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.

The view from Gaza

My latest column for New Matilda features on the ground reporting from Gaza:

Six months after the Israeli offensive in Gaza, Antony Loewenstein went to see how its people are coping under Israel’s continuing blockade

The no-man’s land you must cross to get from Israel into Gaza is a 500-metre stretch of sand. We — myself and the porter helping with my bags — walked along it, between bombed buildings on both sides of the road. When I reached the Hamas checkpoint, my passport was briefly checked and my cases looked over, and I was inside. Compared to this, Israel felt like another planet.

The drive from the checkpoint into Gaza City, a relatively short distance, quickly reminded me that I was in Hamas-controlled territory. The group’s flags flapped in the wind. Buildings had Arabic writings spray-painted across their fronts. The rubble-strewn roads were littered with rubbish and broken up by speed humps. The place looked old and broken (photos of my visit are here, and a mini-documentary is here).

There are good reasons for this disrepair. Ever since Hamas pre-empted a US-backed Fatah coup in 2007 and violently assumed control in Gaza, the Western powers have backed Israel’s blockade of the Strip. Although small amounts of cement will soon be allowed to enter, the lack of raw materials, especially since the December-January onslaught, has left the territory in a state of decay.

I met an engineer who was building the area’s first clay school for disabled children because cement, smuggled through tunnels from Egypt, was prohibitively expensive. He was defiant. “If Israel destroys this again next year, we will rebuild, as long as Jerusalem is occupied.”

Scenes of destruction are common. The Parliament building was bombed during the war and sits idle in the centre of the city. Israeli missiles struck the interior ministry and the huge structure has yet to be repaired.

While many suburbs feature pulverised homes, in places like Jabaliya entire neighbourhoods are flattened, their families living in tents and in their ruined homes. As we sat sheltering from the searing heat, one father, Majed Alathamma, told me that he used to live and work with Israelis in the years before 2000, but now he hated them for what they did to his livelihood and to his house. This wasn’t a visceral, irrational hatred, but a response to a war which was — despite attempts by the Zionist community to deflect attention from serious allegations about the conduct of Israel’s attack — vicious.

It was impossible to avoid discussion of the Fatah-Hamas split. Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh said last week in Rafah that any further negotiations with Fatah would stall while the US-backed Ramallah government continued to support the ongoing siege of Gaza.

Many people I spoke to hoped that ideologues on both sides would stop stalling and reconcile as quickly as possible. The Palestinian cause is being undeniably harmed by the Ramallah-Gaza separation, although right now it’s hard to imagine a unity government while the sides are actively working against each other.

Although I heard about bombings and shootings almost every day in Gaza between Fatah and Hamas, I didn’t feel personally threatened. Most people I met were welcoming, generous, kind, fairly despondent but sometimes a little hopeful. Although farmers still experience regular Israeli incursions into their territory, I noted little generalised hatred towards Jews. One resident of East Maghazi, Jamal, told me how the Israelis had first destroyed his home in January then stolen the roots of a 100-year-old sycamore tree his grandfather used to value for the shade it cast. He was sure that the tree would soon appear in a Jewish settlement in the West Bank.

I wanted to investigate claims that Hamas was imposing an increasingly intolerant form of Islam in Gaza. There is growing evidence that roving groups of Hamas supporters are launching an Islamic “virtue” campaign to convince women to dress more modestly and shopkeepers to remove female mannequins from their windows. An honour killing last week was a worrying development in fundamentalism.

Except in expensive hotels on the beachfront, it is rare to see a woman not wearing some version of hijab, and some go as far as wearing the more concealing niqab. But many women with whom I spoke were not particularly concerned with the current Hamas campaign. This isn’t to say they might not be in time, but Gazans are highly educated, though conservative, and do not want their community to resemble Tehran or Riyadh.

Discussion about possible political solutions often seemed oddly irrelevant in a time and place where finding cooking oil and petrol are far more important priorities. I was surprised with the number of people, including Hamas Deputy Foreign Minister and former adviser to Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, Dr Ahmed Yousef, who talked about a two-state future and couldn’t imagine living in the same nation as Jews after so many years of conflict. In other words, a future country designed along the 1967 borders.

It should be noted, however, that when I met Dr Haider Eid, a leading proponent of a one-state solution, he assured me that public support for such a move was steadily increasing. He had just spoken to a packed auditorium in Rafah a few days before we met and said Hamas officials, students and general public were receptive to thinking past the “Oslo-izing” of the Palestinian mind, and the paralysis brought on by years of fruitless negotiations between Fatah and Israel and absolutely nothing to show for it except an ever-deeper occupation.

Support for Hamas in Gaza is impossible to measure accurately (and countless people told me that opinion polls were notoriously unreliable) but the faithful certainly heaped praise on Prime Minister Haniyeh when I saw him lead Friday prayers in the city of Khan Yunis. He was greeted with cheers, surrounded by beefy and bearded Hamas security officers, and launched into a 50-minute tirade against the occupation, arguing for a two-state solution with the right of return. He left the mosque as a crush of supporters screamed praise for him in Arabic. The response was similar at another rally in the city later that day, which was one of the first public Hamas rallies since Israel’s attack, where Haniyeh spoke before thousands of men, women and children, as Haniyeh addressed a Khan Yunis crowd.

The overwhelming sense of visiting a place that had been forgotten by the outside world haunted my entire visit. One afternoon I lectured at the Islamic University in Gaza City for students of journalism and English. They asked me why the world had allowed Israel’s bombardment in January and why Palestinians were so demonised in the Western world. I said that public debate was shifting and Palestinian voices were increasingly heard in the media. Palestinians still needed to improve their public relations, I said, especially when competing in the public arena against Israel’s well-funded spin. The lecturer, journalist and academic Rami Almagheri, agreed and later argued with the students to try and convince them that partisan reporting by their own side was not helping their cause, and was in fact the enemy of the Palestinian people.

From what I saw, Hamas has not been weakened. Meanwhile the people of Gaza are relying even more heavily on the tunnels that snake their way from Egypt into Gaza to bring in all manner of essential products to get past Israel’s criminal blockade. Exactly how people can survive under those conditions is now turning into a kind of horrible experiment.

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