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.

Israel to bomb Iran? Don’t believe the hype

My latest column for New Matilda is about the relationship between Israel and Iran and the prospects for war:

The Israel lobby want to bomb Iran, but calmer heads can see plenty of reasons not to. This time the lobby may not get what it wants, writes Antony Loewenstein

Roger Cohen, a columnist for the New York Times, recently urged Obama to read Trita Parsi’s superb work Treacherous Alliance — The secret dealings of Israel, Iran and the US. Early in it, Parsi places in context the current fear-mongering over Iran’s supposed desire to obliterate Israel:

“Though the Iranian revolution was a major setback for Israel, it didn’t stop the Jewish state from supporting Iran and seeking to improve its relations with the Khomeini government as a counter to Israel’s Arab enemies. Ironically, when Iranian leaders called for Israel’s destruction in the 1980s, Israel and the pro-Israel lobby in Washington lobbied the United States not to pay attention to Iranian rhetoric.”

So what changed? The end of the Cold War and the event of the 1991 Persian Gulf War. Parsi explains that, “strategic considerations that had put Iran and Israel on the same geopolitical side in the latter part of the 20th century evaporated. Soon enough, absent any common foes, Israel and Iran found themselves in a rivalry to redefine the regional order after the decimation of Iraq’s military.”

Parsi painstakingly reveals the process by which the Jewish state convinced much of the West that Tehran’s mullahs were irrational and prone to suicidal tendencies, despite the long-standing pragmatic decisions pursued by the Islamic Republic.

On that score, nothing has changed in nearly 20 years.

“Israel stands ready to bomb Iran’s nuclear sites” the London Times claimed last weekend. The story used largely anonymous Israeli sources and the message was clear: if America doesn’t join us, we will hit Iran anyway. An article in Ha’aretz is already talking about a “timetable” for military action. Sometime in 2010 is the new deadline (which in the past has been 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009).

The recent sentence of Iranian/American journalist Roxana Saberi for spying has added complications to the Obama Administration’s slight but significant overtures towards Tehran. However, many key players in America, Israel and Iran have too much invested in warming relations between the Jewish and Islamic states. From the other direction, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has made similarly positive noises.

US Defence Secretary Robert Gates warned Israel last week that any military action would not stop Iran’s nuclear activities and would merely embolden the mullahs to accelerate whatever program it has. Of course, Israel would never consider an attack without first asking for Washington’s permission, and a key Washington insider has claimed that an Israeli attack on Iran is highly unlikely as long as the Americans are in Iraq.

An intriguing angle to the growing diplomatic proceedings was a quote that recently appeared in Israel’s biggest newspaper, Yediot Aharonot. The US Administration is allegedly talking about assisting in the dismantling of the Iranian nuclear “threat” in return for the evacuation of West Bank settlements. A conversation reportedly took place recently between the White House Chief of Staff and Obama confidante, Rahm Emmanuel, and a senior Jewish leader in Washington. Emmanuel is reported to have said: “Over the next four years there will be a permanent agreement between Israel and the Palestinians on the basis of two states and we don’t particularly care who will be the prime minister.”

Obama is apparently not playing by the same rulebook as George W Bush.

The idea that America can impose a settlement is fanciful, presuming that’s what Washington truly wants to do. Intense pressure can undoubtedly be applied to the Jewish state to evacuate the thousands of illegal colonies in the West Bank, but the new Benjamin Netanyahu Government is already baulking at entering into discussions with the Palestinians. Meanwhile, in Gaza they’re still suffering.

Thankfully, Obama’s main regional envoy, George Mitchell, has rejected their wish for the Palestinians to acknowledge Israel as a Jewish state before negotiations even begin. The fact that Israel’s borders have never been set due to ever-expanding settlement should have made the wish moot. Furthermore, why should the Palestinians have to support the concept of a racially exclusionary nation that actively discriminates against Arabs and Palestinians?

Besides, as a US official said in response: “nations don’t recognise other nations as anything in particular. How a nation state defines itself is the business only of the country itself”. Netanyahu’s ploy is simply to buy time, something the Jewish Diaspora is seemingly willing to allow him to do.

The Australian Jewish establishment remains incapable of engaging with the issues maturely, preferring to offer slogans and Israeli Government talking points. Witness the example of Melbourne University academic Dvir Abramovich expressing in this week’s Australian Jewish News that after the recent visit of Israeli peace activist Jeff Halper, Jews here were upset because of “the fibre of deep connection, loyalty and commitment to Israel means that any attack upon it resonates as if it were an attack on our sons, daughters and brothers.”

Yes, Abramovich’s feelings are hurt, which is clearly far more important than addressing the issues Halper raised, namely the apartheid system in the West Bank. Israeli journalist Noam Sheizaf on his blog outlines the direction in which his country is heading, where the occupation and Arabs are invisible and examples of Jewish racism are a daily occurrence.

While the Australian Jewish establishment weeps over a country they infantilise, Ha’aretz has reported that Obama intends to push Israel to open negotiations with both the Palestinians and Syrians in an attempt to “restrain Tehran’s influence and contribute to the diplomatic effort to block Iran’s nuclearisation”. While the prospect of possible negotiations is obviously a good sign, we have been down similar paths before. Talks for the sake of talks. Negotiations that lead nowhere while colonies expand. And there is little chance that the divided Palestinian leadership will be prepared to demilitarise their territory in line with such talks.

Tragically, some of the loudest Jewish voices in Israel and America are almost begging for a military strike against Iran. David Samuels, a contributing editor at Harper’s, writes on Slate about a “rational argument” for an attack. “Who can really argue with the idea of trading the Iranian nuclear bomb for a Palestinian state?”, he asks. This is a curious way to frame the question. The “logic” that he presents for such a strike is that , apparently, “Israel would buy itself another 40 years as the only nuclear-armed country in the Middle East.”

The fact that Samuels can write such irrational and racist tripe without once mentioning the word “occupation” shows that he believes the status quo of Israel as a coloniser of Palestinian land is acceptable. It is, as Israeli journalist Noam Sheizaf blogs, symptomatic of the current Israeli mainstream:

“…Many people don’t think there is such a thing as ‘the occupation…Unlike the years before Oslo, almost nobody visits the West Bank anymore, and Palestinians don’t enter Israel. For most Israelis, the Palestinian problem is an abstract concept, almost imaginary. The drive from some Tel Aviv suburbs to the nearest Palestinian city takes about 10 minutes, but these are two separate worlds.”

Nobody can deny the vile anti-Semitism that exists within certain sections of the Iranian political elite (described yet again in a recent New Yorker feature by Jon Lee Anderson), but none of this has anything to do with the current standoff between the West and Tehran. This is all about power politics in the Middle East and who has the right to be top dog.

Ultimately no state has the right to act illegally or aggressively, something the Jewish nation has become particularly good at (as has Iran, at times). The current circus around the Durban II conference in Geneva, with Iran being placed at the centre of world evil, is merely continuing the charade.

A nuclear-free Middle East should be the goal of any negotiations, an outcome curiously absent from virtually all of the current debate.

no comments – be the first ↪