Israel’s settlement project suggests a business-as-usual mentality.

One issue that has received rudimentary coverage in the Western media is the ongoing civil strife in Gaza and the West Bank. Although there has been some detail on the clan rivalries involved, there has been little discussion about the outside forces that are contributing to the instability. The elevation of Hamas in June 2007 to control of Gaza undoubtedly shifted the power dynamic in the Strip, and many established families quickly discovered the limits to their influence, but what of the US-backed Fatah forces that desperately crave dominance over Hamas?

The role of Washington has been virtually ignored in the current impasse, even after this detailed Vanity Fair essay in April that proved the Bush administration was involved in the instability, having attempted a failed coup in 2007 against Hamas by supporting Fatah forces and triggering a civil war between the rival groups. The aim was to install Fatah and wrestle power from the democratically-elected Hamas.

As recently as March, the Washington Post was reporting that these US-backed forces, being trained in Jordan, are “mired in delays, a shortage of resources, and differences between Israelis and the Americans over what military capabilities those forces should have once deployed in the territories.”

In other words, Fatah, under President Mahmoud Abbas, was willingly collaborating with Washington to provide military forces to essentially manage the occupation and suppress an opposing political party. The result, as we’ve seen over the last weeks, is a resurgent Hamas and brutal tactics from both sides (something rightly chastised by Human Rights Watch in a recent report).

But here’s the catch. Although much of the West stands by and cheers from the sidelines, pleased that the Palestinians are fighting amongst themselves, this thinking is seriously deluded. As pointed out by Daniel Levy – a former liberal Israeli peace negotiator whose blog is essential reading – Israel’s ceasefire with Hamas is threatened by the ongoing violence (something many Israeli politicians welcome, such is their desire to re-invade Gaza and attempt to destroy the Islamist group root and branch):

“…Perhaps most worrying of all is that as Palestinians lose hope in the peace process, and look despairingly at both the Fatah and Hamas leaderships, there is a danger of extremist Al Qaeda-style alternatives emerging. Such activity may already be taking place today, as politics breaks down into clan structures and groups like the Army of Islam appear. Hamas is not Al Qaeda, but the alternative to it might be.”

Palestinian lawlessness in Gaza and Israeli settler chaos in the West Bank is a toxic mix, and the Jewish state is fanning the former and ignoring the latter. The Palestinians are not blameless in this process, of course, with many rival groups positioning themselves for the spoils of (limited) power. But it’s vital to never forget the fact that Gaza remains an occupied prison, surrounded by Israel on all sides (something to be highlighted by the “Free Gaza” boat campaign this week).

More worrying still, the voices within Israel that shun any peace initiatives with the Palestinians are growing. Witness writer and playwright Naomi Ragen, soon to visit Australia, who told the Fairfax press last weekend that she opposed withdrawal from any occupied territory and supported killing all “terrorists”. Ragen, who slammed me as a “liar” and a “typical self-hating, ignorant Jew”, is symptomatic of modern, perverted Zionism. To them the Arabs are unpeople.

Jewish American professor Marc Ellis told the ABC in 2001 that contemporary Judaism was being increasingly defined through the barrel of the gun. “If we want helicopter gunships to define us as a people, say it”, he said, “but don’t pretend that helicopter gunships are not defining us.”

The Israel/Palestine conflict will never be resolved without a serious re-configuring of the Jewish mentality. Militant Zionism has become the default position.

We are barely past the starting line.

  • moshe

    1. " None of them talks about ending the illegal occupation of Palestinian territory."

    2. " the settlements are burying the democratic Jewish state."

    3. " Colonisation is now an essential part of Israel, and will destroy it, in my opinion."

    4. " Senior Palestinian negotiator Ahmed Qureia said on Sunday that the Palestinians may soon demand a bi-national state if Israel continues to reject proposed borders. The days of the Jewish state are numbered."

    5. " But it’s vital to never forget the fact that Gaza remains an occupied prison, surrounded by Israel on all sides"

    6. " is symptomatic of modern, perverted Zionism. To them the Arabs are unpeople."

    This butt head article contains so many fundamental errors that it requires refutation. First and foremost, its not Israel's business if the so called Palestinians suffer from political chaos. That's their internal affairs – not ours. Butt heads continually make this error. Hamas does not recognize the Jewish Right to self determination ie Zionism. Hence the Oslo peace process does not apply to them – end of story. It's really irrelavent if they recieved a "democratic majority". Zionism seeks peace with our Arab neighbors, but Peace means that the Arab states must renounce their opposition to the League of Nations 1922 Palestinian Mandate and the United Nation 1948 vote which formally recognized the Jewish right to self determination. All Israeli/Arab wars have centered upon this key point. A point that the butt head outsiders fail to even consider!

    1. The defeated Arab states and their butt head supporters call the Administered territories "occupied". Its a fundamental point of dispute. That butt heads ass u me the Arabist opinion, in no way validates nor weakens Zionist diplomacy to the contrary.

    2. Zionism is not primarily concerned about "democracy". That's a fundamental error, that the butt heads fail to grasp. The early Zionist leaders were socialists not democrats. Whether the Jewish State supports Jewish settlement of the "Administered" territories or opposes this strategic idea of "greater Israel" has nothing to do with demacracy. Governments, all governments traditionally work to maintain the status quo. Butt heads can scream cry and yell but their opposition is not going to change how governments fundamentally operate.

    3. The EU favors the Arabist line. Jews don't own to many oil wells and the EU needs Arab oil. Would a Greater Israel destroy the Jewish State? That's a very valid question! But when butt heads attempt to simplify a very complex issue unto a simplified debate, this idiocy only confuses the Jewish people who count, the citizens of the Jewish State. The outsiders, granted their Jewish, but they live in galut and their choice has its consequences. The consequence being that outsiders do not have a say in determining the policy of Zionist strategic thinking. Its very important that Israeli citizens listen to our peoples who live in galut. But when galut Jews start to preach and hiss that's where they cross the line.

    4. The 2 state solution, that's the foundation of statecraft that existed prior unto the establishment of the Jewish state, the Peel commission serves as a fundamental example. Its most unrealistic that Israel which accepted this foundation shall agree in the future to change it. Such an unstable proposition as a bi-nation state negates the fundamental principal of Jewish self determination. Arabs have traditionally rejected this fundamental aspect of Zionism. If the PA reverse its course and rejects this key point of Oslo, then the "administered" territories revert back unto their pre-Oslo days. Honestly this makes no sense, because it effectively destroys the PA.

    5. Egypt shares a border with Gaza. The butt heads don't know their geography. Their facts are no facts.

    6. Zionism does not and never has sought to negate nor denie that Arabs are both peoples and nations. The Palestinians, that's another matter all together different. The Ottoman Turks, a non Arab empire ruled the Middle East from the 1640s to the end of the 1st World War! Arabs living under their rule were not and never were refered to as Palestinians! Prior to 1948 Jews living within the 1922 League of Nations Palestinian Mandate the world referred to them as Palestinians. Today's Jerusalem Post, just for example, prior unto the declaration of the Jewish state went by the name Palestinian Post. Again butt head facts are no facts.

  • William Burns

    Whatever else you can say about Zionist apologists like Moshe, they have certainly overcome the stereotype that Jews are smart.

  • moshe

    William Burns leaves a brilliant statement. Why the profound depth of his genius, it takes your breath away. Thank you for shining such a great light upon these murky matters