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.

How the Elders captured a glimpse of Israeli apartheid

Following the recent visit to Israel/Palestine by The Elders, an Israeli lawyer, Emily, Schaefer, wrote this detailed report on her experiences with the group to a select list  (but she has given permission for publication). She helped organise The Elders visit to a Palestinian village:

Dear friends, family and comrades,

Yesterday might just have been the most exhilarating day of my life so far, and more importantly one of the most historical days for the Village of Bil’in. About a week ago I received a call from a colleague of mine asking if I might be available the next day to meet with the “advance team” of the Elders to take them to Bil’in and “convince them” to bring the Elders there on their 4-day visit in the region. She asked me to coordinate with Mohammed and Abdullah from the Popular Committee Against the Wall and Settlements (aka my dear friends), and p.s. it’s top secret! She had me at “the Elders.”

The Elders are a relatively recent phenomenon, started by Nelson Mandela and funded primarily by tycoons Richard Branson and Peter Gabriel. The idea behind the group is that in traditional societies it is the elders who advice and take care of the society and ensure its progress, but that the world today needs that at large. So the mission of the group is to bring influential and experienced former prime ministers, presidents and world leaders to parts of the world experiencing conflict and strife and to attempt to pool their wisdom to find a solution. The Elders are made up of: Kofi Annan, Ela Bhatt, Jimmy Carter, Lakhdar Brahim, Gro Brundtland, Fernando H Cardoso, Graça Machel, Mary Robinson, Desmond Tutu, and Muhammad Yunus, with Honorary Elders,Nelson Mandela and Aung San Suu Kyi.

This visit’s delegation consisted of: Desmond Tutu and Mary Robinson (two personal heroes), Jimmy Carter, Ela Bhatt, Gro Brundtland, and Fernando Cardoso, and they were accompanied by Richard Branson and Jeff Skoll (another funder, founding president of Ebay and film producer).

Our first meeting was a huge success, and not only did Mohammed, Abdullah and I convince them to bring the Elders to Bil’in (a change in their plans to go to Gaza, which they managed to arrange through video conference), but the CEO of the Elders invited me to be the person to brief the Elders on the village and take them there! I was beside myself (and subsequently nervous for an entire week).

Two days later I was giving the American secret service (for President Carter) a tour of the village and an explanation on the local security situation (replete with my commentary — I discovered I absolutely cannot talk about security in the West Bank without being sharply critical and often even cynical). Because President Carter has to have uber-pumped up security, especially in the West Bank — and by this I mean a motorcade of 12 black Suburbans and secret service planted all along the journey — and therefore couldn’t ride with the rest of the Elders and me for my briefing on the road to Bil’in, I was asked to have a special meeting with President and Mrs. Carter in their hotel suite in Jerusalem on Monday. Again, beside myself.

That in and of itself was an incredible experience. It honestly felt like having tea with my grandfather, even the way President Carter would drill me with questions in a sharp but caring manner. He is incredibly informed about the region and asked intelligent questions. He especially wanted to get to the heart of the matter about the so-called “settlement freeze” that Obama is pushing for. I told him that so far new building has been frozen on the ground and plans have not been approved but that I doubt highly that plans are not being drawn as we speak. But more importantly, I stressed, is ridding the West Bank of settlements period, and I explained how there are still plans for many existing settlements to expand. President Carter referred to some of his meetings with Obama and was trying to brainstorm what he could do. Mrs. Carter immediately turned to the Carter Center’s Director of Human Rights, who had also joined our meeting, and said, “let’s schedule a meeting for you and I with Michelle.” But of course the main focus was the non-violent resistence movement, and I asked President Carter to speak about Bil’in whenever possible as an example of the “enemy” Israel isn’t talking about.

Yesterday was the big day, and I’m still in shock and disbelief and have a permanent smile on my face. I met the Elders at the World Bank office in East Jerusalem and had 40 minutes to speak to them about Bil’in, its history, and its message, and then to answer questions. I opened by telling them that “to me the message of Bil’in is hope — hope that the occupation will end; hope that the power of the people raising their voices still can, and in some cases may be the only thing that will, make change; and hope that when this conflict comes to an end, which I have to believe it will, it is places like Bil’in that will have preserved our collective humanity and our ability to coexist.” I told them that there are plenty of examples of non-violent and joint Israeli-Palestinian-international movements around the West Bank, but that Bil’in has become the symbol because its struggle has been consistent and creative. I gave them the history of the village, the movement, the “other non-violent resistance” — the court battles — and then I told them the price that the village is paying, both in terms of its lives (including the killing of Bassem Abu Rahma at a demonstration in April by the Israeli army) and its wellbeing (the mass arrests over the last 2 months of over 25 villagers conducted through nighttime raids several nights each week). (I must admit that at some point I was distracted for a second and had to turn to the group and say, “I’m sorry, it’s just that this is my first motorcade!” There were many laughs and a few even piped up and said “mine too!”)

