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.

It’s time for Jews to answer serious questions

The attempt by supporters of Israel to smear anybody with the anti-Semitic brush will only increase as the Jewish state takes its place in the gallery of rogue nations.

Take the London Independent columnist Howard Jacobson, who wrote in his paper in February that much criticism of Israel during the Gaza war was, you guessed it, anti-Semitic. His inability to see past his narrow ethno-centric perspective was typical of so many Jews who want to live in a constant world of victimhood. They refuse to take responsibility for the crimes committed in their name.

The following day, the paper ran a number of letters challenging Jacobson’s arguments:

Like beauty, or so it seems, anti-Semitism lies in the eye of the beholder, and Howard Jacobson is determined to see it everywhere. His attempt to associate criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism and the shades of Nazism is misplaced. The distinguished Jewish scholar, Yeshayahu Leibowitz, introduced the term “Judeo-Nazism” after the Six-Day War, an event he described as having destroyed the “moral infra-structure” of the Jewish state, predicting that, “continued occupation and oppression of the Palestinians must eventually lead to a fully fledged fascist regime inside Israel”, a prediction we are perilously close to witnessing.

Despite what Jacobson may claim, criticism of Israel is essential, for, as the social critic Isaac Deutscher said, “The ‘friends of Israel’ have in fact abetted Israel in a ruinous course”. For such apologists and religious zealots there is never a case to answer, however intolerable the actions; rather, as Avigdor Liebermann recently put it, they should despise the “weakness of the Gentiles”. Israel’s Jews have become, in Deutscher’s memorable phrase, “the Prussians of the Middle East”.

Though Jacobson makes much of the betrayal of the Holocaust, it was Israel’s Premier, Menachem Begin, who showed willing to manipulate its memory in using the analogy of the Warsaw ghetto to justify the bombing of Beirut, that the Jews would be victims no longer. And therein lies the problem: Jews were expurgating their victimhood, but against the wrong people, a people who (at first) were not their enemies, but were driven to be.

It is time for Israel and Zionists to show moral maturity and less incendiary defensiveness, to respond to justified criticism honestly rather than by continuously invoking monsters of the past or, as does Jacobson, with tawdry canards of evasive exculpation.

Dominic Kirkham

Manchester

Howard Jacobson is extremely, and may I suggest wilfully, confused. He accuses those of us who have protested about the Israeli slaughter of Palestinians of anti-Semitism. Our protest has always been aimed at the state of Israel and the Zionist ideology it rests on.

On our side, there is no confusion about Israel being a “Jewish state”. We do not see the vast wall separating Palestinians from their families and land as Jewish. Nor did we blame the dropping of thousands of cluster bombs on Lebanon as Jewish. Nor do we see the illegal occupation of the West Bank as Jewish. Nor did we decry the recent massacre of Gazans as Jewish. Nor do we see the blockading and starving of Gaza as being inherently Jewish.

All these atrocities belong to the Israeli state, and our protests are aimed at the perpetrators and their supporters here, of which the current government is the most culpable.

Howard Jacobson insists on saying that Israel is a “Jewish state”. If he was right, anti-Semitism would be highly logical and difficult to deny. If war, terror and illegal occupation occur because the perpetrators are Jews rather than Zionists, then the victims would be perfectly correct in hating their tormentors for being Jews.

Thankfully, the victims see things a little more clearly than Howard Jacobson, who, perversely, sees Israel as the victim. So here is another reason to hate Israel: they cause anti-Semitism and then blame it on us.

John Westmoreland

Doncaster, South Yorkshire

Here we go again; criticise Israel and we are immediately accused of anti-Semitism. Presumably, the only way in which we could not be accused of it would be to remain silent. But why should Israel be subject to preferential treatment among the countries of the world ?

Mr Jacobson should grow up (or stop being disingenuous). Israel’s attack on Gaza was extreme so it elicited an extreme response.

