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.

Gaza: flattened, occupied, sick and rootless

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

During a conversation last night in Gaza with a group of 20-something male students, the issue of homosexuality came up. These were university-educated, Muslim men with relatively liberal attitudes but accepting a gay lifestyle was a complete anathema to them. “It’s disgusting,” one said, a Fatah loyalist and opponent of Hamas.

We sat and talked alongside Gaza City’s beach, a beautifully peaceful place with a Hamas wedding being celebrated nearby to the MC-led, Western soundtrack. “Jump”, “jump”, “jump”, screamed the music.

The Gaza Strip, under siege for over three years by Israel and the Western powers, is utterly unlike anywhere I’ve ever visited. Over 70% unemployment, garbage strewn across many streets and in abandoned buildings, a thriving tunnel business from Egypt that brings in the essentials of life and Hamas gunmen on most street corners directing traffic and keeping cool in the searing heat.

The main image in the West of Gaza is of a fundamentalist Islamic regime bent on Israel’s destruction. Although there are worrying signs of an increasing intolerance of difference  — witness the news that sharia law and a kind of Muslim code of conduct may soon be implemented here — Hamas is a broad church. The reality on the ground is removed from virtually everything I read before crossing the border.

The Hamas Deputy Foreign Minister and former adviser to Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, Dr Ahmed Yousef, told me in his high-rise office building, overlooking an Israeli-destroyed, Hamas home and the deep blue ocean, that his group was becoming more pragmatic and now embraced the two-state solution with Israel. He was pessimistic that the Jewish state would ever agree to completely cease and reverse the illegal settlements in the West Bank. If not, he explained, “resistance” had to continue.

I came principally to talk to the Gazan people. Yesterday I spent time at El-Wafa hospital, the only rehabilitation centre in Gaza and situated very close to the Israeli border. During the recent war, Israeli missiles struck two, unfinished wards. Akram al-Sattari, the head of planning, told me that officials there received countless requests of assistance from poor and needy families on a daily basis. Some need therapeutic work and others orthopaedic surgeries. I saw a man in a coma, his legs missing and stomach mangled, lying in a bed with his eyes and mouth wide open. There were literally thousands of similar patients across Gaza, mostly refused entry to Israel or Egypt to receive essential care.

The effects of Israel’s December/January bombardment are pervasive. The town of Jabaliya was flattened in parts by Israeli missiles and shells. It’s a ghost town, with a few families living in tents and the ruins of their homes and donkeys and young boys carrying rubble piece by piece to be sold or re-used.

Majed Alathanma, a 60-year-old father, lost his well-appointed home and taxi business in a barrage one day. He told me that he had personally seen Israeli troops open fire on civilians and drivers carrying dead bodies to be buried. These allegations are borne out in the recent report by IDF soldiers of the “Breaking the Silence” group. I have heard so many similar stories, all completely unverifiable, but consistent in their detail and callousness.

Homes cannot be re-built with cement because Israel bans its import. The Strip’s first clay building for disabled children is the first of many experiments in this now necessary skill. The engineer said that the Palestinians could keep on re-building as long as the Israelis continued destroying. Such despondency wasn’t uncommon, though surprising was the hope that co-existence with Israel wasn’t only important but essential. I’ve heard very few comments against Jews themselves.

Despair, depression, sexual dysfunction, bed-wetting (for children and adults) and lethargy are common complaints, a number of psychologists have told me. Students are refused exit permits to study abroad. Teachers can’t improve their skills with native English speakers. Journalists are trapped between dedication to truth-telling and battles with Hamas officials over what version of events should be published.

In the small village of East Maghazi, near the Israeli border, a farmer told me a story that seemed to encapsulate the sense of humiliation that infects this conflict. After the Israelis bulldozed his home without warning in early January, along with killing some of his live-stock, they returned to steal the roots of a 100 year-old sycamore tree, a shady covering used by his grandfather in decades past. The roots would undoubtedly be re-planted in Israel as a way to eradicate the Palestinian connection to the land.

This is the real meaning of occupation.

2 comments ↪
  • Thank you for the report that we all need to hear.

  • Therese

    Excellent work, and unlike most articles from the area, you go beyond the surface. Thank you for reporting a diversity of views.

    It is crushing to think of the suffering in Gaza. But we must retain hope for better days in the future.