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.

Obama: new neo-con?

My latest New Matilda column is about the incoming Obama administration and its likely foreign policy:

Will Obama resist Zionist pressure and reveal his progressive side on Israel? Writing from the US, Antony Loewenstein isn’t optimistic

I’m currently in the US on a book tour and I’ve been struck by the ubiquitous belief that Obama will soon reveal his progressive side. He’s yet to assume office but that he’ll be a conservative Democrat on foreign policy is denied by realists and dreamers alike.

A few nights ago at the New York Public Library I attended a fascinating discussion between former Speaker of the Israeli Knesset Avraham Burg and historian Omer Bartov. Burg says that Israel must get past its Holocaust mentality in order to achieve a lasting peace in the region. He fears that this is unlikely to be achieved on current trends. A longer report on the evening by my friend, blogger and writer Phil Weiss, is here.

Burg’s new book, The Holocaust is Over, We Must Rise From its Ashes, expands these arguments thoroughly. The debate was both necessary and illuminating, not least because it revealed the paucity of thinking in the Zionist establishment.

Burg, a religious Jew who has spent most of his adult life immersed in the Zionist movement, now wants an honest appraisal of the damage this ideology has wreaked on his country and the Palestinians. “We’re so traumatised by the memories [of the Holocaust]”, he said, “and maybe we’ll never get over it. Maybe a nation can’t get past it.”

“We monopolise suffering,” he continued. “Holocausts only happen to us. We must be more generous to others. The Holocaust must be removed from nearly daily use and manipulation in Israeli society.”

Burg and Bartov talked excessively about “utopian” ideas for Israel and barely mentioned the Palestinians. It was a glaring omission – although when asked, Burg said he believed the window for a two-state solution had virtually shut, leaving a need to seriously discuss alternatives – and reflected the trauma the conflict has inflicted on all players. Burg painted an Israeli society afraid to debate ideas, fearful of taking risks, with the Arabs and the Messianic Jews in the West Bank and Israel proper threatening the very existence (and establishment) of a truly secular nation. “As soon as the Arabs declare peace with us,” lamented Burg, “Israel will have a profound clash internally between the theocrats and democrats.”

Afterwards at dinner, with The Israel Lobby co-author John Mearsheimer, historian Norman Finkelstein, blogger Phil Weiss and others, the argument was put forward that because younger American Jews are increasingly embarrassed by Israel’s occupation policies — studies bear this out, and indicate less ethnic identification (because of intermarriage and other factors) with the concept of a Jewish nation — support for Israel is declining, forcing more moderates to the fore. I’m far from convinced. Older hardliners still hold the balance of power — and were just promoted into Obama’s cabinet. Although the stranglehold of the Zionist old guard is clearly crumbling — witness the growing global public recognition of Palestinian suffering — the situation on the ground remains dire.

The Zionist lobby is still immensely powerful in Washington. Many younger Jews simply refuse to get involved in any organisations, frustrated with the myopic mindset. The West Bank occupation deepens every day. The UN even reported this week that Israel has refused to allow spices, kitchenware, glassware, yarn and paper into the Gaza Strip. None of these facts seem to disturb the Jewish leadership in America; they merely encourage Israel to tighten its noose around the territories.

Obama has major challenges to even address any of these issues yet seems determined, at this early stage, to ignore the more uncomfortable facts in front of him. With the appointment by of a hawkish national security team, including hardline Zionist Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, it’s become clear that no strong anti-war voices will have the ear of the new leader. Neo-conservatism is not dead as a movement; it has merely changed its political stripes. A military strike against Iran, as just one example, remains firmly on the table. Wishful thinking will not change this brutal reality.

The Nation’s Jeremy Scahill doused optimistic expectations in The Guardian:

“Obama’s starry-eyed defenders have tried to downplay the importance of his cabinet selections, saying Obama will call the shots, but the ruling elite in this country see it for what it is. Karl Rove, ‘Bush’s Brain’, called Obama’s cabinet selections, ‘reassuring’, which itself is disconcerting, but neoconservative leader and former McCain campaign staffer Max Boot summed it up best. ‘I am gobsmacked by these appointments, most of which could just as easily have come from a President McCain,’ Boot wrote.”

Israelis are reportedly pleased that Obama’s choices are unlikely to press the Jewish state for any major concessions while the Palestinians are understandably concerned.

“I was frankly surprised by this choice,” Manar Shorbagy, an expert on American foreign policy who teaches at the American University in Cairo, said. “Obama’s talking about bringing diplomacy back to a US foreign policy that has been militarised under President Bush. Senator Clinton has different ideas. She voted for the Iraq war and has supported many things Bush has done in his two terms.”

Maintenance of the status-quo — Israel’s settlement project expands, apartheid in the West Bank worsens and Gazans are continually strangled under collective punishment — remains the likely future. Without a serious international push towards resolution, Israel will forever increase its colonial project, making a two-state solution an utter impossibility. Ironically, the mainstream Jewish Diaspora leadership remains mute about this possibility. Inherently, they support a one-state answer, where, in a few years time, Arabs will outnumber Jews. What will they say then?

While it’s encouraging that a growing number of leading pundits are speaking publicly against Israel’s race to enforce its territorial gains, Israel suffers no real tangible price for flouting UN resolutions and breaking international law. The Holocaust is the eternal moral shroud with which the Jewish state protects itself.

What is desperately needed, as articulated by conservative International Herald Tribune columnist Roger Cohen this week, is the following:

“Imagine Ehud Olmert, the outgoing Israeli prime minister, saying this to Barack Obama:

‘The United States has been wrong to write Israel a blank check every year; wrong to turn a blind eye to the settlements in the West Bank; wrong not to be more explicit about the need to divide Jerusalem; wrong to equip us with weaponry so sophisticated we now believe military might is the answer to all our problems; and wrong in not helping us reach out to Syria. Your prospective secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, said during the campaign that ‘The United States stands with Israel, now and forever.’ Well, that’s not good enough. You need to stand against us sometimes so we can avoid the curse of eternal militarism.”

If only more politicians across the Western world could see that their “pro-Israel” stance is killing the state they love.

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