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.

Don’t take these junkets

It’s encouaraging that the Sydney Morning Herald runs this story today, continuing the necessary push-back against free trips to Israel taken by journalists and politicians, mostly too clueless (or pleased?) to realise that such visits seem to magically end up resulting in returnees praising the wonders of democratic Israel. Have these free-loaders no back-bone? How about asking to visit Gaza or deep inside the West Bank?

A former Australian ambassador to Israel has raised concern about the high number of overseas travel gifts accepted by federal MPs and suggested the scheme could be distorting Australia’s foreign policy perspectives.

Ross Burns said that during his time as ambassador to Israel from 2001 to 2003 there were many visits by MPs but only one was not a travel gift. He said this had translated into a substantial political benefit for Israel over Arab countries.

“The issue of subsidised travel is a difficult one,” he told the Herald.

“The issue was particularly tortuous in the case of Israel, where a disproportionate number of visits, including backbench MPs, Opposition frontbenchers and serving ministers, were funded not by the Australian Government or the Parliament but by Israeli lobby groups.”

Last month the Herald revealed that almost one in four federal MPs had accepted free overseas travel from foreign governments, private companies and lobby groups in the 16 months since the last election.

The 109 trips abroad by politicians from all parties included 19 visits to China, 15 to Israel and 14 to Taiwan and to the United States.

Trips typically cost several thousand dollars and include business or first class air fares and accommodation. MPs are required to provide brief details to the Register of Pecuniary Interests but are not forced to reveal the cost, what they do nor whom they meet.

The spotlight has been thrown onto this unregulated scheme by the embarrassing confession by the Defence Minister, Joel Fitzgibbon, that he had failed to declare two trips to China, in 2002 and 2005, paid for by his friend Helen Liu.

Mr Burns, who also served as ambassador to Lebanon and Syria in the 1980s and South Africa and Greece in the 1990s, called for the Government to review the travel gifts scheme.

“The heavy reliance on subsidised visits to Israel has taken its toll in terms of Australia’s wider interests. Most MPs and ministers who visited until recently followed programs that gave a heavily sanitised view of the Israel/Palestine situation,” Mr Burns said.

“Missing, for example, was any exposure to the heavy burden that Israel’s occupation of most of the lands of Palestine has imposed on both societies. Australia’s embassy in Tel Aviv could often be sidelined in the natural desire of the hosts, and accompanying ‘minders’, to present a few ‘facts on the ground’ including meetings or visits that might be construed as accepting Israel’s sovereignty in contested territory.

“The number of trips to Israel also greatly outnumbered visits to Arab countries, even those that have provided significant elements of the Australian community such as Lebanon and Egypt.”

He said it was difficult to get ministers to visit Arab countries apart from “quick touchdowns” for an international gathering, and Australia’s interests were perceived by ministers “solely through the optic of our relations with Israel”.

“Ms Liu has done us a great service in reminding the Australian public that subsidised travel does have a hidden cost. I suspect the costs may be a lot more trivial in the case of China than in the Middle East, where our stocks have never been lower and where political mindsets have long been conditioned through the practice of subsidised visits,” he said.

The Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council has paid for 13 MPs to visit Israel since November 2007. Its executive director, Colin Rubenstein, said the program had been running for several years. Some journalists from the Herald have taken this trip.

“It’s usually a five-day or so intensive visit to try and understand better the very complex realities of the Middle East so they have a better understanding of what’s transpiring in the region and frankly make them more effective as parliamentarians,” he said.

“They’re mature people. We let them make up their own minds. They’re exposed to a whole range of viewpoints. They meet with a whole range of Israeli and Palestinian opinion when we can.”

He said the trips usually cost several thousand dollars each and the money came from supporters in Australia, not foreign governments.

Having spoken to Ross about this in the past, I hope he pursues his position further than simply through the media.

The Zionist lobby knows that if these trips stop, less people will buy the image of democratic, sunny, beautiful Israel.

2 comments ↪
  • Pingback: Just trying saying no for once | Antony Loewenstein()

  • Kevin Charles Herber

     

    Gaza Gillard…the great failure for all those who wanted a female PM in their lifetimes….

    Her political & personal judgement is shown to be wanting  the more we get to know her.

    The fact that her partner, in December 2009, took a job with one of Australia's leading far right Zionists, who also happened to lead the Israeli deputation to Israel last year in which Gillard & others travel costs were paid by the Zionist lobby.

    She should NEVER be PM of Australia.