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.

These are not the conditions for peace

My latest column for New Matilda is about the realities on the ground here in the Middle East:

In Palestine and Israel, Antony Loewenstein is finding that facts on the ground offer little hope for any solution soon, despite optimism elsewhere that change is on the way

A few nights ago in Jerusalem I met with some of the few peace activists in Israel. Members of the group Ta’ayush, young and old, sat and discussed politics and the future of the Jewish state. Their prognosis was mostly pretty grim.

Joseph Dana, an Israeli Jewish American who moved here a few years ago, said that he saw no hope because the occupation was so deeply entrenched and only growing in size. “Israel is a country directed by the military”, he told me, “a dictatorship with relative freedom of speech, but virtually no debate about the behaviour of the IDF.” He seemed to despise Israeli society itself: the racism, the bubble in the major cities and the abuses committed by the IDF. He desperately wanted to hope, I think, that Jews could somehow change things from within, but “sometimes I believe we’re not changing anything at all,” he said.

Another activist, Mickey, who had previously served as a commander in the territories, was more hopeful. He said it was positive that Likud and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had finally uttered the words “two-state solution”. He said he would never leave Israel, despite having an American passport, because he wanted to remain and improve the society. He was saddened to hear Dana’s despondency.

Yakov, another member there who described himself as having formerly been a “fascist”, told me that his society was sick with delusion and racism and that weekly actions in the West Bank, protecting Palestinians or confronting settlers, was the only way to keep sane and make a difference.

Certainly activists like Yakov are doing something, and the effect of their actions may be greater than it appears, but right now the power of the Israeli Left more broadly is at a real low, and in party-political terms the Left is virtually insignificant. Nobel Peace Prize nominee Jeff Halper told me a few days ago that there was profound disorganisation between the various peace groups, little or no co-ordination and apathy and exhaustion.

I was last in Israel and Palestine in 2005 and four years has made a colossal difference. Hatred of Palestinians is on the rise — witness Max Blumenthal’s latest video on the phenomenon (which may be hard to view on Blumenthal’s blog due to the site’s having apparently reached its “banwidth limit”, perhaps as a result of its popularity). Similarly astounding is a recent Israeli mobile phone advertisement, demonstrating how effectively Israeli citizens have been kept in the dark about the worst excesses of their own colonial expansion.

Even the somewhat positive signs from the new US Administration are all significantly undercut by what’s actually happening in the area. US President Barack Obama met with many Jewish American leaders this week and told them that Israel must “engage in serious self-reflection” if his stated goal of a two-state solution is to be reached. It’s a nice sentiment, but it has no connection to facts on the ground — one of those facts being the continuing problems associated with the US-backed and internally divided factions within the Palestinian political elite.

If a two-state solution is supposed to be the best hope we have, it’s not looking like much hope at all at the moment, for many reasons. Jonathan Cook writes in the National that colonial dependency is being fostered between the Palestinian Authority, Israel and Washington, “creating a culture of absolute Israeli control and absolute Palestinian dependency, enforced by proxy Palestinian rulers acting as mini-dictatorships.” It is an illusion of independence.

I’ve been struck during my time here by the profound disconnect between the attitudes and delusions of many in the West versus the realities in Israel and Palestine. It’s a conflict mired in myths, not least the one that credits the “security wall” with saving Israeli lives, when, in fact, the truth is far murkier.

The difficulty of even imagining a viable peace treaty under these conditions was clear during my visit this week to many West Bank settlements and outposts. They are dotted across the landscape, expanding and stealing Palestinian land. They are largely backed by the state and tacitly supported by the vast majority of the Zionist Diaspora. All of the earnest conversations currently going on over the possibility of a two-state solution are not going to move them by themselves.

One of the places I visited was on Palestinian land next to the settlement of Susya in the southern West Bank. I was accompanying some Ta’ayush activists, and the plan was to have a picnic in the middle of an illegal outpost. The outpost on a hill featured a synagogue (thrown together with sticks), in the knowledge that the IDF are reluctant to knock such structures down, and a house with a cement base. It is not currently inhabited by settlers, but is protected by IDF soldiers stationed nearby. The buildings, erected on private Palestinian land, are illegal under both Israeli and international law.

Around 20 of us climbed the small mound, unfurled plastic sheets on the summit and pulled out watermelon, hummus and frozen drinks. It was a non-violent, though provocative, act in the middle of a colony. The IDF soon appeared, declared the area a “closed military zone” and instructed us to leave or we would be arrested. The activists clapped and cheered and kept on eating and drinking. The point of the event was to film the proceedings, spread the world on the web and hope that embarrassment over the illegal outpost would oblige Israel to address the situation properly.

The IDF soon moved in, nabbed a few activists and forced the rest of us to retreat. It was surreal watching a 50-something Israeli academic being dragged away with a slice of watermelon still in his hand. Video of the action can be seen at Dana’s site.

A few hours later the activists visited another illegal outpost near the settlement Kiryat Arba and met a handful of religious fundamentalist teenagers with sparse moustaches inhabiting a hut made of tin and plastic and sitting on decrepit couches. Although this time the IDF finally forced the settlers to temporarily leave their outpost, the activists told me that this is a regular game played like kabuki theatre. As soon as the activists leave the area, the settlers will return, in as little as 10 or 15 minutes. The outpost has already been “demolished” a number of times.

How to establish peace in these circumstances is beyond me. I spoke this week to Palestinian journalist Ata Qaymari, once jailed by the Israelis for 15 years in the 1970s and 1980s for resisting the occupation. Today, however, he supports a two-state solution, arguing a one-state answer is an illusion that would only foster further hatred. He now runs a business daily translating Hebrew media into Arabic. He told me that the divisions between Fatah and Hamas, the expanding colonies and the rampant racism in Israeli society and newspapers makes any settlement years away, if ever.

“We will continue to live here and we will survive”, he said. “There will not be a solution, we will continue to suffer. This country is one of continuous suffering and war.”

It was a horribly bleak picture, but completely understandable. If there is to be hope then it must be founded in reality, not wishful thinking or pretty speeches. And that reality needs to include a Palestinian perspective also. Far too often at the moment, the Palestinians aren’t even being consulted about the settlement question and building permits in the West Bank. It’s a conversation being conducted between Washington and Israel.

Optimism is in short supply in the not-so-Holy Land.

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