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.

Foreign Correspondents’ Association

Prominent Australian journalist and writer Antony Loewenstein was Guest Speaker at an FCA Newsmaker Luncheon in Sydney on Thursday 26 March 2009. Antony’s address focused on the ways in which most of the Western media gloss over the realities of the Israel/Palestine conflict, not least the Israeli occupation, and related topics.

This was a wonderful day. Speaking to any number of journalists from a host of countries, including Germany, Japan and Britain, reinforced my belief that too many reporters are fearful of honestly tackling the Middle East question. Scared of being accused of anti-Semitism. Scared of accurately discussing the brutal occupation. Obsessed with “balance” in the face of Zionist lobby pressure. Sympathetic to the Palestinians but unsure how to show it. Only by talking and understanding an alternative Jewish perspective will more journalists feel greater confidence to deal with the inevitable criticism for daring to write the truth.

This is what the majority of journalists told me both before and after my speech.

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An unhelpful discourse on Israel

The following article is written by Israeli/American peace activist Jeff Halper for the Australian Jewish News but the paper refuses to run the piece, despite spending weeks attacking Halper and his supporters in its pages:

The uproar in the organized Jewish community over the prospect of my speaking in Australia is truly startling to an Israeli like me. Granted, I am very critical of Israel’s policies of Occupation and doubt whether a two-state solution is still possible given the extent of Israel’s settlements, but this hardly warrants the kind of demonization I received in the pages of The AJN. Opinions similar to mine are readily available in the mainstream Israeli media. Indeed, I myself write frequently for the Israeli press and appear regularly on Israeli TV and radio.

Why, then, the hysteria? Why was I banned from Temple Emmanuel in Sydney, a self-proclaimed progressive synagogue? Why did I, an Israeli, have to address the Jewish community from a church? Why was I invited to speak in every university in eastern Australia yet, at Monash University, I was forced to hold a secret meeting with Jewish faculty in a darkened room far from the halls of intellectual discourse? Why, when the “leaders” of the Jewish community were excoriating me and my positions, did the Israelis who attended my talks express such appreciation that “real” Israeli views were finally getting aired in Australia, even if they did not all agree with me? Given the support my right to speak evidenced by most of the letters published in The AJN, this all raises disturbing questions over the right of Australian Jews to hear divergent views on Israel’s conflict with the Palestinians held by Israelis themselves.

It raises an even deeper issue, however. What should be the relationship of Diaspora Jewry to Israel? Whatever threat I represented to the organized Jewish community of Australia had less to do with Israel, I suspect, than with some damage I might to do to the idealized “Leon Uris” image of Israel which you hold onto so dearly. This might seem like a strange thing to say, but I do not believe that you in the Diaspora have internalized the fact that Israel is a foreign country as far from your idealized version as Australia is far from its image as kangaroo-land. Countries change, they evolve. What would Australia’s European founders think – even those who until very recently pursued a “White Australia” policy – if they were to see the multi-cultural country you have become? Well, almost 30% of Israeli citizens are not Jews, we may very well have permanently incorporated another four million Palestinians – the residents of the Occupied Territories – into our country and, to top it off, it’s clear by now that the vast majority of the world’s Jews are not going to emigrate to Israel. Those facts, plus the urgent need of Israel to make peace with its neighbors, mean something. They mean that Israel must change in ways Ben Gurion, Leon Uris and Mark Leibler never envisioned, even if that’s hard for you to accept.

Yet I see this as a positive thing, a sign of a healthy country coming to grips with reality, some of it of its own creation, even if it means that Israel will evolve from a Jewish state into a state of all its citizens – a bi-national or democratic state. Rather than “eliminating” Israel, this challenge is in fact a natural and probably inevitable development. It will not be easy, but if you can become multi-cultural, so can we.

