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.

Some Iranian solidarity

Different groups representing Iran’s Jewish community on Tuesday gathered in front of the United Nations office in Teheran in order to protest “Israeli war crimes and the slaughter of the innocent people in Gaza Strip,” the Iranian IRNA news agency reported.

The protesters, led by the Jewish representative in Parliament, Siamak Mara-Sedq, carried placards with anti-Israel slogans in both Farsi and Hebrew, the report said.

“We are here to express our support and sympathy with the Palestinian nation,” Rahmatollah Rafi, the chairman of Iran’s Jewish community was quoted as saying at the rally.

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No crisis means there is a crisis

Clearly disgraced Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert likes his country’s handywork:

Gaza is not undergoing a humanitarian crisis. We’re constantly supplying it with food and medications, and there’s no need for a humanitarian cease-fire.

No crisis? Murdering civilians must make Zionists the world over so proud.

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Bloggers under fire

I was interviewed by Sarah Arnold in US magazine The Nation for an article published online on December 23:

According to a Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) report released December 4, of the 125 media workers in prison – a list that includes Ibrahim Jassam, a photographer held in US custody in Iraq – more of them published online than in any other medium.

The majority of online journalists behind bars come from China, the most high-profile of the many countries where Yahoo, Google and Microsoft have been accused of complicity with human rights violations. CPJ cites the Global Network Initiative as one effort to address this. Developed by these companies in cooperation with investors, academics and human rights organizations, the initiative details a set of principles aimed at protecting users’ freedom of expression and privacy. It’s difficult to tell whether the voluntary program will rein in the actions of the corporations.

“They’ve been named and shamed before, and their behavior has not really changed,” said Antony Loewenstein, author of The Blogging Revolution. Participants are asked to assess their impact in new markets and to maintain transparency, but they are not required to break local laws or pull out of offending countries.

Meanwhile, Loewenstein stressed his faith in the motives of, if not Yahoo, Google and Microsoft, then the human rights groups involved. “I’m skeptical only because I’ve seen these companies operating in China, and it’s really ugly,” he said. “I’m happy to be proven wrong.”

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Israel no victim

The following article, co-written with Peter Slezak, was published today on ABC Unleashed:

Vic Alhadeff is a senior Zionist organisation official. His Unleashed article provides an opportunity for analysis that is instructive about our media and intellectual culture. The very persuasiveness of Alhadeff’s case for Israel is the reason it deserves attention. It misrepresents the uncontroversial facts and the moral issues at stake.

Alhadeff rehearses official lies of the Israeli government that are, moreover, uncritically repeated by our politicians and “free press”.

Alhadeff portrays Israel as a victim of implacable, irrational foes who are bent on gratuitously “killing, maiming and terrorising as many civilians as possible”. At a time when Israel is committing unprecedented violence, such reversal of the facts requires contempt for an audience who is expected not to know better. Israel’s actions are comparable to their killing of stone-throwing children with rifles and tanks.

Israeli victim-hood is the premise on which the public relations machine relies to warrant their military actions. On this picture, a well-meaning, peace-loving Israel offers generous treaties and truces that are rejected by fanatical, fundamentalist terrorists in favour of murdering Jews. The story line is that, finally, Israel had no choice but to invade the terrorist infrastructure of Hamas.

This story can only convince an audience that does not know the facts and these are either falsified or left out altogether by Alhadeff.

First, the central factual claim on which the entire campaign rests concerns the relentless rocket fire against Israeli citizens that finally became intolerable and the justification for large-scale air-force strikes. As Israel’s own newspaper Haaretz reminds us: “Six months ago Israel asked and received a cease-fire from Hamas. It unilaterally violated it when it blew up a tunnel, while still asking Egypt to get the Islamic group to hold its fire.”

Haaretz reports Israeli ministry of defence sources who reveal that plans for the operation were made over six months ago, at the same time as Israel was beginning to negotiate the truce agreement with Hamas. Nevertheless, the media and politicians have consistently reported the official Israeli lies, re-writing history effectively as it happens.

However, even if the Palestinian violation of the cease-fire were true, it would not justify the current intense military assault on Gaza which is the most destructive since 1967. Israel has declared Gaza to be a “special military zone”, a classification that is one degree below a declaration of total war against an enemy state.

