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.

Standing alongside the Palestinians

psw1

I was sent the following email earlier in the week, in Hebrew – “I am a Jewish Australian- Israeli student at Melbourne Uni. I served as a tank commander in the IDF, with pride – and my friend translated the message:

Dear Mr. Loewestein,

I couldn’t ignore your posters that are all over the university. It’s a shame that a Jew like you humiliates his people and foments so much anti-Semitism. It is people like you who are the cause of so much hatred towards Israel. Even the left in Israel wouldn’t think of committing a crime such as yours.

It is you, the Socialist group, weak and ignorant, that are using emotional manipulation via selective information.

My dear Antony, there has arisen a new group at the university called ISF [Israel Stands Forever], whose aim is to fight and shut the mouths of people like you.

In every place that you’ll be. We’ll be there too.
In every place where sprout your dirt, we’ll sprout back. [a Hebrew slang roughly meaning “ruin someone’s name” or “say something bad about them with no good reason”]
In every place where you’ll talk, we’ll talk back.

Of course this is all in the spirit of politics and civility.

A Jewish friend commented:

I’m struck by the explicit goal to “shut the mouths” of people they don’t agree with. I mean, it’s such a bizarre and explicit totalitarian reaction and they have no consciousness at all of their mirroring fascist mentality.

6 comments ↪
  • Marilyn

    Must be friends with these little freaks.

    What did they think would happen?

    By Amos Harel

    Tags: Gaza, Operation Cast Lead

    GOC Southern Command Yoav Galant's meticulous planning for Operation Cast Lead was mapped out to the last detail. The information gathered by the Shin Bet security service over the preceding two years provided excellent intelligence. But the General Staff also knew that hovering above was a conflicted political triumvirate, one member of which (Prime Minister Ehud Olmert) was eager to amend the dubious legacy he left behind in Lebanon, while the other two (Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni) were preoccupied with the impending election. In the backdrop was a fickle public and an impatient and demanding media. The General Staff expected that Israelis would have trouble accepting heavy Israel Defense Forces losses.

    The army chose to overcome this problem with an aggressive plan that included overwhelming firepower. The forces, it was decided, would advance into the urban areas behind a "rolling curtain" of aerial and artillery fire, backed up by intelligence from unmanned aircraft and the Shin Bet. The lives of our soldiers take precedence, the commanders were told in briefings. Before the operation, Galant and Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi painted a bleak picture for the cabinet ministers. "Unlike in Lebanon, the civilians in Gaza won't have many places to escape to," Ashkenazi warned. "When an armored force enters the city, shells will fly, because we'll have to protect our people."

    The politicians promised backing. Two weeks before the incursion, a member of the General Staff, talking to a journalist, predicted that 600-800 Palestinians civilians would be killed in an Israeli operation.

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    The terrorists operated from within a large and densely crowded civilian population, which they used as a human shield. This is asymmetrical warfare, of the type waged by the Americans after the occupation of Iraq and by the Russians in Georgia. Presumably, the IDF operated with more restraint than most armies, but the question is whether Israel uses this as a pretext to justify its actions.

    A large part of the operation was conducted by remote control. "The Palestinians are completely transparent to us," says A., a reservist whose brigade was posted in the Gaza Strip. "The Shin Bet has people everywhere. We observe the whole area from the air and usually the Shin Bet coordinator can also tell you who lives in what house." The Shin Bet defines the enemy and, for the most part, someone who belongs to Hamas' civilian welfare organizations (the da'awa) is treated the same way as a member of its military wing, the Iz al-Din al-Qassam.

    Essentially, a person only needs to be in a "problematic" location, in circumstances that can broadly be seen as suspicious, for him to be "incriminated" and in effect sentenced to death. Often, there is no need for him to be identified as carrying a weapon. Three people in the home of a known Hamas operative, someone out on a roof at 2 A.M. about a kilometer away from an Israeli post, a person walking down the wrong street before dawn – all are legitimate targets for attack.

    "It feels like hunting season has begun," says A. "Sometimes it reminds me of a Play Station [computer] game. You hear cheers in the war room after you see on the screens that the missile hit a target, as if it were a soccer game."

    The one who makes the final decision of whether to fire is usually not the brigade commander (who is with the forward forces in the field), but the "director" of combat, stationed at a command center in the rear: the deputy brigade commander, the headquarters' chiefs or majors who are studying and return to the brigade in times of combat. Another change in operational methods involved reducing reliance on the independent judgment of Israel Air Force personnel, who are located relatively far from the field.

