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.

We’ve got to keep on talking

Lebanese Chess is a fascinating blog written by a Lebanese Australian. His recent post is titled, “A week of speeches“:

Khatami, Halper and Loewenstein … three public speakers at Australia’s main political university, the Australian National University (ANU), in a week.

I went to see them all, and nothing much out of the three surprised me. Many Israeli and Jewish critics of Israeli policy only seem to be repeating what Arabs have been saying for 60 years, but we’re never going to convince the Israeli or Jewish public on our own. Indeed, a solution will never be found unless Israelis and Jews participate in finding a just peace.

Mohammad Khatami was eloquent and insightful about his program for dialogue among civilisations, and the need for the various civilisations to respect each other, something which he insists the West does not do vis-a-vis Islam or other cultures of the Third World.

He was able to steer clear of being dragged into discussion about the more controversial issues dominating Iran today, such as its stance towards Israel, the rights of women and minorities in the country etc.

The former Iranian President made the point that dialogue between civilisations had to be conducted by those that represent culture … artists, scholars, academics, scientists and not politicians. However, he managed the questions as professionally as a politician could. He retorted narrow questions that specified on a certain point by fluffing about grand schemes. For example, several Bahais in the audience repeatedly quizzed Khatami on the rights of the sect in Iran, and Khatami brushed them off as matters of crime and governance.

Having said that, those who posed such political questions could only have expected a political response. Anyone who attended the public lecture (and there were several hundred in the audience) and anticipated a Khatami tirade of his theocratic regime were kidding themselves. Khatami eloquently distanced himself from some of the harsh measures of the theocracy, whilst maintaining its integrity and dignity in his responses.

I enjoyed watching Khatami, it is always enjoyable to watch a statesman at his best, regardless of his political affiliation. Khatami was followed by Australia’s own statesman and former conservative Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser – a harsh critic of Israel and Australia’s blind support for the country – who welcomed Khatami’s initiatives, and urged the West to open its eyes and do away with its superior-inferior complex when it comes to non-Western cultures. Indeed, perhaps their shared ideas of dialogue among civilisations and cultural co-existence might come into fruition some day.

Jeff Halper, the pro-Palestinian rights Israeli academic, was outstanding to say the least. Nothing he mentioned differed very much from the traditional Arab perspective, which is that the Palestinians have no rights, live in hell, and need help. The charismatic academic did well to outline the facts of Israel’s colonisation of the West Bank, and its intentions. What he revealed matched everything of what I and others have previously said about Israel’s strategy vis-a-vis the Palestinians.

Halper is now championing a one-state solution, something I too have long supported. I never considered the two-state solution to be feasible, essentially because it didn’t take into consideration all of the Palestinian concerns, which meant conflict would always result. Even when the Palestinian leadership seemed willing to accept this half-arsed compromise, the Israelis had no intention of giving an ounce of territory to them.

Although Halper did step a bit further by privately stating to me that Israel/Palestine, Lebanon, Syria and Jordan should move to create a single economic unit that mirrored the historical unit of the Levant. I put the question to him, “you mean a Greater Syria?”, followed by a few laughs. An Israeli advocating a Greater Syria? Who would’ve thought?

His essential point in the lecture was as follows: “For there to be a one-state solution, that would mean an end to the Jewish state. What’s wrong with that?”

Exactly! What is wrong with that? Why can’t Jews, Muslims and Christians share what is essentially the same country? If we are to approach this conflict from a human rights angle, there is nothing wrong with this proposal at all.

As for Antony Loewenstein, the Jewish-Australian and fellow pro-Palestinian rights activist/blogger/writer, I do feel for this guy. He is relatively young and has devoted an extraordinary amount of talent and effort to stand up to the Zionist powerhouse of his own community. He contributes far more to the Palestinian and Arab cause than do many of our own people. Activists like Loewenstein and Halper really put the Phalangists, Samir Geagea and their likes to shame.

Loewenstein also audaciously mentioned (to the humming of the audience) what is on all of our lips in the West that is seldomly spoken aloud … our entrenched racism.