James Stevenson

Godalming, Surrey

Most of the responses to Howard Jacobson’s article serve to demonstrate how right he is. He is “accused” of supporting Israel and therefore being “one-sided”. People are not accused of being one-sided for supporting Palestinians, I think?

Those of us familar with the good old Soviet Union recognise the Left’s aversion to “incorrect thinking”, as only one opinion can possibly be right. This all does remind even a non-Zionist such as myself why Israel exists.

It is because, even in the late 19th century, it was made clear to many Jews that the people among whom they lived in Europe could not be trusted. We know what happened 50 years later. Still, it was encouraging that the people at the gym did not ignore the outburst of the distinguished Foreign Office civil servant (report, 8 February). But they probably were not enlightened Independent readers.

M Schachter

London NW6

Re: Howard Jacobson’s article. Thank you. You have articulated all that I feel as an English Jew. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Mic Austen

Brentwood, Essex

Further, the writer of a play about Gaza, Carol Churchill, equally smeared by Jacobson in predictable fashion, responded:

Howard Jacobson (Opinion, 18 February) writes as if there’s something new about describing critics of Israel as anti-Semitic. But it’s the usual tactic. We are not going to agree about politics. Where he sees the benevolent withdrawal of Israel from Gaza, I see more than 1,000 Palestinians killed by Israel since the withdrawal, before the recent attacks. But we should be able to disagree without accusations of anti-Semitism, which lead to a pantomime of, “Oh yes you are”, “Oh no I’m not”, to distract attention from Israel.

My play, Seven Jewish Children, to which Howard Jacobson referred, shows the difficulty of explaining violence to children. In the early scenes, it is violence against Jewish people; by the end, it is the violence in Gaza.

It covers many years in 10 minutes and is, of course, an incomplete history. It leaves out a great deal that is favourable to Israel and a great deal that is unfavourable. It shows people being persecuted, some of them going to a homeland (where others have been displaced) and the defensiveness of their threatened position, leading to further violence.

Howard Jacobson seems to see the play from a very particular perspective so that everything is twisted. The characters are “covert and deceitful”, they are constructing a “parallel hell” to Hitler’s Europe, they are “monsters who kill babies by design”. I don’t recognise the play from that description.

Throughout the play, families try to protect children. Finally, one of the parents explodes, saying, “No, stop preventing her from knowing what’s on the TV news”. His outburst is meant, in a small way, to shock during a shocking situation. Is it worse than a picture of Israelis dancing for joy as smoke rises over Gaza? Or the text of Rabbi Shloyo Aviner’s booklet distributed to soldiers saying cruelty is sometimes a good attribute?

Then we have “chosen people”. Some people are now uncomfortable with a phrase that can seem to suggest racial superiority. But George W Bush, speaking to the Knesset on the 60th anniversary of the founding of Israel, talked about “the homeland of the chosen people” without anyone suggesting he was accusing Israelis of racism or was anti-Semitic. Some supporters of Israel still use it with enthusiasm.

Finally, the blood libel. I find it extraordinary that, because the play talks about the killing of children in Gaza, I am accused of reviving the medieval blood libel that Jews killed Christian children and consumed their blood. The character is not “rejoicing in the murder of little children”. He sees dead children on television and feels numb and defiant in his relief that his own child is safe. He believes that what has happened is justified as self-defence. Howard Jacobson may agree. I don’t, but it doesn’t make either of them a monster, or me anti-Semitic.

If one of the main pieces of evidence for the rise of anti-Semitism is this play, I don’t think there’s much to worry about. If it’s really on the increase, then we should all stand up against it. But calling political opponents anti-Semitic just confuses the issue.

When people attack English Jews in the street saying, “This is for Gaza”, they are making a terrible mistake, confusing the people who bombed Gaza with Jews in general. When Howard Jacobson confuses those who criticise Israel with anti-Semites, he is making the same mistake. Unless he’s doing it on purpose.

Caryl Churchill

Royal Court Theatre, London SW1

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