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.

Is the Islamic Republic soon to be struck?

Jeffrey Goldberg has a feeling he’d like to share:

John Bolton thinks Israel might strike Iran before the end of the year. So do I, for what it’s worth. I sense a growing feeling among some Israeli analysts that a strike is almost inevitable.

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How many elephants would the NYTs like to ignore in the Mid-East?

It’s a real achievement by the New York Times to write an editorial about the Middle East peace process without mentioning Hamas or Gaza.

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Letter from Gaza: Keep off the grass

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

Freelance journalist and author Antony Loewenstein writes from inside Gaza:

The American International School in Gaza was bombed on 3 January, completely destroying the institution. Today it is a twisted wreck of concrete, metal and burnt vans. Surreally, when I visited a few days ago I found two green, grass ovals being watered by a highly effective sprinkler system. Sheep were grazing on the unused land.

Two students of the school, Mohammed Samhadane and Walid Abuzaid, both 13, are like many pimply faced kids all over the world; addicted to violent video games and smoking cigarettes. They told me that like their friends they wanted peace with Israel but believed the state had no desire to negotiate honestly with the Palestinians, especially after the recent Gaza massacre. Politically aware, sceptical towards the claims of Hamas to represent the Palestinian people (they came from Fatah families) and Western-friendly, they resigned themselves to the idea that things might change soon. Maybe.

This attitude has followed me across the Strip. From farmers to Hamas spokespeople and militants to academics, there is a little hope, but only because the alternative is despair and extremism. In a land such as this, where daily life is consumed with finding petrol, a job and respite from the searing heat, politics seeps into every facet of life. I’m yet to meet anybody who doesn’t want to share opinions on the Hamas/Fatah split or President Barack Obama (usually a positive comment that he’s not George W. Bush then dismissal of his chances to change the equation here.)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu may believe that the people of Gaza despise the Hamas leadership and want to overthrow its rule but the picture is not that simple. The growing Islamisation of society concerns many Gazans — today I was given a list Hamas is distributing that urges parents not to allow children to wear t-shirts that contain words such as, “Madonna” and “Hussy” — but security has greatly improved since the group took over in 2007.

During Friday prayers in Khan Younis last week, I witnessed thousands of Hamas supporters cheer Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh and embrace his message of a devout Islamic society (though he also talked about a Palestinian state along 1967 borders, the internationally acceptable solution to the conflict.) Young men and boys, some devout and some more liberal, clearly found meaning in a movement that deftly melded faith with politics. I was nearly crushed in a push by the crowd to get close to Haniyeh as he departed the mosque.

Unemployment now defines the Gazan population; tens of thousands of Palestinian Authority staff still pull a regular income from the West Bank but are directed by Fatah not to work in Gaza under Hamas. I’ve lost count of the number of men who tell me their wives are begging them to leave home during the day. “1500 people were killed during the war”, one man, Nafez Aldabba, told me, “but more babies than that have been born since because there is nothing to do except sleep, eat and have s-x.”

People like Nafez and his son Mohammed confounded my expectations about attitudes in the Strip and indicated a deep desire in Gaza for some kind of normalised relations with Israel. Mohammed, a militant who fires rockets into Israel and treats all Israeli civilians as legitimate targets, told me that he still supported a two-state solution, the right of return and enforcement of 1967 borders.

He rejected the “extremism” of Hamas. But like his father, he had no faith that Israel would ever end settlement building “and now is even telling America to get lost.”

I rarely hear any hateful comments towards Jews. A few have asked whether public opinion in Australia was supportive of the Palestinians (I replied that recent polls suggest that they are.)

Even farmers with little education stressed their embrace of “all religions” but opposition to Zionism. Hazem Balousha, a Gazan-based journalist who strings for the London Guardian, told me that he believes Israel doesn’t want to overthrow Hamas but merely strangle the economy.

“Most people are fed-up”, he said. “They don’t really care too much about politics but have to focus on getting electricity, cooking gas and how to feed the family every day. They only care about themselves.”

Gaza’s biggest rap group, Darg Team, were a breath of fresh air (their latest single, 23 Days, details the carnage during January’s war.) Six twenty-somethings, with matching white trainers, riff on religion, culture, honour, occupation and the right of return. I asked manager Fadi Srour whether they would perform in Israel.

“We’d like to”, he responded. “Every society has good and bad and we want to reach people directly. We’d love to perform in the Knesset.”

Under Hamas, the band has been unofficially banned but they say they’ll continue performing anyway, going underground, if necessary.

Antony Loewenstein is a freelance journalist and the author of My Israel Question and The Blogging Revolution.

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Stories from Gaza

My following video and article appears on Mondoweiss:

The Western view of Gaza is of a desperate and violent place. Terrorism, extremism, Jew-hatred and poverty merge to create a dangerous brew. The Hamas-controlled territory poses a supposedly existential threat to Israel (and Jews everywhere.) But this is only one side of the besieged Strip. And much of it is blatantly untrue.

This video is an attempt to paint an alternative Gaza. Hatred exists there – I saw and heard it and challenged the conflation of Israel with Judaism – but what I found was something else entirely. Entire neighbourhoods flattened by Israeli missiles. Destroyed buildings with families living inside them. Refugee camps caused by IDF incursions. Beautiful singing and poetry sung by eager men. A will to survive and thrive despite the belief that the world, including the Arab neighbours, have forgotten their plight. Rappers desperate to tell the Palestinian narrative to the world and reflect a Gazan sensibility.