But that’s our problem as Israelis. What’s your problem? Why should discussing such important issues for Israel be the cause of such distress for you? Because, I venture to say, you have a stake in preserving Israel’s idealized image that trumps dealing with the real country. In my view, Israel is being used as the lynchpin of your ethnic identity in Australia; mobilizing around a beleaguered Israel is essential for keeping your kids Jewish. I would go so far as to accuse you of needing an Israel in conflict, which is why you seem so threatened by an Israel at peace, why you deny that peace is even possible, why a peaceful Israel that is neither threatened nor “Jewish” cannot fulfill the role you have cast for it, and thus why you characterize my message as “vile lies.”

This, to be honest, is the threat I represent. Only this can explain why rabbis, community “leaders” and Jewish professors choose to meet me secretly rather than have me, a critical Israel, in their synagogues or classrooms. This is all understandable. You do need a lynchpin if you are to preserve your identity as a prosperous community in a tolerant multi-cultural society. I would just question whether the real country of Israel can fulfill that role, or even if it’s fair to Israel to expect it to.

We are different peoples. Israel can no more define Diaspora Jewish life than you can define Israel. Rather than knee-jerk defense of an imaginary place, you need to develop a respect for Israel and Israeli voices, a respect that will come only when you start regarding Israel as a real country. And you have to get a life of your own. You have to develop alternative Diaspora Jewish cultures and identities. Ironically, after all I have said, the Israeli government will resist that, for it uses you as agents to support its policies, often extreme right-wing and militaristic policies that contradict your very values of cultural pluralism and human rights. Remember: Israel does what it does in your name. Unless you take an independent position, you are complicit.

What befell me in Australia is just a tiny piece of a sad story of mutual exploitation: you using Israel to keep your community together, Israel using you to defend its indefensible policies. Perhaps something good can emerge from all this: robust discussion on the nature of Israeli-Diaspora relations. I’m going home to Jerusalem. You have to let Israel go and get a [Jewish] life.

Jeff Halper is the Director of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, a peace and human rights organization dedicated to achieving a just peace between Israelis and Palestinians. He can be reached at <jeff@icahd.org>

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Time is running out for Israel to adapt

My latest column for New Matilda is about the realities facing the incoming Israeli government:

The ground is slowly shifting in international attitudes towards Israeli policies. But the longer Israel delays changing direction, the fewer options it will have, writes Antony Loewenstein

As the new Israeli Government under Benyamin Netanyahu begins its tenure, a small report in the Israeli daily Ha’aretz this week highlighted the reality of the situation in Palestine:

“Construction activity on West Bank settlements has increased in the transition period between the February general election and the formation of the new government, Ha’aretz has learned.

“One notable example is the extensive earthworks being carried out in preparation for the construction of a road to connect the settlement of Eli, north of Ramallah, with the Hayovel outpost Yuval, just south of the Arab city.

“The earthworks are being carried out on private land owned by residents of the Palestinian village of Qaryut. The mayor, Abd al-Latif Lavum, plans to submit a petition today to the High Court of Justice demanding the issuing of a stop order to the Civil Administration to halt the work.”

Such brutal facts make Netanyahu’s talk about “economic peace” — that is, reducing Israel’s economic pressure on Palestinians in the hope they will become more pliable if their stomachs are full — completely irrelevant.

Saeb Erakat, one of the leading Palestinian peace negotiators under President Mahmoud Abbas, virtually begged the Obama Administration in last week’s Washington Post to pressure the new Israeli regime to cease settlement building and engage seriously with the Palestinians.

Tragically, it is a forlorn hope, not least because it is being expressed by Fatah, a party, that has negotiated repeatedly with the Israelis for years and achieved absolutely nothing in return other than expanded colonies.

Outgoing Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert chastised his Palestinian opponents recently by claiming he “offered a deal that has never been offered by any Prime Minister in the history of the State of Israel. A deal that dealt with the heart of every problem”.

Talk is cheap in the Middle East. Only facts on the ground matter. And these facts, highlighted by human rights group Gisha, remain dire for the human rights of the imprisoned Palestinians.

Even the ineffectual European Union is warning the Netanyahu Government that it must not “walk away from the peace process”. Perhaps the EU should follow the lead of US diplomats who recently assessed Jewish settlement activity at an Israeli-occupied district near Jerusalem — a rare public examination of illegal colony expansion.