Desmond Tutu knows non-violent protest (and arrest for it) better than most people on this planet, and Mary Robinson knows international human rights law. But we all had a very lively discussion after my talk, and the questions ranged from discussing legal tactics to asking me about Israeli public opinion. At one point, when I had been talking more about those killed in various protests in different villages, including children, Desmond Tutu asked me: “Emily, when you go to Yad Vashem’s hall of children and you hear the names read of Jewish children murdered in the Holocaust, and then you hear about Palestinian children being killed from Gaza to Nialin, what does it do to you?” I answered him very honestly and personally. I told him that I don’t make direct Holocaust comparisons because I don’t usually find them useful or effective in this conflict. But I said that having the Holocaust in my family’s history informed my identity from a young age, and it has made me accutely aware of suffering and oppression of others. I believe that those who know persecution should be especially wary of persecuting others.

Richard Branson asked me if I have been penalized for speaking out and doing the work I do. And I explained that people often ask me this, and from their questions I have become even more accutely aware of my privilege in this conflict (and of course in general), as a white, educated, Jew I have the right to speak my mind, to demonstrate, and at worst to be arrested and tried with due process. I explained that I view this privilege as a responsibility to act on behalf of those who, for no other reason than their birth to different parents, do not benefit from these freedoms. I talked about the unsettling experience of returning from the Canada speaking tour with my dear friend Mohammed, where we were equals, returning unequal but demonstrating in Bil’in shoulder to shoulder, and then watching him sit behind glass with shackles on his ankles while I entered the prison freely and sat on the air-conditioned side of the room, later to be asked to rate its facilities. Even when there weren’t questions, I felt the approval and support in the group’s nods.

When we arrived in Bil’in we first went to the site of the demonstrations, including a symbolic grave for Bassem. Getting off the bus I was handing out business cards, as I had suggested that they be in touch anytime for any reason, when Mary Robinson came up to me. I thought I accidentally forgot to give her a card, but when I handed her one she said, “no, I just want to hug you. Thank you for your work.” I was aghast and must have stuttered out my response which was just gratitude for her work. Desmond Tutu put his arm on my shoulder when he had stepped down to the ground, and said in his adorable South African accent, “Emily, you’re great!” I told him that my best friend from law school, also a human rights advocate, has said for years that he is the number one person she wishes to meet. It was his turn to stutter and look away and make some comment about how he’s old now and then change the subject. It was a sweet moment. President Carter got out of his car and shouted across several people to me “Emily!” with his arms wide open to hug me. I had to cover the fact that I almost shouted back “Jimmy!”

As we approached the demo site and the wall, Abdullah gave a short talk about the Popular Committee and the struggle in Bil’in, giving the group a visual of what happens at the demonstrations and where the settlement is in relation to where they were standing. Afterwards the Elders were asked to stand by the wall and give a statement. President Carter emphasized that both the land on which they were standing and the land on the other side of the wall is Palestine, and that all the settlements must be removed. Then Desmond Tutu, as I stood right next to him, talked about the power of people like Ghandi, Rosa Parks, MLK and the heroes of his own struggle against the Apartheid to eventually bring justice and equality. He spoke about Apartheid times and about how after all the blood, tears and strife, “in the end we won our freedom, and we won our oppressors’ freedom as well.” This was when I let the tears I had needed to shed all morning come out ever so slightly. I couldn’t hold in all the extreme emotion of the day anymore.

We gathered in the Village Council building and heard from other members of the Popular Committee and residents of the village, as well as from Shai Pollack, a longstanding activist and the maker of the film, “Bil’in My Love,” filling in my briefing with their powerful stories. Mohammed stole the crowd, as always, as he talked about what it means to choose non-violence and why a joint struggle with Israelis.

When it was time to say goodbye, I was saddened. But then I turned to Abdullah and Mohammed and over coffee we tried to process it all. And I realized I had never seen either of them that giddy and excited. And all I could feel was pride in Bil’in, gratitude for the visit, and honor that I got to be part of that day, and that I get to be part of this struggle at all.

There were several articles published today about the visit, and here are links to some of the main ones in the New York Times and Haaretz (Israel’s NYTimes).

For some reason, the Hebrew version is different from the English Haaretz, so I will just translate the last paragraph of the Hebrew for those of you who won’t be able to read it, and say that I’m floored:

(In an interview with Desmond Tutu and after talking about his dismay at many things he discovered are happening in Israel, including the banning of Ethiopian students from a school in Petah Tikva): “That said, he [Desmond Tutu] pointed out that during his visit he met with many wonderful young Israelis and Palestinians that warmed his heart. He was particularly impressed by by an Israeli lawyer named Emily Schaeffer, who assists Palestinians in demanding their rights and regularly participates in demonstrations against the separation wall. According to him, people like this strengthen his faith that as in South Africa, here too both peoples can change the situation and live peacefully side by side.”

If there were ever a time when Bil’in (and maybe even me) needed a boost of energy and a reminder of why they put so much at stake with so little to show for it, it was now.

In gratitude, hope and solidarity,

no comments – be the first ↪