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.

Times changing rapidly in the Middle East

My following article appears in today’s Crikey:

Times are changing fast in the Middle East.

The legal affairs editor at Yediot, Israel’s largest circulation daily, wrote on the weekend that the situation in the West Bank is “apartheid”.

One leading American commentator, Time’s Joe Klein, directly challenges Barack Obama to withhold US aid until Israel “comes to understand that Jerusalem must be the capital of both Israel and Palestine, and that if you actually want peace, you don’t build illegal settlement colonies in the Palestinian capital”.

The world is tiring of Israeli intransigence.

In the context of a stagnated “peace process” and ongoing colonial expansion that makes a two-state solution practically impossible, the Australian Greens have embarked on a tentative and informal but important process to re-assess their current policy on the Israel/Palestine conflict. It currently endorses a two-state equation  and “supports the rights of the Palestinian peoples to statehood through the creation of a viable state of Palestine alongside the state of Israel, based on the pre-1967 borders and the right of all peoples in the region to peace.”

During last weekend’s national conference in Melbourne, I was invited to address a forum to advocate a one-state solution (with two speakers pushing for maintenance of the status quo). It is a position backed by senior figures in the NSW Greens and I’m told a growing number of Greens members.

I argued that a one-state solution was the only just solution to the conflict, removing discrimination against Jews and Palestinians and creating a modern state that grants equal rights to all its citizens; one person for one vote.

A Jewish state (or Muslim state, for that matter) is discriminatory by definition. Partition is the cornerstone of a two-state solution, oblivious to facts on the ground that allow 500,000 Jewish settlers to settle illegally on Palestinian land. Such realities cannot be resolved through drawing arbitrary borders.

The two-state solution, I stressed, was a failed dream, easy rhetoric in place of sound and moral policy. Alas, many Jews seem unwilling to give up the concept of a racially exclusionary nation that benefits Jews above Palestinians.

One other speaker, David Rothfield, a Jew who had lived for many years in Israel, argued that there was strong international consensus for the two-state solution and now wasn’t the time to undergo a re-examination of Greens policy. “The role of the Greens in Australia is to prevent the climate emergency”, he said, “and we have to set priorities for the party.”

The other speaker, Sol Salbe, believed that neither the one- nor two-state solutions were likely in the future, but one was even less likely. He argued that the world trend was towards ethnic separation, not united countries. However, he acknowledged the difficulty of separating the two peoples due to the ongoing colonisation project in the West Bank.

The group discussion was highly instructive. It was respectful and thoughtful, two attributes often missing in this debate. Furthermore, many speakers were curious about breaking the deadlock of the Middle East.

One person said that the Greens were supposed to support pluralism and multiculturalism and “Israel is not either”  — the US State Department said last week that Israel is a fundamentally intolerant nation — and “we have to support democracy, therefore a one-state solution is the answer”.

Many of the comments followed suit, across gender and generational lines. The positions articulated by the Labor and Liberal parties were barely acknowledged, as in reality they haven’t changed in years. Kevin Rudd will support whatever policies Israel pursues, ignoring its brutality and anti-democratic nature.

A key drafter of the original Greens policy said that it was may be time to re-examine the basis for supporting a two-state solution, though he was under no illusion of the traumas ahead if the issue was re-visited. Targeted boycotts against firms complicit in the West Bank occupation  were mentioned as a possible way forward for the Greens.

One older Jewish woman was in tears explaining the pain and personal abuse she suffered a few years ago during the period of formulating party policy. She urged the status quo to remain.

An organiser of the forum, Tad Tietze, said that Australia couldn’t ignore Israel’s Jewish character and its discrimination against non-Jews. Greens policy backs secularism, he argued, “so why do we support an exclusionary Jewish state?”

Such thoughts are circulating in Israel, too. Noam Sheizaf, a journalist and blogger in Tel Aviv, wrote last week that fighting over a two-state solution was a fool’s game. True democracy was the goal:

… The Palestinians should simply focus on getting equal rights from the Israeli government. This is one fight Israel will have a really hard time winning  — in Europe for sure, but even in the US. Are we going to explain that we need to keep the Arabs as second-rate citizens so we can have a Jewish majority? How is that going to sound to the Jews who took part in the civil rights movement, or to a nation which just elected a black president?”

Senior figures in the NSW Greens have pledged to continue the public discussion towards changing party policy and better reflect facts on the ground in the Middle East.

