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.

Palestine, Israel and freedom of speech: striking at the heart of liberal democracies

My following piece appears in today’s edition of Crikey:

Echoing the discredited and contemptible Holocaust-denier David Irving, Australian Frederick Toben, who happily accepted an invitation to the 2006 Holocaust denial conference in Tehran, was back in the news last week after being found in contempt by a Federal Court for refusing to remove material from his website that vilified Jews. The Australian featured a photo of Toben’s nephew giving a Nazi salute outside the court.

As a human being first and a Jew second, Holocaust denial disgusts me  — as it should any decent person. It must be condemned in the strongest possible terms as both an indignity to the millions of victims and survivors, as well as a perversion of the historical record. The Jewish Holocaust, along with other similar catastrophes against Cambodians, Rwandans, Palestinians and Tamils, should be respected and understood.

But there are two critical questions about the whole Toben saga. Firstly, does it do anything to address the serious issue of Holocaust revisionism, a growing problem as survivors of the death camps fade away? Secondly, can the Executive Council of Australian Jewry (ECAJ), the lobby group that has pursued the Toben case for years, credibly argue that Toben has been chastised by their pursuit let alone that community education on the Holocaust been enhanced? Just last week saw yet another Australian man, who had posted anti-Semitic rants on YouTube, charged with inciting racial hatred.

The Toben and Irving cases strike at the heart of liberal democracies. Which views are permissible? Are there limits? Who decides the rules?

More ominously, however, the Toben saga masks a very selective concern for racial vilification by the ECAJ. Holocaust denial warrants condemnation, but too often any criticism against Jews or Zionism is automatically slammed  — witness a recent article by the former head of the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies (JBD) professing to oppose all racial hatred, especially anything directed at Jews. Yet, equally egregious examples of bigotry are ignored, even endorsed. Anti-Muslim sentiment has often been proudly displayed since September 11 by the Zionist establishment. In their worldview, only what they find offensive should be censored.

Take the case of leading Israeli historian Benny Morris who visited Australia in 2008 and was warmly welcomed by the current head of the JBD head Vic Alhadeff. Morris has exposed the massacres and forced expulsions of Palestinians in 1948 but he is also a proud extremist who thinks the Arabs are “barbarians” who should be placed in a “cage”. He believes that the mistake of David Ben-Gurion and the leadership of 1948 was that they did not fully carry out the expulsion of the Palestinians. He has called for a pre-emptive nuclear strike against Iran. He argues in his new book that Jews value life more than Muslims.

These positions are abhorrent. However, I would not want to censor Morris’s views. If Toben’s ideas are beyond the pale, why not equally call for the censure of Morris or even push for criminal charges? The answer is obvious: the Jewish establishment largely agrees with Morris, he’s Jewish and a Zionist and therefore not “offensive.” A community is either consistent about racial vilification or it’s not.

There have been countless examples of senior Jewish leaders publicly supporting viciously anti-Islam and anti-Arab sentiments and regularly welcoming overseas visitors, such as Daniel Pipes, who routinely defame Muslims in the name of their Zionist jihad. Pipes continually claimed during last year’s US Presidential debate that Barack Obama was Muslim, a transparent attempt to insinuate terrorist-sympathy. I don’t remember the shock-jocks calling for the Jewish establishment to stand up and take a stand against such bigotry (such is demanded of Muslims.)

Where, for example, is the Jewish outrage over the third biggest party in the Israeli Knesset, Yisrael Beiteinu  — its leader is hardline Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman  — last week proposing a law that would forbid Arabs in Israel from commemorating their annual “Nakba” [catastrophe] day? For many Palestinians, this is nothing less than an assault on denying what they regard as their Holocaust.

My point here isn’t to support rampant racial hatred; I actively campaign against it (and when Toben himself approached me in 2006 at the Adelaide launch of my book, My Israel Question, I wanted to have nothing to do with him). There is no denying that Holocaust revisionism is a growing problem and it must be tackled in every way possible.