But this has all happened before. Washington calls the settlements “unhelpful”. Israel provides a spurious excuse and continues building. The Palestinians yelp that such moves “hinder” peace but have no power to stop it. The occupation deepens. A two-state solution, long professed as the ideal outcome by the Western world, becomes more unlikely — arguably impossible. One leading Israeli commentator now even argues that the Arab League initiative to bring the entire Arab world into peace with Israel could not now be implemented even if Israel agreed.

With notable exceptions, the global Jewish diaspora remains largely mute and therefore complicit in the process. One leading Jewish American leader, the Anti-Defamation League’s Abraham Foxman, now happily and unashamedly agrees Zionism is racism, on the basis that it is a valid form of nationalism like any other.

How is this being pro-Israel? Such questions were consistently asked during the recent Australian visit of American/Israeli peace activist Jeff Halper, including at his talk at Sydney University.

John Mearsheimer, co-author of The Israel Lobby, asked Jews this same question last week, demanding to know how their silence in the face of a Greater Israel narrative would allow the Jewish state to survive in the long-term.

One commentator on the post added a pithy response:

“The US should publicly state that for every Jewish Israeli living in one of those illegal colonies, one Palestinian will be allowed to return to Israel and reclaim his or her properties. We’d be pleasantly surprised at how fast the colonies disappear.”

As with the global financial crisis, waiting for America to provide leadership on this is a fool’s game. The creators of the mess are unlikely to find the best solutions to fix it. Although the Obama administration has indicated a few differences in policy to the Bush years — although not towards Afghanistan and Pakistan, continuing the disastrous drone-bombing of “terrorists” and infuriating the civilian population — it is far too early to tell whether the Middle East will change.

Veteran journalist Seymour Hersh, writing in the New Yorker, indicates that Washington is looking to improve its relations with Syria, reflecting the belief that this could be easier than negotiating with the Palestinians. Furthermore, Iran would then be isolated. But Hersh includes a key paragraph that demands attention, arguing that during January’s attack on Gaza the incoming Obama officials had no real issue with Israel’s bombardment:

“[T]he Obama team let it be known that it would not object to the planned resupply of ‘smart bombs’ and other high-tech ordnance that was already flowing to Israel. It was [retired Marine General and national security adviser candidate James Jones] who came up with the solution and told Obama, ‘You just can’t tell the Israelis to get out.'”

Change, indeed.

Political posturing which promises a new direction without delivering it is unhelpful at best and damaging at worst. It never ceases to amaze me how the Zionist faction of the mainstream Jewish community continues to write as if the “peace process” will continue, no matter who runs Israel or America.

Take the recent revelations of IDF human rights abuses during the Gaza war. The accusations are severe and warrant independent investigation. Human Rights Watch also released a report providing evidence that Israel illegally used white phosphorous on civilian areas.

Rather than react with horror, many Zionist spokespeople have attempted to smear the messengers, particularly the IDF soldiers making the accusations. David Horowitz, editor of the Jerusalem Post, worries that the global outrage against Israel is affecting Zionist resolve:

“The notion that the tried and true methods of anti-apartheid trade protest could be widely adopted against Israel in Britain and then Europe may seem unthinkable to some.

“But it is not unthinkable to those who are internalising the degree to which Israel is being demonised and delegitimised post-Operation Cast Lead, and the extent to which this process makes defending Israel uncomfortable even for those on that continent who do have the rare capacity to distinguish between legitimate criticism and distortion, manipulation and outright falsehood.

“Put simply, Israel has rarely looked this bad in European eyes.”

Some, such as a former chairman of the pro-settler Yesha Council, argue that simply setting up a PR ministry would solve the country’s image problems. The issue, dear Zionists, isn’t the message. The problem is your shocking behaviour.

But this is perhaps where hope may lie. Israel only knows the language of discrimination, humiliation and violence (witness its decision to worsen its treatment of Hamas prisoners held in Israel, in a pointless effort to pressure the group to release Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit). These moves have never worked and they won’t now. A policy of domination has proven a failure for years and yet the Zionist establishment wants to continue it.