Take my interview with Fatah-aligned militants. I was taken to an unfinished house on the outskirts of Gaza City. The room was nearly bare, with a bed and mattress and web-enabled computer. The militant, an 18-year-old, whose father sat near us proudly and explained why he supported his son’s actions, was circumspect. He said he fired rockets into Israel and monitored Israeli troop positions. I asked whether he regarded IDF and civilian targets in the same way. He did. “Every Israeli serves in the army”, he said. I told him that some Israelis opposed the occupation, the war against Palestinians and actively helped Palestinians protect their lands. Did he care, I wondered, that he might kill these Jews, as well? He paused and reflected and finally said that it would be a shame, but he was fighting occupation.

Desperate times cause desperate actions. I met countless generous individuals who wanted me to share their stories with the outside. I lectured at the Islamic University earlier this week to a group of English and journalism students. I explained my work, the realities and failures of the Western media and my own impressions of Gaza. They all wanted to know why Palestinians were dehumanised and how their image could be improved. Jamil Al Asmar, a professor of English at the university, reminded me that the Israelis bombed the facility during the recent war. “Anybody who bombs institutions are not human”, he said. “Tell the world that we are human, just like they [the Israelis] are human.” His voice quivered when he spoke.

I’ve written recently about the overwhelming issues in the Strip. The growing Islamisation causes concern. It’s both visible and worrying. Hamas is now distributing posters that warn of the dangers of smoking, internet usage, television and drugs. The group is circulating a list that urges parents not to allow children to wear t-shirts that contain words such as, “Madonna” and “Flirt”. Journalist Fares Akram told me that he worried many Gazans were too pre-occupied with their own problems that they wouldn’t complain that Hamas was demanding female mannequins be removed from shop windows. It is a slow but deliberate implementation of sharia.

But this film isn’t a political statement; it documents some of what I saw and experienced in July 2009. I carried a small camera to take pictures of those I interviewed but I was also able to capture some video. These are short vignettes that aim to paint a moment, a feeling of a state under siege. People were angry, resilient and despondent. I didn’t feel threatened during my visit and welcomed the warm embrace that nearly everybody showered in my direction. A friendly Western face that wants to listen is hard to find in Gaza.

Nafez Abu Shaban, head of the burns unit at Al Shifa Hospital, nearly choked on his own words when describing what his people went through in the December/January onslaught. “It was not a war, it was a Holocaust”, he said. Palestinian doctors were faced with burns and injuries they had never seen before, such as the use of white phosphorous, and had to rely on foreigners and the web to discover how to treat them. “We felt alone.”

They are not.

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The Jews who whinge for (often) questionable reasons

Has anti-Semitism risen in Britain, especially after the Gaza war?

And how accurate are the Jewish organisations reporting on the supposed increase?

Australian blog Bureau of Counter-Propaganda takes a look.

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My kind of Jews get together

Self-hating Jews, sign up for the ultimate test: do you hate yourself enough?

Joseph Dana investigates.

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Obama is like Bush, say settlers

Sign during a pro-settler rally, Jerusalem, 29 July 2009:

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What we don’t hear in Palestine

Checkpoint 303 is found music, fragments, reflections and beats from the Palestinian occupied territories:

The electronic experiment kicked off in 2004 when tunisian sound cutter SC MoCha teamed up with Bethlehem based palestinian sound catcher SC Yosh to form Checkpoint 303. The idea was to cut, track, fragment and reconstruct the audio soundscape from daily lives in the middle east. new audio reporting on injustice. Paris-based SC MoCha reworks the field recordings made by SC Yosh in the occupied territories into rhythmical transcriptions that range from raw acoustic aggression to synthetic soothing tunes with everything in between.

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Don’t suck the Obama lolly

Ali Abunimah on the illusion of the Messiah, aka Barack Obama:

The Obama administration has used up its first six months negotiating a settlement freeze with Israel (with little to show). At this rate, how long would it take to negotiate the core issues in the century-long conflict resulting from the Zionist effort to transform an almost entirely Arab (Muslim and Christian) country, into a “Jewish state” with a permanent Jewish majority?

The constant focus on process and gimmicks — like trying to get Arab states to normalize ties with Israel — has obscured the reality that Obama’s stated goal — a workable two-state solution — is almost certainly unachievable. The idea of separating Palestinians and Israelis into distinct ethno-national entities has become an article of faith within peace process circles, but rarely are its supporters asked to justify why a “solution” that has eluded them for decades has any merit.

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At least somebody in Israel is against the colonies

A new video from Israeli group Peace Now on the issue of illegal settlements:

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Why us Jews do what we do

Joseph Dana and Mairav Zonszein, activists and friends in Jerusalem, are interviewed by Jew School on their incendiary and important video reports on mainstream Israeli attitudes:

I never referred to myself as an activist as I feel like it is a bit of a dirty, dismissive word. Don’t get me wrong, Ta’ayush is engaged in a form of activism. As an Israeli-American concerned with the conflict and firmly against the occupation I was drawn to Ta’ayush because of the inclusion of voices and viewpoints. I feel that most of the organizations and groups on the ground are deeply mired in rigid ideological viewpoints. Ta’ayush, while clearly against the occupation, does not make solid claims on ideology or long term goals. Instead we focus on direct action week after week. Furthermore, as an Israeli Jew, I think that it is important to work with fellow Israelis that want to break down barriers between Palestinians and Israelis, as opposed to simply fueling anti-Israeli rhetoric like other anti-occupation groups tend to do.

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The true barrier to peace is here

The New York Times reports on the crazy, West Bank settler movement:

At the Neria outpost celebration, Noam Rein, a father of 10, looked out across the hills at Ramallah and called its presence “temporary.”

He added: “The Torah says the land of Israel is for the Jewish people. This is just the beginning. We will build 1,000 homes here. The Arabs cannot stay here, not because we hate them, but because this is not their place.”

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