But the agendas of those pushing loudest for criminal punishment against racial vilification are counter-productive, highly selective and certainly demonstrate double standards. The Jewish victim complex must end and criticism of Israel, as distinct to that of Jews, treated as both legitimate and appropriate in a democracy. Witness last week’s predictable smearing in Melbourne of a robust “anti-Semitic” play about Israel.

Free speech is a delicate beast that must be constantly nurtured and defended. Our society can handle robust engagement on a host of issues. Some will offend Jews. Some will offend Muslims. Some won’t offend anybody.

Hurt feelings shouldn’t be a crime.

9 comments ↪
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  • Bob

    Well said, Antony. It's really simple: one must oppose racism and support human rights without discrimination on the basis of race, sex, religion or nationality. It's as easy as that.

  • Marilyn

    In two books I have read in the last year it has been shown that of the 450,000 jews in Germany in 1933 at least 300,000 of them escaped before the nazi pogroms and murders and in Austria and Russia a further 2 thirds of the jews managed to flee before the war and holocaust. Yet when I mention that because I feel it is a victory for those people I am labelled an anti-semite and liar.

    Even by Michael Brill. It's an absurd proposition that some jews want more jews to have been killed than did when people like me think it is a poke in the eye to both Hitler and Stalin that they didn't die.

    What sort of ridiculous, twisted victimhood is that? MacDonogh didn't just make up the numbers, they are in the official census.

    James Bacque proves from census and other records that between 9 and 13.7 million German civilians were killed, starved to death and raped and brutalised under the Morgenthau plan and when I talk about it I am again labelled anti-semitic though how pointing out that twice as many German civilians were murdered by the allies than jews by Germans makes me anti-jewish is beyond my imagination.

    Jews were less than 8% of the entire mass murder in WW11 yet they are the only group who continue to pester the world from compensation while continuing to murder, maim and steal from Palestinians while pretending that Israel was set up to help jews escape nazi persecution in Europe.

    IN 1948? And in all the years since?

    I don't think so.

    But my views are censored even my New Matilda.

    It is ignorant and stupid to assume the only view of jewish history is the zionist view.

  • Jennifer

    You are so right when you point out that extreme reactions to holocaust denial are counter-productive. Holocaust deniers are like proponents of flat earth and intelligent design or teenagers intent on attracting attention with some irritating behaviour.

    The illegal occupation of Palestine is a present day reality and it costs lives, Palestinian and Israeli. The human cost of Israeli apartheid is enormous as I am reminded every time I am delayed at a checkpoint and shouted at rudely by a teenage soldier who has been subjected to de-humanising military training.

  • Henry di Suvero

    Toben's prosecution could not occur in the United States because of the First Amendment's protection for free speech. The philosophical underpinning of that protection is that if speech is free, then in the marketplace of ideas, good ideas will triumph over bad ones. And if speech is not free, then bad ideas will nevertheless continue to circulate and possibly gain credence from their suppression.

    Holocaust denial is a good example of how that process works. Making speech a crime drives it underground. And then from time to time it surfaces. But the validity of the idea never gets tested. All that happens is that without examination of the historical record, the speaker or idea is labelled and treated as being criminal.

    The right wing Jewish Lobby never deals with the issue of truth, satisfied with a prosecution and with ridiculing the speaker. The speaker becomes a victim of "liberal democracy" and his/her prosecution shows that democracy often does not live up to being very liberal.

    The Lobby has a symbiotic relationship with Holocaust deniers. The Lobby and the speaker need each other. The speaker gives the Lobby oxygen to keep alive the memory of the Holocaust and creates the image of the Lobby being forever vigilant and effective in dealing with its own potential persecution. The speaker needs the Lobby to create widespread publicity he/she would not otherwise enjoy and his/her prosection confirms his/her secondary thesis that Holocaust denial is suppressed as a matter of policy in Western democracies.

