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.

Saree Makdisi: Obama won’t solve the Middle East crisis

My following article appears in today’s Crikey:

After Tuesday night’s Sydney Ideas lecture by Saree Makdisi, professor of English Literature at the University of California and nephew of the late Palestinian intellectual Edward Said, chief executive of the New South Wales Jewish Board of Deputies, Vic Alhadeff, asked a question. He wanted to know why Makdisi had ignored the extreme Hamas charter, Palestinian rejectionism and constant Israeli peace offers since 1948. “You’ve only told one side of the story,” Alhadeff claimed.

Makdisi responded with passion, claiming that Alhadeff and the Zionist position he represented only saw in Israel and Palestine what they wanted to see. Alhadeff started his question by saying that, “we all believe the occupation should have ended yesterday”, and yet Makdisi countered that Israel’s supposedly serious peace offerings were bogus as long as the occupation of the West Bank deepened every day.

It was a point he made on ABC Radio’s The World Today last week. Equality, justice and peace can never be achieved when fundamentalist, Jewish colonialists continue to control vital West Bank territory.

About 200 people packed into Sydney University’s Seymour Centre on Tuesday night (disclosure: I introduced Makdisi) and the crowd was diverse. Although there were few Jewish attendees  — I knew maybe five  — there were countless Palestinians, Arabs and concerned citizens of various ages. His talk in Melbourne last week (covered in The Age), was equally popular, I’m told, people drawn to the growing global consensus that apartheid is occurring in the occupied territories with total Western support (the audio is here).

Makdisi spoke principally about Jerusalem’s proposed Museum of Tolerance, to be built on a sacred Muslim cemetery. He explained how the Zionist backers of the project appear oblivious or uncaring towards the sensitivities of the Palestinian population and want to create a space where Jewish “unity” is celebrated rather than real reconciliation with the Arab population.

Makdisi argued that the only way to fairly solve the Middle East crisis  — he had no faith in Barack Obama, despite having known him years ago in Chicago and saying he was a good politician  — was a one-state solution with equal rights for all its citizens. A democracy like any other Western state, such as America or Australia, that theoretically thrives on its multicultural mix, rather than Israel that wants ethnic and racial purity.

Makdisi’s Edward Said Memorial Lecture, given last weekend at the University of Adelaide, is a catalogue of life for Palestinians under occupation, a reality rarely told in the Western media. An extract:

“According to a report published in July 2007 by the United Nations Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN OCHA), almost 40 percent of the West Bank is now taken up by Israeli infrastructure (roads, colonies, army bases, etc) to which indigenous Palestinians are largely denied access. The pace of Jewish colonisation in the West Bank and East Jerusalem — colonisation that has taken place on the illegally expropriated private property of Palestinian families or, equally illegally, on land that was declared state property by the Israeli army — has not significantly slackened for one moment in the past four decades, even though Israel’s colonial enterprise has been repeatedly condemned as a violation of international law by the United Nations General Assembly and Security Council as well as the International Court of Justice in the Hague.”

Makdisi’s solution to the conflict is not to wait for the Obama administration to move into gear  — he told me that America had shown no indication of getting serious with the peace process  — but a global boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign targeting complicit Israeli institutions. Such thoughts, gathering pace across the world, are making defenders of the occupation status quo here in Australia rightly uncomfortable.

I spoke to several people on Tuesday night who told me that such talks in Australia about occupation were happening with increasing frequency. “Twenty years ago.” one attendee told me, “you never heard about the Palestinians. Now you do, but they have no power.”

Antony Loewenstein is a journalist and author of My Israel Question.

7 comments ↪
  • Just wondering

    "A democracy like any other Western state, such as America or Australia, that theoretically thrives on its multicultural mix, rather than Israel that wants ethnic and racial purity."
    Well, the Middle East isn't in the West, Israelis and Palestinians aren't Americans and Australians. America and Australia, countries of immigration (which decimated their indigenous populations) are exceptions in history, not the norm, which is the nation-state based on peoples who claim a privileged connection to a piece of territory. Forcibley transforming Middle Eastern states into our-style democracies… well, that was the Iraq project, wasn't it?
    I notice that Makdisi is Lebanese too (his father, quite distinguished). So why doesn't he call for Lebanon to become a democracy like any Western state, and give Palestinians born there full citizenship? I suspect he'd be dropped by a lot of his Arab admirers–like a hot potato.

  • Marilyn

    In which nanosecond did the Israeli's ever offer peace?  I would be interested if old hypocrite Vic could tell us all.

  • Jenny

    Even worse, Obama's ignoring the Goldstone report: http://jta.org/news/article/2009/09/23/1008097/us

  • Shaun

    "Even worse, Obama’s ignoring the Goldstone report"

    Maybe there is hope for Obama yet. Any person with even a limited knowledge of the arab-Israeli conflict will see the Goldstone report for the vile piece of anti-Semitic propaganda that it is.

  • ej

    Is Shaun claiming that people of Jewish ethnicity are incapable of committing crimes, especially crimes against humanity, or that people of Jewish ethnicity have privileged status in a unique right to commit such crimes?

  • Marilyn

    Obama can say what he likes but the rest of the world can take anyone in Israel to the ICC if they are dual citizens in countries that are members of the ICC.

    And they should put Blair, Bush and Howard with them.

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