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.

J Street pushing a policy that leads to disappointment

My following article appears in today’s Crikey:

Antony Loewenstein writes from Washington DC:

During this week’s first J Street conference in Washington DC  — a US-based, “pro-Israel and pro-peace” lobby group that aims to widen the debate over the Middle East   — an older woman stood up in a session titled “What does it mean to be pro-Israel?” and said: “I have the right to speak out when my tax dollars are backing Israel.” She argued that Jews have a responsibility to shape American policy toward the region, especially when the Jewish state occupies the Palestinians with Washington’s approval.

In many ways J Street’s conference was a watershed moment. The group’s aims are conventional  — a two-state solution and establishment of a “Jewish, democratic state” alongside a viable Palestinian nation  — but the wide variety of (mostly Jewish) attendees were not content to simply accept strict boundaries of debate. Zionists, students, pensioners, 1948 Jewish fighters, anti-Zionists and Nazi hunters congregated  — more than 1500 people showed up  — desperate to engage the key issues of the age.

I arrived a cynic but left a sceptic. The usual suspects abused J Street before the event, during the event and after the event. For these Zionist groups, blind devotion to Israel is the only acceptable way forward. It’s clear, however, that many young Jews with whom I conversed didn’t accept an unquestioning Judaism. They knew about the Gaza war and felt uncomfortable about it. They had spent some time in the West Bank and seen IDF soldiers abusing Palestinian children. They’d watched rampaging Jewish settlers attack Arabs. Real dissent was whispered every day, a post-Zionism was discussed, a boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign against Israel was analysed and a one-state solution was put on the table. J Street endorsed none of these ideas, however, although cheers were constantly heard from the crowd when the dignity of Palestinians was stated and accepted.

During an unofficial blogger’s panel, attended by writer Max Blumenthal and blogger Philip Weiss, we discussed the ideas J Street didn’t want in its official program. Jewish identity, a constantly evolving beast that often remains mired in Zionist myths, is in need of re-tuning. J Street executive director Jeremy Ben-Ami told me that he was all too aware that a growing number of young Jews were turning away from their religion and Israel, inter-marriage and disgust with Israeli policies leading to a 21st-century multiculturalism that leaves the Middle East in the hands of extremists and the most dedicated.

Historically, that has largely been hardline Zionists, settlers and Palestinian rejectionists. Although I fundamentally disagree with Ben-Ami’s proscriptions  — his recent interview with the Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg was a sad reflection of what mainstream Jews supposedly need to say to please gate-keeper Zionists  — J Street’s conference was a relatively wide-tent socially, if not politically. It’s unimaginable that AIPAC’s annual conference would tolerate (or even attract) participants who wanted to debate a post-Zionist Israel.  Former AIPAC head Neal Sher told me that the real test for J Street was translating the undeniable passion and energy this week into real political power, something AIPAC has perfected to a fine art.

The question remains: what are the boundaries of America debate over Israel and Palestine and who sets the limits? For many at J Street, nothing should be off the table. Ever.

Even during the keynote speech delivered by Barack Obama’s national security adviser, Jim Jones — a largely sterile effort designed to show Washington’s dedication to the Jewish state while mentioning Palestinians almost in passing  — the word Gaza was uttered, albeit briefly. Occupation was condemned. Illegal settlements were hammered. Whether Obama has the will or interest to achieve any kind of negotiated settlement in the Middle East is highly doubtful but Jones at least acknowledged the importance of alternative Jewish views.

J Street officials expressed fear that Obama was the last, great hope to resolve the Israel/Palestine conflict and provided a platform for those who argued about the “demographic threat” (more Arabs than Jews in the land of Israel and Palestine, something happening as we speak). There is something fundamentally racist about calmly analysing the higher Arab birth-rate threatening to swamp Jewish lives. Imagine if white Australian parents worried about Aboriginal children “threatening” the purity of their children.

The ability of some Zionists to want a majority Jewish state is an inherent contradiction in the modern world; enjoy multiculturalism and its benefits in the West but desire racial purity in the state of Israel.

Australian Jewish leaders fear the importation of free debate. J Street’s coming out conference fills them with dread. Perhaps a newer generation of Jews will not tolerate this orthodox approach. The alternative is simply idealising the state of Israel without daring to look beyond its white and sunny tourist image. Occupation isn’t something to be ignored or defended. It has placed modern Judaism morally on its knees.

This week left me invigorated, enraged and disillusioned. J Street itself is pushing, in my view, a policy that will only lead to disappointment and continued occupation of Palestinian land. But the range of voices, arguments, disagreements and passions at the conference proves a vibrant Judaism is essential if Jews and Palestinians are to live peacefully together.

one comment ↪
  • ellen

    "They knew about the Gaza war and felt uncomfortable about it."
    Dropping white phosphorous on babies, shooting people holding a white flag, using new weapons of war which cause organ failure and cancer….
    And this makes young Jews feel uncomfortable?
    Gosh ain't it great to have a conscience.