While the rocket fire is illegal under international law, it does not give Israel the right to respond against the population of Gaza since collective punishment is unequivocally prohibited by the Geneva conventions. This comes after the collective punishment of Israel’s devastating blockade for which it was condemned by the UN and human rights groups around the world. The blockade had already created a severe humanitarian crisis with shortages of bread, fuel, ink, paper, electricity, medications and hospital equipment among other elementary necessities of life.

A separate violation by Israel concerns the targeting of civilians. Since Hamas is a legitimate, democratically elected political party that controls the government, security-related institutions are civilian targets including police departments and uniformed officers. Other targets are incontestably civilian such as factories, mosques, a television broadcasting centre, university and other sites that have been demolished with loss of innocent life.

The excuse that Hamas is to blame for placing military sites among the population would not justify killing civilians even if it were true.

Another clear violation of international law is the grossly disproportionate scale of the military attack. Alhadeff’s rehearsing of official Israeli excuses for a massive military over-reaction to the supposed provocation is an attempt to excuse the inexcusable.

The rocket fire has claimed altogether a handful of Israeli lives despite Israel’s unprecedented military assault – clear evidence of how little threat Hamas rockets pose for Israel. To put Israel’s aggression into perspective, we must juxtapose the claims of urgency and “no choice” with the entire history of harm caused by home-made rockets: altogether around 20 fatalities in the past two years.

Alhadeff is certainly correct in noting that Hamas is listed as a “terrorist” organisation – but this just reflects the Orwellian terminology used by Western commentators to exclude Western crimes by definition, regardless of their scale. By any meaningful definition, Israel is responsible for large-scale terrorism, if the facts make any difference.

In 1982 during the first Lebanon war, Israel killed around 17,000 civilians – by far the largest act of terrorism in the Middle East, but conveniently forgotten by Alhadeff and media commentators. The 2006 Lebanon war cost around 1,000 lives and involved cluster bombs against civilians and other forms of terrorism including gross violations of international law.

Another revealing omission from Alhadeff’s version of history is the 40-year military occupation and its toll on Palestinian lives. However, perhaps most glaring is Alhadeff’s failure to even hint at the crushing blockade of Gaza. Contrary to the picture retailed by Alhadeff, Hamas showed remarkable restraint under the most desperate conditions and extreme provocation.

The exaggeration of the danger posed by home-made missiles leaves no doubt that the Israeli attack on Gaza was driven by political and not security motives. The posturing before forthcoming Israeli elections is widely cited as motivation for this military adventure.

The mainstream understanding of what goes on in the world is often the reverse of the truth. In light of the facts, it is regrettable that the Australian government has uncritically echoed Israeli-American talking points.

Contrary to standard perceptions, since its election in 2006 Hamas has consistently offered negotiation with Israel and expressed a willingness to accept a two-state solution based on 1967 borders. As Harvard Middle East expert, Sara Roy, has pointed out, Israel pretends that they have no partner for peace precisely because they know that the reality is quite the opposite.

Even the Australian Jewish News (AJN) recently expressed the need for friends of Israel to be critical of the Jewish state. This view was widely shared by around 500 signatories of a statement published by Independent Australian Jewish Voices (IAJV) in 2007 who urged a wider and more honest debate over Israel and Palestine.

Alhadeff’s article has interest as an example of apologetics in the service of power and state crimes. He does not contribute to the well-being and security of Israelis or Palestinians.

Israeli peace group Gush Shalom published a statement in Haaretz on December 30 calling for an immediate cease-fire, arguing that the war is “inhuman, superfluous” and that “nothing good for Israel will come out of it”. They further point out that the attack will deepen hatred for Israel, “arouse the whole civilized world against us” and “undermine even more the status of peace-seeking Palestinians”.

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Which side of history?

Zionist blogger Jeffrey Golberg writes:

It’s a strange world, but there you have it. I’ve been talking to friends of mine, former Palestinian Authority intelligence officials (ejected from power by the Hamas coup), and they tell me that not only are they rooting for the Israelis to decimate Hamas, but that Fatah has actually been assisting the Israelis with targeting information. One of my friends — if you want to know why they’re my friends, read this book — told me that one of his comrades was thrown off a high-rise building in Gaza City last year by Hamas, and so he sheds no tears for the Hamas dead. “Let the Israelis kill them,” he said. “They’ve brought only trouble for my people.”

