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 need to respect the other

The Saudi Arabian based Arab News – not always known for its nuanced understanding of the Middle East – gets it right in a recent editorial:

The five Palestinians convicted Monday of channeling $12 million to Hamas via the Texas-based Holy Land Foundation are indeed guilty under US law. The reason is that since 1995 the US has designated Hamas a terrorist organization.

But this does not mean the law is right. Significantly, US prosecutors did not seek to prove the money raised by the men was used to finance terrorism, merely that the humanitarian aid, which they accepted that it did indeed fund, was used to promote Hamas and allowed it to divert other funds to militant activities.

The five now face jail sentences ranging up to 55 years. Yet a jury last year failed to reach a verdict in this case, almost certainly because some members could not accept that raising humanitarian aid for the Israeli-besieged Gaza ghetto was really a crime. The Bush White House was not, however, having any of that. The Justice Department declared a mistrial and sent the case to trial again. In the wake of this week’s verdict, a senior US law officer hailed the finding as an important milestone in American action against “financiers of terrorism.”

In an altogether more measured response, defense lawyers, saying they would appeal, added that while they respected the jury’s finding, they believed the verdict was unjust and un-American. “The criminalization of legitimate charitable giving is not an attack just on the American Muslim community; it is an attack on every American who believes in the moral duty to feed the hungry, clothe the poor and heal the sick.”

This verdict once again demonstrates America’s inability to understand any perspective but its own. Hamas grew from links with the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood at a time when the PLO leadership was in exile in Tunis and the Fatah administration in the occupied territories had become a byword for corruption and passivity. Unlike Islamic Jihad, whose aim was nothing but militancy, Hamas began as a humanitarian organization, operating schools, hospitals and welfare programs. The Israelis thought it would become a useful counter to the sway of the PLO. Yet keeping people alive, healthy and educated during the Israeli occupation was in itself a form of resistance. Militant resistance came later and so too did a political presence. The US administration insists on ignoring that in January 2006, Hamas won a majority of seats in the Palestinian Parliament in the sort of free and fair democratic elections that Bush said he wanted for all the Middle East.

Blinkered by the 1995 proscription of Hamas, Americans cannot see it as a legitimate organization and internationally, not just in the Muslim world, Hamas is recognized as such. In its politics, its charity and to some outsiders, its dogged militant resistance to superior Israeli forces, Hamas presents itself not as part of the problem, but as a part of the solution. The Holy Land Foundation prosecutions, however technically correct, represent a dying US administration’s continued conflict with reality. By denying the facts and insisting on his own ill-informed worldview, Bush never had a chance of contributing to a Palestinian settlement.

one comment ↪
  • frank

    The slanted title of this reactionary blog goes in both directions.

    The Fredericton Palestine Solidarity Committee, in a recent letter to this paper, chastised the N.B. Human Rights Commission for choosing the Asper Foundation's Holocaust and Human Rights Studies program as worthy of the N.B. Pioneers of Human Rights award.

    Enlarge Photo APThe news of the day: A newspaper reader at a coffee shop in Jerusalem reads an ad by the Palestinian Authority published in an Israeli newspaper Nov. 20. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has taken his case for a peace deal directly to ordinary Israelis, assuring them in Hebrew-language newspaper ads that a withdrawal from the West Bank, Gaza Strip and parts of Jerusalem would bring them full recognition by the Arab world. The ad says 57 Arab and Muslim countries would establish diplomatic ties with Israel in exchange for a withdrawal from the lands that would make up a Palestinian state. This was done because the Asper family believes, as do I, that Israel has a right to exist where it is and how it is.

    I also support the contention that, until the anti-Zionists and anti-Semites stop their attacks against the sovereign state of Israel and the Jewish people around the world, and until they cease their murderous rhetoric and stop applauding and celebrating the deaths of Jewish children, Israel must and will do what it has to do to survive.

    I was one of the authors of support for this award being given the Asper Foundation. Through the Holocaust and Human Rights Program, Woodstock High School has brought students to visit the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum every year since 2005.

    That visit and the study program that precedes it and the volunteer hours in the community that are an essential component of the program have affected every child who dared to look into the darkness and be witness to the evil that men do.

    Both of my daughters participated and I am proud to be part of that program. I have also visited the death camps of Poland and walked through the fields where the ashes of many of the 1.5 million Jewish children murdered in the Holocaust were buried.

    The Fredericton Palestine Committee cites statistics from the Palestine Liberation Organization to support its position of hostility toward Israel. It is intellectually dishonest to present casualty figures and not mention that Israel is defending itself from attacks by terrorists who want to destroy the country and intentionally target civilians.

    The PLO, once sworn to the annihilation of Israel, is hardly a bastion of factual and objective data gathering.

    Anti-Zionism is the new anti-Semitism sifted through and disguised by the rhetoric of international politics and absent the politics of compassion. To be an anti-Zionist is to be anti-Jewish and opposed to the existence of the state of Israel. That is clear.

    It's a given that the deaths of innocent civilians are tragic. I too mourn the deaths and plight of Palestinian caught up in the hostilities.

    The Fredericton Palestine Solidarity Committee's website, however, ignores completely the unprovoked deaths of thousands of Israeli civilians over the years since the creation of the state of Israel in 1948.

    They choose not to mention and condemn Palestinian terrorists and their supporters who murder, then celebrate the deaths of Israeli grandmothers.

    The Palestinian leaders, like the Fredericton committee, rarely publicly condemn and denounce the murderers of Jewish children. The committee's website is devoid of anything that suggests that Israel and the Jews might be victims. They choose to ignore the fact that Palestinian terrorists intentionally hide amongst their own people in order to maximize civilian casualties.

    They choose to ignore the disturbing phenomenon of government officials, religious leaders and the media in several Arab countries promoting the lies, even in elementary schools, of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion and Holocaust denial.

    Israel has a legal and moral right to exist and prosper, and Israel has a right to protect its children against an enemy committed to its destruction.

    It is that simple.

    Richard Blaquiere lives in Woodstock. Send comments to letters@dailygleaner.com.