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 blockade is great for al-Qaeda

My latest New Matilda column is about the growing militancy in Gaza:

The recent shootout in a Gaza mosque has highlighted the way Israel’s blockade of the strip radicalises people and encourages terrorism, writes Antony Loewenstein

Gaza is facing yet another threat exacerbated by the ongoing Israeli siege: Islamic fundamentalism.

In mid August, 24 people died in a bloody gun battle between Hamas and the Jund Ansar Allah (“Soldiers of the Followers of God”) group in a Rafah mosque. The group’s leader, Abdul-Latif Moussa, reprtedly killed himself using a suicide belt and more than 100 people were injured over the course of the battle. Hamas said that it launched the crackdown on the group after Moussa announced an “Islamic emirate” in Gaza, directly challenging the elected government’s rule. Hamas accused the US-backed Fatah and Arab states of being behind the militants, supporting them as part of an attempt to destabilise the Strip.

The clash was hardly surprising. I heard during my time in Gaza that a growing number of Islamists were frustrated with attempts by Hamas to discuss engagement with the international community. For them, resistance means no compromise in the face of ongoing Israeli attacks. BBC journalist Shahdi Alkashif told me that he regularly spoke to Islamic extremists in Gaza and they were thriving under the siege. He acknowledged they were a tiny minority, but noted that a lack of political progress only adds strength to their challenge of Hamas’s current strategy. Such militants ask Gazans, why even bother trying to negotiate with Israel and Washington when resistance could achieve far more?

My fixer in Gaza, a Fatah man, knew some of the family members of another militant group in Gaza, the “Army of Islam”, which kidnapped the BBC journalist Alan Johnson in 2007. They still exist — Gaza is run and controlled by a clan and family system — so destroying whole groups militarily is next to impossible. In order to present a coherent unified, and credible face as a negotiating partner, Hamas has imposed a tight grip on the Strip and doesn’t tolerate challenges to its authority from groups like these.

But from Hamas’s point of view, this strategy hasn’t paid off yet. Barack Obama remains deaf to the Hamas overtures. Amr Hamzawy and Jeffrey Christiansen who work at the Carnegie Middle East Centre in Beirut, wrote in this week’s National newspaper that, “the US must realise that excluding Hamas cannot possibly advance the peace process beyond the status quo”.

There is little evidence (at least not in public) to indicate that Washington understands this reality and has noted the Hamas leadership’s consistent calls for a viable two-state solution. Countless Hamas figures told me the same thing in Gaza. The destruction of Israel was out, and some kind of co-existence was in, but the right to “resist” Israeli aggression was a legitimate condition to these pronouncements.

Some of the international media coverage of the shoot-out between Hamas and the allegedly al Qaeda aligned group accused Hamas of committing a “massacre”. Yet as Orly Halpern pointed out, Hamas has a democratically conferred responsibility for law and order in Gaza. That means that its response was in fact no different to the response most people anywhere else would expect their own law enforcement agencies to carry out if an armed group took on the police.

As a senior Hamas minister Ahmed Yusuf told the Washington Post, “We are a liberation movement with an Islamist hue. We are not the Taliban or al Qaeda. We like law and order”. It’s an important distinction, and acknowledges Hamas’s aims of Palestinian liberation, as opposed to carrying out a generalised campaign against the West, which characterises the aims of some other Islamist organisations.

It remains difficult — or not politically expedient — for many in the West to accept that Hamas has greatly mellowed in the recent years, as it has assumed pragmatic policies towards Israel — and been slammed as collaborators by al Qaeda for doing so. They’re certainly not on Osama Bin Laden’s Ramadan card list.

New York Jewish commentator Tony Karon wrote in the National that the Hamas action against Jund Ansar Allah “won’t harm the growing recognition in the West that Hamas is an indispensable part of any peace process.”

But Karon also made an intriguing observation:

“For some Israeli commentators, the incident was a wake-up call. One of them, Nehemiah Strassler, cautioned that by destroying Yasser Arafat, Israel had brought Hamas to power, and now by its siege of Gaza it was empowering al Qaeda: ‘That’s because on our side people don’t want to understand that when the oppression increases and there is nothing to lose, the adversary doesn’t surrender and grovel. Just the opposite. He becomes more radical … so when poverty in Gaza increases and unemployment is on the rise, al Qaeda will take control … and we will long for that terrible Hamas.'”

I investigated the growth of creeping sharia in Gaza under Hamas and found worrying signs of increasing crackdowns on women and against what it was calling “vice”. While it’s hard to gauge exactly how much this shift is a response to pressure from more extreme parties present in Gaza, any perceived threat by a more militant party against Hamas’s popularity could motivate Hamas to partially mimic its excesses.

The underlying cause of these ongoing troubles is the Israeli-directed siege. It affects everyone in Gaza, shapes their days and nights, affects what they eat, trade or consume and causes profound frustration and hatred. It is an incubator of steadily growing anger.

Extremism thrives in this kind of environment.

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