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.

When Zionists start feeling the argument is lost

Following Michael Danby MP’s outburst in parliament last week – against those evil types who dare criticise Israel – Middle East Reality Check unearths a gem from the man’s past (1977, to be precise):

Michael Danby, a student at Melbourne University, is a leader of the Zionist movement there. He regularly writes a column in The Australian Jewish News titled Young Voice. The column is usually tucked away towards the end of the newspaper, perhaps because the Zionist editors are even a little embarrassed themselves with the inanities sometimes expressed in it. In the January 14 edition, Danby hits upon a new theory to explain why a growing number of Australian Union of Students (AUS) members have taken a stand against Zionism in support of the Palestinian people. According to Danby, it has nothing to do with an increased awareness of Third World struggles, or the obvious barbarity of the Israeli regime… The opposition to Zionism within AUS, which Danby dishonestly calls ‘anti-Semitism’, is to be attributed, it seems, to the increase in the number of Lebanese-owned milk bars and cafes in the area around Melbourne University. After describing how the once-flourishing Carlton Jewish community had migrated to the Caulfield-St Kilda area, Danby explains: ‘Recent years have seen another immigrant community flourish in the area. King Hiram’s Restaurant, Mounier’s Pastissire [sic] are always full of customers and most Carlton milk bars sell LEBANESE sweets’ (Danby’s emphasis). Danby develops his theory that because Melbourne University students might eat at a Lebanese restaurant or buy Lebanese cakes, these Lebanese traders might influence their views on the Middle East conflict. It would be a different story perhaps, Danby suggests, if Melbourne University was in Caulfield or St Kilda. How Danby explains a similar degree of support for the Palestinians at Monash University or La Trobe University is anybody’s guess. Are the Lebanese buying up the cake shops around there too?” (Arab Liberation News, 1/4/77)

In today’s Crikey, Guy Rundle has a few things to say:

To delete or not to delete? Ever since media went online, editors have faced the question as to exactly what limits they will set on the comments attached to articles. The practice has come to so dominate the media-sphere that it’s difficult to remember a time when you could live in blissful ignorance of what people actually thought of your opinions, save for the respectable debate permitted by letters editors.

For a while editors were very keen on a pretty much open slather of comments — even when they insulted the author’s humanity, virility, maternity, hygiene and much much more. I’ve noticed that this policy tends to be tightened soon after the editor in question first gets attacked and realises how creepy it is to have crazies wanting your loved ones to get cancer, hanging permanently from the article.

But the question of acceptable political limits remains. Letters pages could use lack of space to exclude the UFO/fluoride/ZOG crowd — but limitless cyberspace makes choices necessary. We’ve hacked into the Tim Blair and Andrew Bolt comment strings many a time, when their moderators leave various racist bilge online for days or longer — and given that Bolt has taken to assessing people’s aboriginality by checking the blackness of their skin, like a South African racial court of old, it’s kinda hard to think how the commenters can outdisgrace the article proper.

Crikey’s policy has been to leave some fairly drekkish stuff up, on the grounds that you are no more responsible for the opinions in a comment string than you are for what is said about an article in the pub. The one issue on which this gets everyone everywhere into trouble is in forthright criticism of Israel, because the anti-Zionist basis of the attack also attracts anti-Semites.

Since making anti-Zionist arguments from a progressive point of view has always meant actively rejecting anti-Semitic ones, and keeping such people away from demonstrations, publications, etc, I’ve previously suggested that we should more aggressively weed out the two or three noxious anti-Semites who come out of the wormwood every time one writes on the complex history of Zionism’s entanglement with terrorism, fascism and anti-Semitism, from the 1920s onwards.

Nevertheless, Michael Danby’s attack on Crikey and newmatilda for “unleashing” these comments isn’t really directed at such thoughts from the lower depths — their principle target is any criticism of Israel that is other than mild reproof of its tactics, especially the pretty trenchant critiques offered by Antony Loewenstein and Michael Brull.

You can see this in Danby’s long volley from the coward’s castle of the House of Reps recently — in which the old skool Jew hatred (run the world, driven by nature to, etc,  etc) is all thrown into the same pot with completely legitimate critique of Israel that have become more prevalent in recent years — particularly that it was guilty of ethnic cleansing with regard to the Palestinians and is currently actively dissolving the possibility of them achieving nationhood. Danby is also exercised by the Nazi/Israel comparisons that have floated around.

A couple of pertinent points need to be made:

* by any definition, the conduct of the war of 1948, with mass planned terror directed at Arab civilians, is arguable as ethnic cleansing. Benny Morris’ work documents more than 30 massacres, all drawn from IDF archive documents — and all with the explicit aim of clearing territory — and this now seems to be a conservative figure. The degree to which that terror contributed to the exodus of Palestinians can be debated. That it was a part of it cannot.

* In calling Zionists Nazis, no one can outdo other Zionists. From Ben-Gurion’s 1930s remarks that Jabotinsky and then Begin were “Jewish Hitlers” through to remarks in Haaretz about IDF-looking storm troopers, the Israel/Nazi comparison is usually kitschy and exaggerated, but comes from all directions.


* The relationship between Zionism and Nazism is legitimate to explore, not only because Zionism was largely supported by gentile anti-Semites before the war, but also because the faction that became the Likud party — the Irgun and the Lehi — were fascistic and terroristic in their conception of Zionism. Since the whole settlements policy was pushed forward during the era of Menachem Begin and Yitzhak Shamir, who were leaders of these groups, it is relevant to ask whether this does not contribute to the pointless, chauvinistic and humiliating way in which the settlements are relentlessly prosecuted today.

* the focus on Israel’s actions by writers from the Left (and especially from the Jewish Left) is for obvious reasons, to avoid giving silent consent to what is purportedly done in your name, whether that name be Jews, the West, democracy or whatever. Since Israel’s actions are supported by Western military aid, and fawning Western politicians, and is at root, a colonial policy, greater critical attention and energy is going to be paid.

Indeed, it’s because I want those forthright critiques to keep going, that I’d support a more aggressive comments deletion policy. But it’s ridiculous to blame the barbecue for the blowflies. Danby’s anger is directed at the criticism that does make sense and has seen, over the breadth of his public career, Israel go from being uncriticisable in the West, to having its actions scrutinised more sceptically and unsparingly. No wonder he’s pissed off — 30 years of flak catching and the cause has only gone backwards.

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