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.

Introducing Saree Makdisi to Australia

During last night’s Sydney Ideas event with Sareee Makdisi, I gave the following introduction:

Sydney Ideas
22 September, 2009

Excavating Memory in Jerusalem
Professor Saree Makdisi, US academic, author and Middle East analyst
Seymour Centre, Sydney University

An introduction by Antony Loewenstein

During an interview with the Boston Globe in 2008 during the release of his book, Palestine Inside Out: An Everyday Occupation, Saree Makdisi argued the following:

“[There is a] prevailing orthodoxy that in general Israel is the aggrieved party and the Palestinians are the aggressors, whereas it seems to me that the situation is exactly the opposite. Half of Palestine’s people were forced from their homes during the creation of Israel in 1948; they have never been allowed to return although they have the legal and moral right to do so. Instead we see the continuing existence of a system that keeps people displaced and unable to exercise their full human rights.”

The perversion of language, for this professor of English Literature at the University of California, is central to his thesis. Our mainstream media constantly frames the Middle East conflict as between two equal sides, two aggrieved parties and two victims. The Jews of Europe, including my own family, were butchered in the name of fundamentalism during the Holocaust, but the Palestinians have been paying a high price ever since for Hitler’s crimes. The Palestinians are the new Jews. Occupation has become a modern Zionist trait.

During my recent visit to Israel, the West Bank and Gaza I saw the creeping apartheid discussed by Makdisi in his copious public writings and recent book. It is often mundane, hidden but devastating. I witnessed messianic Jews set fire to Palestinian fields in the West Bank while Israeli troops stood and watched. I observed vicious racism in Jerusalem by protesting settlers against the “Negro” Barack Obama and Arabs. I spoke to Gazans suffering under an Israeli and Egyptian imposed siege, the effects of the December/January war still fresh in their lives, whole neighbours flattened.

Last week’s UN Gaza report, compiled by the distinguished South African Jewish judge Richard Goldstone, marked a turning point, for the simple fact that it correctly claimed that, “while the Israeli government has sought to portray its operations as essentially a response to rocket attacks in the exercises of its right to self-defence, the [UN] mission considers the plan to have been directed, at least in part, at a different target: the people of Gaza as a whole.” Whether the international community allows Israel to literally get away with murder is now a key question.

Makdisi’s message, eloquently explained in his Edward Said Memorial Lecture presented over the weekend, is that tired slogans will no longer suffice. And ideas that were once on the fringes are gaining mainstream acceptance. Decades of Zionist exceptionalism, global Holocaust guilt, colonial expansion and violence have seen to that. Here is a short extract from Makdisi’s Said presentation, articulating the logical and only democratic answer to the conflict:

“There is no question that committed Zionists from across the political spectrum will resist the move toward the one state solution in the way that privileged groups have always historically resisted the erosion of their privileges. The resistance, even the violent resistance, of privileged groups did not stop South Africa from abandoning Apartheid; the United States from abandoning Jim Crow laws or the institution of slavery itself; or, for that matter, the British aristocracy from relinquishing its privileges in the great Reform bills of the nineteenth century.  And so it is with those who seek to protect the privileges of the Jewish community in Israel/Palestine today, who know perfectly well that they are running out of time, and that the world will not—or at least should not—tolerate the kinds of discrimination practiced in Israel and the occupied territories for much longer.”

Makdisi correctly uses the term “apartheid” to describe the situation in the occupied territories. It is not just accurate but essential if one is to honestly reveal the racially exclusionary regime implemented there, backed by the US, the EU and Australia. The only logical answer, as Makdisi constantly reiterates, is a global boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign against Israel until it accepts the basic tenets of international law and ends the occupation.

The last six months alone have seen great strides in this movement. Last week leading US Jewish paper, the Forward, had an article headlined, “Palestinian-Led Movement To Boycott Israel Is Gaining Support”. As Omar Barghouti, a Palestinian leader of the BDS campaign, told the publication, “Our South Africa moment has finally arrived.” Any university, institution, cultural ambassador, filmmaker or individual trying to “normalise” relations with occupying Israel will be targeted.

The power of Makdisi’s writings is not just because he is a Palestinian and articulates a narrative the Western world has spent so long to suppress and deny but because he reveals the largely hidden realities of a Middle East client state drunk on its arrogance and seeming invincibility. It is the job of Jews, Arab, Palestinians, Christians and human rights activists everywhere to no longer tolerate the superficially appealing victimhood of Zionism.

Jewish historian Tony Judt wrote in 2006 on Israel’s 58th birthday that the country was curiously immature, “consumed by a brittle confidence in its own uniqueness; certain that no one ‘understands’ it and everyone is ‘against’ it; full of wounded self-esteem, quick to take offence and quick to give it.”

The situation is even graver in 2009, with an Israeli Prime Minister who has never truly accepted the legitimacy of the Palestinian people and a US President who thrives on making pretty speeches with virtually nothing to show for it; a magician whose bag of tricks convinces only the most devoted and deluded. Despite months of public debate, the occupation in the West Bank has only deepened since Obama’s inauguration.

American Jewish intellectual and blogger Joseph Dana wrote recently that, “Contemporary Jewish identity has been constructed around two opposites, which cannot function without each other, the Holocaust and the State of Israel.” This incestuous relationship has allowed the Palestinians to be demonised as the cause of Jewish suffering, rather than the victims of post-Holocaust, Jewish militarism. It takes both Jews and Palestinians to challenge this equation and Makdisi is leading the conversation.

Let me close with Makdisi in the Huffington Post in July, signalling the inherent contradiction of modern Zionism:

“Israel today is no more Jewish than America is white or Christian. The big difference, though, is that, whereas America (for the most part) embraces its own multiculturalism, Israel still desperately wants to be Jewish. Its absurd demand to be recognized as such (no other state goes around impetuously demanding that others accept its own sense of its national character) is an expression of its own profound insecurity: not its military insecurity – the only serious military threat Israel faces on its own territory is imaginary – but rather its anxious awareness of its status as a botched, and hence forever incomplete, settler-colonial enterprise. Unlike Australia, there were too many Aboriginals left standing when the smoke cleared over the ruins of Palestine in 1948. And to this day the Palestinians have refused to simply give up, go away or somehow annul themselves.”

I stand before you as a Jew who turns in shame at what my people have become in supporting a state with leaders who boast of imprisoning, killing and blockading another people. Not in our name.

I’m honoured to introduce Saree Makdisi, a man with peace and justice on his mind.

  • ej

    The Makdisi talk as masterly.

    Not only is the Museum of Tolerance Jerusalem grotesque in itself, physically (a piece of architectural shit), substantively (being built on an Arab cemetery of a millennia and a half vintage). and symbolically (the Zionist version of Jewish history as the history of humanity in general).

    But the MOTJ a metaphor for the whole Zionist enterprise.

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