    For anyone who has studied even a little bit of the history of WWII and the persecution of European Jewry, Holocaust deniers are intellectual crazies. To prosecute them as if their ideas have merit only gives them the halo of the wrongly persecuted minority.

    It is ironic that the tools of the Inquisition with its aim of suppressing Spanish Jewry should today be used,

    albeit in a milder form, by Australian Jewry.

    The memory of the Jewish Holocaust is an important Israeli cultural industry, amplified by right wing disaporan Jewry in Australia, the United States and in Europe. Hollywood's movie industry, heavily populated with successful "liberal" Jews churns out either a Holocaust movie every couple of years or finds a way to give an award to a movie with a Holocaust theme, no matter how undeserved it might be. Polanski's Directorial Academy Award for "The Pianist" is a good example. "The Boy in the Striped Pajamas" is only a current example of the plethora of movies with such a background. Thomas Keneally has made a mint out of the Industry—- even writing a play about how he found out about the famous "list" and getting it up on the boards in a theatre in Washington DC that only produces plays with Jewish themes.

    The Industry has developed a well understood censorial by product where anyone who thinks of criticizing it, doesn't do it, exercising self restraint or self-censorship. Antony, as a prominent Australian Jew, is to be congratulated for not capitulating to this well understood stricture in the Australian Jewish community.

    Of course, when the Industry is attacked head on, as Professor Finklesteint did in his book "The Holocaust Industry", then one of the chieftains of the Industry, and otherwise prominent civil libertarian, Alan Dershowitz, swings into action and mounts a national campaign to deny the author tenure at a Catholic University in the US.

    "The speaker or writer of wrong ideas must be punished" has become the catch cry of modern right wing Jewry. It manifests itself not only in the prosecution of Toben, but also in the almost daily murder, harassment and prosecution of Israelis peacefully protesting against government policies towards Palestinians.

    It is useful to have a discussion of the extent of killing that went on in the German camps and what the machinery and mentality was that created those killing camps. Not only to re-discover the truth, but also to learn and compare what happen then to what is happening today— in Iraq, in Guantanamo and in the large prison camp of Gaza.

    One comment on Antony's piece refers to the Jewish populations in Germany. What the commentator does not do is to include in the total Jews killed the millions of Jews from eastern Europe: Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Russia,etc. Why the Jewish Lobby never wants to engage in a discussion of the actual amount escapes me.

    The genocides of Armenia, Cambodia, Ruanda, Serbia and mass deaths and killings in WWII in Russia and Eastern Europe do not get ventilated in the same way as the Jewish Holocaust. That is largely because there are no lobbies comparable to the Jewish Holocaust Lobby.

    The Lobby's organizing ability is formidable: Museums in Sydney and Melbourne, in Washington DC, Berlin — all either devoted to Holocaust remembrance or with a major emphasis on it. In Australia with a Jewish population of only about 100,000 it is a real testament to the Lobby's organizing ability. Especially when one looks around the country and finds no such comparable museum commemorates the mass murder and killings of the continent's original inhabitants, the Aboriginals.

    The persecution of Toben is wrong. It is counteproductive and all good civil libertarians who might disagree with Toben and not share his belief as a Holocaust denier should nevertheless, defend his right to say it. To not speack out is to tolerate the suppression of free speech, and if one day they come for you because you didn't speak out, don't be surprised. You had it coming.

  • Kevin Bray

    The Holocaust was obscene and no condemnation can be too strong. But what puzzles me is how anyone who knows anything of the gruesome detail of the Nazi treatment of Jews in Germany, Poland, etc, can fail to see direct parallels with Israel's treatment of Palestinians since 1948 right up to the present time – think, for example, of the horrors of the Warsaw Ghetto and then try to "explain" the ghettoisation of the Palestinian Territories. It is well known that, at the individual level, those who have been abused as children are often themselves abusers as adults. Is this what has happened at the national level to Israel?

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