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.

Survey puts Israel and Zionism under scrutiny

My following article appears in Crikey:

Monash University’s Australian Centre for Jewish Civilisation has released the preliminary findings of its survey of Australian and New Zealand Jewry in which 6200 Jewish people answered 144 questions on a variety of subjects, including anti-Semitism, Israel and Zionism, inter-marriage, education and identity. It’s the biggest study of its sort in nearly 20 years.

Thirty seven per cent of Jews are traditional, 21% secular, 19% modern orthodox, 14% progressive, 6% strictly orthodox and 3% conservative. The majority of Sydney and Melbourne Jews say they have experienced anti-Semitism, though “the term anti-Semitism was not defined in the survey, but left up to individual perception”.

The majority of Jewish families share Sabbath dinner on a regular basis, students who attend Jewish and non-Jewish schools express interest in their “Jewishness” and inter-marriage doesn’t faze anybody living in a secular home.

But the most intriguing results  — and ones already dishonestly spun by the AJN — are attitudes towards Israel and Zionism. According to this week’s AJN editorial:

Four in five Australian Jews classify themselves as Zionists and claim some type of emotional attachment to Israel. It is a figure we should take great pride in and it should finally put to rest the absurd notion pushed by the likes of Antony Loewenstein, and Jews Against the Occupation, that there is a large and silent group of Australian Jews who don’t support Israel. Perhaps the survey has unwittingly revealed that these types of people are merely self-promoters who add nothing to the Australian Jewish experience.”

Methinks they doth protest too much. In fact, the results should deeply concern the Zionist establishment.

Of the appropriately 100,000 Australian Jews, roughly 20,000 do not identity themselves as Zionist (10% say they are not Zionist and the other 10% decline to answer). One of the survey’s benefactors, Ron Goldschlager, tells the AJN that, “Zionism has a different meaning and feeling for all individuals, but broadly, it brings a sense of identity and belonging”.

But what does attachment to Zionism and Israel really mean? The survey provides no real answers, but let me suggest a few. A Zionist can be opposed to Israel’s occupation of Palestine. A Zionist can be a staunch supporter of Israel but vehemently disagree with the recent onslaught against Gaza. A Zionist can believe in engagement with Hamas. A Zionist can oppose the fundamentalist Jewish settlers in the West Bank maiming and killing Palestinian civilians. A Zionist can be thinking about embracing anti-Zionism. We simply don’t know from the information we currently have what these Zionists actually believe.

The past six months have seen a growing public debate between Israel and Washington. The latest poll in the Jerusalem Post finds that 4% of Israelis think Barack Obama is more pro-Israel than pro-Palestinian. Meanwhile, the vast majority of American Jews still back Obama’s Middle East policies. Who are the real “supporters of Israel” in these groups?

Zionist fanatics in Israel have their own understanding. “Four percent of the public evidently didn’t understand the question,” said National Union politician MK Arye Eldad. “If they did, 99.9% would say that he is extremely anti-Israel. The only Israelis who would say he is pro-Israel are those who join Fatah and call for anti-Israel boycotts.”

Independent Australian Jewish Voices blogger Michael Brull (disclosure: I’m the co-founder of the initiative) writes that the Australian results should worry, not please, the Zionist lobby (which the AJN largely supports):

Jews overwhelmingly only hear pro-Zionist (and basically right-wing Zionist) claims from all the Jewish organisations (educational, communal, spokespeople and so on). Yet a serious minority don’t trust them. Ten per cent non-Zionist is about the same as the vote the Greens get. The Greens obviously won’t win an election, but Australian politics means they get a voice and hearing. The AJN, on the other hand, thinks their equivalent is so marginal that they add nothing to the Jewish experience.”

The Monash study also highlights another growing trend. What are the realities of leftist Zionism and Judaism, who represent anywhere between 10-20% of Australian Jewry? Who are their spokespeople? Are they being ignored by the mainstream, hardline Zionist groups? Where are their voices in the media? Are all the major Zionist organisations simply repeating pro-occupation and pro-war sentiments from the Israeli state? Does the Zionist lobby continue to try and bully and silence alternative Jewish views, despite this study proving they represent a sizeable minority?

The increasing disaffection of Australian Jews towards Israel and Zionism isn’t about unrepresentative communal bodies (though it’s probably a factor). Slicker PR on the part of Jewish groups isn’t the answer. You can’t sell a sick product.

The problem is more profound. Israel is killing itself through its own actions, ignoring global opinion (something even some British Jews are acknowledging), expanding West Bank settlements, blockading Gaza and violently removing Palestinians from their homes in East Jerusalem.

The images of these actions, through the web, blogs, Al-Jazeera or even articles in the Sydney Morning Herald, are having a cumulative effect. The wider community is understandably becoming more sympathetic to the Palestinians. I’ve been hearing for years that many Jews feel distinctly uncomfortable with Israeli actions but are unsure what to do with these attitudes.

A growing minority of Australian Jews are turning off the ideology that they supposedly can’t live without.

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

4 comments ↪
  • ej

    AL ever the optimist on the hoped-for ground swell of dissent amongst those of Jewish ethnicity in Australia against the self-appointed pro-Israeli functionaries that dominate their 'representative' bodies.

    But whether the percentages of the respondents are even two or one out of five rather than the claimed four out of five, the figure remains frightening.

    'It is a figure we should take great pride in'.  disgusting.

    Devotion to ethnic cleansing as a badge of honour?

    Hasn't the Jewish 'community' got other things to bring them together than a secular state whose leitmotiv is dispossession and lebensraum?

    And this is the mob that hobbles our elected political leaders, our media management (the rank and file from both domains highlight in camera the endless pressure, bullying of this wretched crowd).

    This is the mob that ensured that the Friends of Hebron exhibition in Leichhardt regarding the Nakba story was closed down in May 2008. Ah, we can't have any history but our own fabricated version in the ether.

    We can't have any present but our own fabricated version in the airwaves. (Exhibit A, letter in today's Age on the 'contested' status of the Occupied Territories, coupled with the usual canard that Barak offered the West Bank to the Palestinians in 2000, etc.)

    Ah yes. if the word 'fascism' wasn't the most abused word in the English language, I would be inclined to use it as a label for this lot.

    The delight in moral depravity is a wonder to behold.

  • William Burns

    The 4% figure refers to Israeli Jews, not Israelis.

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