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.

On the ground in Gaza, hopes for peace still flicker

My following article is published in the Middle East newspaper, The National:

Kamal Awaja lost his son in the recent Gaza war. He claims that Israeli soldiers murdered his child in front of his eyes before shooting his wife and himself in the leg, chest and arm. Today he lives with his large family in a tent in Beit Lahiya in northern Gaza, trying to provide a sense of normality for his children by tending a vegetable patch and constructing a small, plastic swimming pool.

Despite his hardships and antipathy towards the state of Israel, he told me in July that he still believed in a two-state solution and expressed no hatred for Jews in our hour-long conversation. “I don’t like speeches [by Muslim clerics] about killing Jews.”

Life in Gaza remains a daily ordeal for its 1.5 million citizens. The massive destruction of buildings and infrastructure remains largely untouched since the end of the war. Neighbourhoods lie flattened with families sleeping in the rubble of their former homes. I saw babies and young children lying on mattresses under crushed roofs. Engineers are now building clay structures due to the lack of cheap cement because Israel bans the material from being imported.

The western-backed siege had forced virtually every person I met to utilise and support the tunnels on the border with Egypt. Hamas controls this lifeline and imports everything from cars and shampoo to fish and underwear.

Unemployment is close to 80 per cent; I lost count of the number of men who told me their wives begged them to leave home every day. “Fifteen hundred people were killed during the war,” one resident, Nafez al Dabba, said. “But more babies than that have been born since because there is nothing to do.”

People like Mr al Dabba and his son Mohammed confounded my expectations about attitudes in Gaza and indicated a deep desire for some kind of normalised relations with Israel. Mohammed al Dabba, a militant who fires rockets into Israel and treats all Israeli civilians as legitimate targets, said he still supported a two-state solution, the right of return and enforcement of 1967 borders. He said he rejected the “extremism” of Hamas. But, like his father, he had no faith that Israel would stop building settlements. “Now [Israel] is even telling America to get lost.”

Bleak prospects are certainly breeding extremism in the Strip. Mid-August’s showdown in Rafah between Hamas and the al Qa’eda-affiliated group Jund Ansar Allah was only the beginning. I heard from various sources in Gaza, including the BBC Arabic reporter Shahdi al Kashif, that extremist organisations were thriving under the siege imposed by Israel and Egypt. These groups are not yet powerful enough to mount an effective challenge, but they remain frustrated with Hamas’s increasing willingness to engage with the international community.

Hamas has been conducting a vigorous public relations campaign to foster relations with the outside world emphasising pragmatism over militancy, according to a recent New York Times report.

Dr Ahmed Yousef, Hamas’s deputy foreign minister, said his group had made recent gains and now desired a viable two-state solution. He also warned that “resistance” would continue if progress was not made in the near future.

“Hamas is now showing ideological flexibility as a political player”, he said. “The way we speak about our vision of a Palestinian state in 1967 borders is that we’re in power and have to look at the international community, not just the street’s opinion as when we were only a movement.”

This shift in strategy has barely been acknowledged by Israel, the United States or the members of the Quartet.

Hamas’s own growing Islamisation programme runs parallel with its crackdown on extremist groups. Although there in not an official policy, there is a creeping move towards a stricter interpretation of Sharia, as shop-owners are urged to remove female mannequins from windows and women instructed to wear the hijab and loose fitting clothing in public. During my visit, I saw people told not to wear T-shirts with “inflammatory” English words and phrases, including the name of the singer Madonna. When Imad Aqel, an action-packed ideological film that marked Hamas’s debut in the “cinema of resistance”, premiered in Gaza in early August, men and women sat in separate sections of the theatre.

Not everybody appears to be listening however. Hamas recently told Gaza’s most popular hip-hop group, Darg Team, that they couldn’t perform in public, but they were unfazed. They continue to rap about the occupation, politics, religion and right of return.

Darg Team’s manager Fadi Srour said the group would perform in Israel if they had the chance. “Every society has good and bad and we want to reach people directly,” he said. “We’d love to perform in the Knesset.”

Certainly devastation, psychological trauma and anger in Gaza are still very real. The Hamas and Fatah split looms over political discussions, with ideologues on both sides appearing to hold back a national unity government.

It was refreshing, though, to find so many besieged voices still seeking peace after the recent war and shocking hardship. But it remains up to Israel whether that peace will have a chance.

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

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