New York Times columnist Roger Cohen argued last week that Hamas had to be engaged and that the US should abandon the practice it followed under Bush of no longer tolerating Israeli behaviour no matter what. In its editorial that paper also stated that Hamas had to be included in any Palestinian unity government.

Pressure on the Obama Administration to break with decades-old policies is rising. Even a growing number of American Jews want intense force placed on the Israelis, according to a study by progressive lobby group, J Street.

Talk about the one-state solution is also spreading, prompted by the stalling and obfuscation of the political and media elite. Meanwhile Jewish attacks against Arabs in Israel are soaring.

If the status quo is sustainable, I’d like to know how.

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The boycott Israel issue heats up

Naomi Klein and Rabbi Arthur Waskow debate whether divestment will bring peace to the Middle East.

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A crushing legacy

Profiling a lost generation of children in Gaza:

Yair Lapid’s Friday news magazine program reported on the situation in Gaza’s refugee camps and found, “Six and seven-year olds looking for discarded food and plastic bottles.” A days work–12 hours–might bring them 5 Shekels (about a dollar), but they have no choice but to work to support their families.

Channel 2 reporter Suleiman al-Shafi talked to children between the ages of 6 and 12, who had to leave school to work in Gaza’s trash heaps. One of those kids, Sa’id, told the Israeli camera crew: “We’ve become like the cats and dogs that dig in the trash. I want to go to school like the other kids. I want to go to Israel.”

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Want to be in the establishment?

How to be part of the media elite.

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A perfectly healthy country

War crimes? What war crimes?

Military Advocate General Brig. Gen. Avichai Mendelblit on Monday instructed the Military Police Investigation unit to close the investigation into soldiers’ accounts of alleged misconduct and serious violations of the army’s rules of engagement during Operation Cast Lead.

In a press release issued Monday the army said that the preliminary Military Police investigation into the testimonies revealed that they “were based on rumors and not first-hand experience.”

No, there is nothing wrong with Israeli society:

Yossi Sarid brings news in Haaretz of how the israeli national soccer team will be given a pep talk by a commander of the Givati Brigade before its game against Greece. “In recent weeks”, he writes, “coaches have been looking for a senior commander who fought in the Gaza Strip. In the wake of recommendations they received from the Israel Defense Forces, national team coach Dror Kashtan and his assistant, Moshe Sinai, contacted Col. Ilan Malka.”

This bears repeating: the coaches actively sought a senior commander who had “fought” in Gaza—as if the several hundreds of defenceless Palestinians incinerated and crushed to death in the genocidal israeli invasion had anything to fight back with—to give the soccer team a pep talk.

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Don’t speak, really

The new star at Murdoch’s Fox News:

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The pointless screaming of Zionists

You didn’t hear that the New York Times is accused by Zionist fanatics of being pro-terrorist, anti-Israel, pro-Ahmadinejad and soft on extremism?

That’s because the usual suspects are increasingly irrelevant and shrill.

There is more than one kind of Judaism in the modern age.

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All hail the state of Kanaan

Now here’s a solution for the Middle East worth considering:

Anti-Semitic behaviour has dropped off sharply since the new state of Kanaan came into being on 14 May 2018, according to a United Nations study.

The world’s newest independent country, Kanaan incorporates all of the territory formerly known as Israel, as well as the territories that Israel illegally occupied.

Although many feared a Middle Eastern Holocaust after the disuniting of the American states, and despite threats of terrorism by the Provisional Stern Gang and the Ariel Sharon Memorial League, the transition of the highly militarised Jewish state into a modern secular democracy has been remarkably smooth.

Pockets of prejudice persist, the study found, but their influence on popular opinion is now marginal.

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The enforcers are weak

Independent Australian Jewish Voices blogger Michael Brull writes in New Matilda about the limits of “acceptable” debate on Israel/Palestine in Australia:

Desperate to promote Israeli Government policy, the Australian Jewish establishment has resorted to calling all kinds of people anti-Semites — even Jews

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The terrorists must be heard

Al-Jazeera shows the rest of the world what real journalism means: speaking to the “terrorists” in Sri Lanka is essential to understanding the conflict:

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