A brilliant remark he made, something which even I have dared not mention, was a reference to Western attitudes reflected in the military’s treatment of indigenous populations in Afghanistan, Iraq and Lebanon/Palestine.

He stated that the horrors of Abu Ghraib, Fallujah, Lebanon 2006, and Gaza 2009 were not simply lapses of military discipline, but rather a result of a widespread lack of “rules of engagement”. Western militaries, Israel included, have no rules of engagement, and often do not distinguish between occupied civilians and combatants. The recurring abuses and massacres perpretrated by Western armies and Israel is a consequence of our underlying racism, and the fact that – as Loewenstein beautifully put it – the West views the indigenous peoples of these countries as inferior, akin to German perceptions of the inferior and expendable Jew prior to and during WWII.

This ties in with, what I believe was, Khatami’s comments today that the West must respect the cultures and civilisations of the Third World, and cease viewing all that is non-Western as inferior.

Discussion on this core matter is virtually non-existent in the West because, as Loewenstein added, we in the West do not dare question our moral right, nor the possibility that we are in fact racist. We like to view ourselves as liberators, the bearers of modern civilisation and democracy, the beacon of human rights … not as racists.

Well if there was something glaringly obvious to me whilst in Lebanon 2006, it was that too few cared about 1200 civilians getting killed, or the fate of those stuck in the conflict. I recall clearly how there were many in Australia who called on the Howard Government to not send rescue ships to help us, thousands of Australian-Lebanese stranded in the conflict. The arguments ranged from ‘we weren’t Australian’, or ‘we were just using the country for its welfare benefits’ and so forth.

Indeed, the pro-Bush conservative government at the time acted to the tune of these arguments. I rang the embassy in Beirut, I registered online countless of times, I went down to see them face-to-face, only to be told I couldn’t see them. Nothing, there was no news, there was no action, no one from DFAT or the embassy bothered to contact me or my friends. The clear underlying belief from these calls and the subsequent lacklustre behaviour of the Australian Government was that we were inferior Arabs, we weren’t white and we weren’t worthy of rescuing.

Fortunately, my Australian-Lebanese friends and I organised our own sortie, and drove to Syria in a private vehicle, dodging Israeli warplanes, with two Australian flags on our vehicle. Funny that us so called non-Australians happened to have Australian flags on us at the time.

What appeared so clear to me from these three talks is that we are all speaking the same language. A former Iranian President, an Israeli academic, a Jewish Australian activist/blogger/journalist, me – a Lebanese Australian blogger – and hundreds, if not thousands, of others on the blogosphere, in academia, in refugee camps, are repeating the same lines:

– The Palestinians need to be given their rights, and Israel has to accept their existence and learn to share the land with them.

– The West must equally learn to accept and respect the many civilisations it once colonised. It colonises them no longer, and this century will see its former colonies rise above it.

Whilst all three speakers happened to be coincidentally scheduled in the same week, together they served a serious reality check for those who attended.

A few comments. The Australian visit of the former Iranian President continues to generate debate here (from rational to neo-conservative rantings). During my visit to Iran in 2007 I found a great deal of support for Khatami among the youth, a rejection of the extremism of Ahmadinejad. For some critics, however, it seems that unless a leader is a Zionist apologist they should be shunned.

And yesterday I spent the day with Jeff Halper, a wonderfully warm, articulate and passionate Jewish advocate for peace in Israel/Palestine. The faux controversy stirred by some Jews who refuse to hear his brutal message of apartheid in the West Bank – including a few Jewish students at UNSW last night, clearly unfamiliar with the actions of the IDF – suggests that many in the organised Jewish community continue to imagine an Israel in their minds, not reality.

The Jerusalem Post may mock the serious allegations of war crimes against the IDF in Gaza – in an editorial titled, “Purity of Arms” – but the image of the Zionist state is declining by the day. The Jewish establishment either accepts that there are fundamental flaws in a racially discriminatory nation or they pay a dear price, namely boycott, divestment and sanctions.

It seems most have already made their decision.

The world either embraces leaders and spokesmen who crave peace and engagement; or war and only conflict with the “other”.

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