    'Little racists'

    After the intense firepower employed at the outset, the forces were surprised to discover that they were not fighting in a "sterile," civilian-free environment as they had in Lebanon, 2006. Soldiers' testimonies, from graduates of the Yitzhak Rabin pre-military preparatory course at Oranim Academic College in Tivon, and also from the watered-down descriptions supplied by the army's Bamahaneh weekly magazine, make this crystal clear. There were civilians who were too frightened to flee or who didn't read the leaflets dropped by the IAF, and remained in their homes. As in every war, prolonged time in the field led to brutish behavior in some of the units.

    "The impact of the long confrontation with the Palestinians cannot be ignored," says a senior reserve officer, "and one should also bear in mind what sort of values inductees have when they come to us these days. Every year, the education system produces a significant number of little racists."

    Periodic studies conducted by the IDF contain soldiers' testimonies about the use of the so-called "neighbor procedure" (forcing Palestinians to enter nearby houses to ask inhabitants to come out), abuses at checkpoints, shooting at medical personnel and more. In Gaza, too, while the official orders called for preserving the dignity and rights of Palestinian civilians, there were some junior officers who followed their own code and ignored improper actions by their troops. And there were, of course, impressive instances where the opposite occurred, such as the soldiers from a Golani patrol battalion who helped evacuate dozens of wheelchair-bound Palestinians from the combat zone.

    There is a discrepancy between the official military response, of denial and horrified disapproval, the testimonies of the Rabin pre-military preparatory course graduates, and the response to those reports by key officers, unwilling to be identified.

    "What did you think would happen?" a senior officer wondered this week. "We sent 10,000 troops into Gaza, more than 200 tanks and armored personnel carriers, 100 bulldozers. What were 100 bulldozers going to do there?"

    The IDF estimates that approximately 2,000 houses were destroyed in the fighting. The Palestinians say the figure is twice that. IDF officers, who were not surprised by the testimonies, recalled that during the Al-Aqsa Intifada, military courts convicted soldiers for killing civilians, including the British peace activist Tom Hurndall, who was killed in Gaza in 2003.

    Until the soldiers' testimonies were published, the IDF Spokesman's Office had been highly successful in promoting its version of events. The international media may not have bought it, but the army managed to sell the Israeli public an almost impossible package: We were victorious in Gaza, we suffered minimal casualties and we also came out of there smelling like roses.

    On Monday, during a visit to an IDF induction center, the chief of staff addressed this matter. His statements ("I do not believe this happened") raised a few eyebrows in the defense establishment. Lt. Gen. Ashkenazi is also the commander of the investigators in the IDF criminal investigation division (CID), who are coordinating the two investigations that were launched in the wake of the soldiers' testimonies. Even when we are told time and again that "the IDF is the world's most ethical army" (copyright: Shaul Mofaz), we are not obliged to answer "Amen."

    Criminal proceedings

    This story is reminiscent of both intifadas: A complex, morally problematic mission, combined with lots of maneuvering room for field commanders, is liable to culminate in conduct that crosses the red line. This is what happened under then-defense minister Yitzhak Rabin during the first intifada ("break their bones"), and it happened to prime minister Ehud Barak with the outbreak of the second intifada (in the form of millions of shots fired in the West Bank by the IDF, in October 2000). Sometimes, legal intervention can actually help reinstate the norms, but during the second intifada, the last IDF judge advocate general, Maj. Gen. Menachem Finkelstein, annulled the practice of opening an investigation into every killed Palestinian. His successor, Brig. Gen. Avichai Mendelblit, is launching his first investigations only now, after the publication of the testimonies from the Rabin course graduates.

    During the two initial, gloomy years of the first intifada, four criminal proceedings shaped the rules of conduct: the Yehuda Meir case, the Golani case, and the Givati Alef and Givati Bet cases. Col. Emanuel Gross, who presided over the court in the Givati Alef case, made it clear to the army that breaking bones was unacceptable, that it was an illegal action "with a black flag fluttering above it." The Golani brigade commander at the time was today's chief of staff, Lieut. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi.

  • Basically I am centrist and security minded. The Jews are worthy. I am part Jewish. The Arabs are worthy. The extremists from both camps are not.

    An Israeli blitzkrieg into Arab lands dishonours the sons of Israel. Even if Israel coerces its American sponsors through endless guilt the whole world watches, including thinking Jews of the wider Diaspora.

    The Israelis need to think it through like the rest of the world. Most people killed by the Nazis were non-Jewish Russians but the Russians are now peaceful in comparison to the current sons of Israel.

    Pete

  • "It is people like you who are the cause of so much hatred towards Israel."

    Much more likely it's Israel's own behaviour.

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