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.

The Zionist blogging army is coming to a battle near you

I mentioned in early September a forthcoming blogger conference in Israel as a way for Zionist forces to co-ordinate propaganda for the state. Let’s call them whores for Israel.

Evgeny Morozov, writing on his Foreign Policy blog, has a long post about the event and it’s worth quoting in full:

At the risk of stepping into Stephen Walt’s territory, I’d like to highlight one of the most remarkable developments in the Israeli blogosphere: the Second International Jewish Blogger Convention that took place in Jerusalem on Sept 13th and brought together 300 bloggers from Israel and the diaspora.

The Israeli government and civil society alike have recently been extremely active in cyberspace, especially in war time, when shaping the international opinion often becomes essential to achieving military objectives. The Israeli consulate in New York received a lot of praise for their Twittering during the recent war in Gaza; however, many other low-key initiatives have received considerably less attention.

For example, as the international outcry against the war in Gaza began getting louder, Israel’s Immigrant Absorption Ministry announced a campaign to recruit an “army of bloggers” made up of polyglot Israelis who could counter anti-Israel sentiment on English, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Russian and French sites. According to reports in Haaretz, after having registered with the ministry, the polyglot volunteers were directed to sites that authorities found “problematic” and engage in discussions that would offer a pro-Israeli point of view.Those pro-war Israelis who didn’t want to coordinate their actions with the government could use special software – called Megaphone (originally developed for the 2006 war with Lebanon)– which could alert them to new articles, blog posts, and online opinion polls that required a joint online reaction (the most loyal supporters could also help by relying on more ominous tools – including one called “Help Israel Win” designed by Israeli university students – which allowed to lend one’s computer power to participate in shady cyber-attacks on Palestinian web-sites).

The recent blogging convention fits withing a much broader effort to use social media for influencing international opinion. A detailed report about the convention in the Jerusalem Post says that the event featured workshops and panel discussions “aimed at advancing Jewish, Zionist and charitable causes”. Yishai Fleisher, a popular Israeli radio talk-show host, held a workshop called “Defending Israel through social media tools”. Fleisher urged the audience to pay attention to the smallest details. Thus, even the name of the blog could play an important role in influencing public opinion because when someone tries run a “search for the Palestinian resistance movement, you instead find a Jewish blog that actively promotes Israel.”

The quote from Ashley Perry, an adviser to Israel’s Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon, is quite revealing:

“The greatest threat to Israel and Zionism is Iran. As bloggers, as opinion shapers, we have to try to get people’s attention to this issue. Iran is threatening through its extremism, through its propaganda. But at the moment, we’re preaching to the choir… we need to reach out to Europe in particular – maybe 10 percent of the population are extremists either way and are ‘sold,’ but the middle 80% is up for grabs, and we’re losing that battle”.

I am surprised that there has been very little research into the effectiveness of Israel’s decentralized new media advocacy efforts and the impact they have had on the international opinion. Unlike Russia and China – the two countries that rely on social media and bloggers to shape domestic opinion – Israel has ventured internationally, tapping into its mighty and multilingual diaspora and providing them with enough space and autonomy to devise their own campaigns. Surely, there must be a way to track their aggregate influence on their respective domestic blogospheres?

If individual bloggers have, indeed, emerged as important opinion-makers that help to shape their country’s foreign policy and, in turn, how other countries respond to it, this would mark an intriguing period in the evolution of diplomacy. After all, what’s better: to have one’s foreign policy influenced by a bevy of lobbyists, NGOs, think-tanks and advocacy organizations or a decentralized army of patriotic bloggers? Or are the bloggers simply supplanting (and, perhaps, gradually displacing) the more traditional actors of the informal lobbies? One thing about bloggers as lobbyists is that they do not leave a public trail of evidence: unlike think-tanks, most of them do not require funding and have no formal affiliation with a government whose policies they endorse. They may be benefiting from the skills that they learn at conventions like the one in Jerusalem but they behave as fully independent actors of civil society, deliberately distancing themselves from official institutions.

This makes it extremely difficult to accuse them of spreading propaganda or repeating the usual talking points: after all, they are acting as citizens rather than politicians. Consequently, what they say is usually treated in a much more serious fashion than the boilerplate of politicians. The state then emerges as a giant platform – or an API in computer-speak – which just needs to provide the resources and make it easy for them to network and connect to each other…

Perhaps Morozov is being too kind. Zionist bloggers have the right to campaign any way they want, but trying to constantly change the subject and avoid talking about the occupation or Gaza or the West Bank simply won’t work. Pro-Israel talking points are increasingly regarded as propaganda by vast numbers of people.

Spin will only get Israel so far. Could its international image sink any lower?

3 comments ↪
  • mallee

    The apologist bloggers for Israel stand out every time they log anything.

    They all take a stance similar to the Chertoff line (video on Whatreallyhappened.com 19.9.08 and 911blogger.com/ 18.9.09)

    When a caller asked Chertoff about the six out of ten 9/11 commissioners stating publicly that the 9/11 Commision was a cover up and that military style nano thermitic redidue was found in the towers dust samples, Mr Chertofff just waved it of as being like 'holocaust deniers' and 'birthers'.

    The boring boring tactic used by the Israeli apologist bloggers is cheap and an affront to decent informed discussion. Why do they do that?

    They stand out like a shag on a rock and are achieving the opposite to what is required for the sake of enabling a future Israel to evolve from a primitive mythologoical mindset to stand along with civilised countries.

    After all, even Australians have apologised to our indegenous people for having done what Israel is presently doing by design. Last weekend, even the premier aplogosed for the abuse of children abused in past State systems of guardianship.

    It is time for Israel apolgists to object to being blindly used and examine objectively the realities of both sides of the present situation in The Middle East in the light of the history of theft, apartheid, murders, deceit and betrayal (e.g. US Liberty 1967) carried out by both sides of the disputes.

    Religion and cultural diversity is merely being used to create hate and mistrust as the tool and motive of those with the grand agendas.

  • iResistDe4iAm

    "The state then emerges as a giant platform – or an API in computer-speak – which just needs to provide the resources and make it easy for them to network and connect to each other…"

    Israel's victims (Palestinians, Lebanese, etc) also have a giant platform ….. which makes it easy for them to network and connect to each other. That platform is TRUTH.

  • brooklyn dodger

    Maybe that explains why an ostensibly centrist-liberal publication like The Forward is crawling with right-wing extremist commenters – arch-Islamophobes, Likudniks, haters of all kinds.

    You should see the outpouring whenever there’s an article about Pam Geller, and there are several of them on The Forward today