If this is true, it shows Fatah to be even more impotent than we thought. Years of “negotiations” with Israel have achieved nothing. The occupation is deeper than ever.

Resistance, therefore, is what Hamas can show (though hardly an unblemished record when it comes to human rights.)

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One who shall be remembered

Finally, one prominent American politician raises his voice against Israel’s barbarity (and refuses to succumb to the Zionist lobby):

Cleveland congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) is now calling for a United Nations investigation to attacks on Gaza by Israel. Kucinich also criticized Israel for what he deems a disproportionate response to Hamas rocket attacks, standing in stark contrast to other House Democrats that have offered nearly unanimous support for Israel.

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Israel needs a life coach

The current war against Hamas will only strengthen the organisation:

In its efforts to stop amateur rockets from nagging the residents of some of its southern cities, Israel appears to have given new life to the fledging Islamic movement in Palestine.

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The moral code is clear

Israel’s bombardment of Gaza “bears all the hallmarks of war crimes“, Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu said in a statement on Sunday.

“In the context of total aerial supremacy, in which one side in a conflict deploys lethal aircraft against opponents with no means of defending themselves, the bombardment bears all the hallmarks of war crimes.”

The attacks, in retaliation for rockets fired by the Palestinians, would not contribute to the security of Israel, he said.

“It is a blight not only on the Middle East, but on the entire world – and particularly world leaders who have consistently failed the people of Palestine and Israel over the past 60 years.”

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Gaza round-up

Some of the finest reading on the web about the Gaza outrage (from a variety of perspectives):

Palestinians need Israel to win.

An American rabbi condemns the Israeli attacks.

Robert Fisk: Why bombing Ashkelon is the most tragic irony.

Hamas is hoping for an IDF ground operation in Gaza.

Pro-Palestinian activists say Israel Navy fired on protest boat off Gaza shore.

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The Jew and the Palestinian

Yossi Alpher:

At the end of the day, however, the operation confirms the contention I have voiced in these virtual pages repeatedly over recent weeks and months: neither Israel nor anyone else has a long-term workable strategy for dealing with Hamas in Gaza. This is a militant terrorist organization that has taken over a piece of Palestinian territory but refuses to behave like a sovereign power and, ultimately, glories in the victimhood or martyrdom of its people. Terms like victory, defeat and peace negotiations are irrelevant here. At its best, operation “Cast Lead” (the Hebrew term relates to the current Hanukah holiday, besides sounding appropriate in military terms) will deliver a few more months of ceasefire and tenuous coexistence between Islamist Gaza and its surroundings. Indeed, the operation apparently doesn’t aspire to achieve more than that.

Ghassan Khatib:

In spite of the heavy material and human losses, the Israeli attack on Gaza is strengthening Hamas politically and increasing public support and sympathy for the movement. Hamas is using this momentum to achieve an end to the closure of Gaza, not by Israel opening the crossings it controls but by Egypt opening Rafah. The irony here is that if Rafah is opened on Hamas’ terms, it will also secure a significant Israeli strategic objective, namely handing over effective responsibility for Gaza to Egypt.

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Watch them fall every year

Israel is the victim in the current crisis, didn’t you know?

Yes, one of the strongest military powers in the world wants everybody to believe it’s scared of a few home-made rockets.

The real victims are the children in Gaza.

Thankfully, global public support for the Jewish state is diminishing and its supporters know it.

We should do all we can to help this trend.

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A bigot in their heart

Moshe Feiglin, a racist, rightist Israeli who represents the future of the Jewish state? From a recent Haaretz profile:

Feiglin dreams of a state guided by his perception of what the Jewish spirit means: a state that would remove all the muslim shrines from the Temple Mount, a state whose non-Jewish inhabitants would be entitled to become residents and to run their own municipal affairs, but not to determine the country’s fate. A state where the courts are not subject to the relativist values of the West, but to the absolute values that clearly distinguish between the good and the bad, where one is not punished for killing a terrorist who is tied up. A state that understands that we are not engaged in a “low-intensity conflict,” but rather in a world war that pits Jewish civilization against Muslim civilization, a war that must be waged by any and all means to defeat the enemy and ensure the triumph of the Jewish idea.

Imagine if an Israeli Arab dared imagine a future Israel where Jews could not determine their own fate.

When a Jew says this, however, the world turns a blind eye.

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