6 comments ↪
  • ej

    Rothfield: 'there was strong international consensus for the two-state solution'.

    No there isn't. There is strong international (i.e. Western, the rest don't count) consensus that Israel has carte blanche to continue to ethnically cleanse the land mass over which Israel presides.

    Why do well educated people keep talking shit?

    Someone has apparently coined the short hand 'ziocaine' for whatever it is that the Israel lobby is on so that their brain turns to mush when the Israel stimulus is triggered.

    Rothfield might be on a low dosage but it's time for him and his ilk to go cold turkey.

  • Red Bingham

    Dear Anthony,

    I'm a non-Zionist. I'm not an "anti-Zionist" as that word is problematic. If one sees Zionism as just a nationalist ideology – no more and no less, one can get a more balanced view, perhaps. Every country is entitled to its palrliament, its borders, its language and its laws. There are six million reasons for the state of Israel and I'm glad that Australia voted for its creation because every people need a country – the Uighers, the Tibetans and certainly the Palestinians.

    I don't however, agree with the notion that Israel should remain a "Jewish state" and if were up to me (which it clearly will never be) I would put my hand up for a secular democratic state that allows a "right of return " for Jews and Palestinians.

    So I guess I'm closer to your politics than some of my colleagues in the AJDS. However, the Zinocaine crack was out of order. It just doesn't do to launch impolite attacks on those who would defend your right to speak – even if Robin Rothfield may disagree with you on significant points.

    Rest asured that the AJDS will continue to defend you – maybe not all the things that you say – but defend your right to a hearing and a place on the platform. So I urge you to save the vitriol for the common enemy and cut the "prolier than thou" superiority. I may have interpreted your remarks as a backhanded compliment as well as an insult but this doesn't excuse you for your undergraduate stereotyping (oops! I hope I didn't stereotype you!)

    I personally think that you are a Jew who is committed to a Middle East peace and that the concerted waves of attacks made on you and your reputation  have made you a little overly-defensive.

    I look forward to working with you on projects in the future and I urge you to email Robin clarifying your attitude to him – because you need allies in whom the Australian Jewish Community have support.

    Regards,

    Red Bingham

    P.S. Why don't we bring out Naomi Klein? I'll organise it from the Melbourne end – you can do it from Sydney.

  • ej

    There are six million reasons against the state of Israel.
    Any ongoing discussion of a two-state solution has nothing to with the politics of Israel and the Occupation, facts on the ground, but mentalities within the Jewish community, castles in the air.
    There will never be a separate viable Palestinian state, and Israel (and its Western backers) are the cause.  So why aren’t the two-staters rethinking the nature of Israel? It’s getting on for 20 years since Oslo.
    This is not a discussion about how to ensure that Palestinians do not have to endure further decades of ethnic cleansing but about whether members of Jewish communities feel good about themselves.
    Two-state solution discussions are a symptom of a pathology, not a not debate about real processes.
    When members of the Jewish community can ditch their prior commitment to tribalism, as has AL, and join the rest of humanity, we might see some progress on relieving the stench that emanates from Israel.

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  • Howard Marosi

     
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    Please forgive me if this is too long. Essentially it supports Antony`s position on a secular, democratic single-state of Palestine. I wrote it in one sitting, from my recollection of years of considering both sides of the debate.
    <!–[if !supportEmptyParas]–> <!–[endif]–>
    The state would include those Jews who currently live in Israel, and those Arabs who left in the years after 1948 and were prevented from returning to their land.

    The State of Israel should not be supported diplomatically or militarily by Australians.
    The ALP and Libs unquestioningly support Israel in the UN, but Australia`s most important contribution is the US bases which it hosts, and which feed information to the Israeli military- but of course not to the Palestinians.

    Israel was created undemocratically. The vast majority of the 1.6million people who lived there in 1948 was Arab, and had there been democratic elections then, there would have been no state of Israel. Their opposition to partition was entirely justified and reasonable- regardless of what the UN said. The UN in any case did not then include countries subsequently given their freedom from European empires, so it was hardly representative of anything except European imperialism.

    Yes, Israel was attacked by the surrounding Arab states- but only after the civil war was underway. Even this attack must be seen in the context of mutual regional co-operation by Arabs. The Zionist vision of Biblical Israel took in parts of Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan, and even Iraq. In any case, such an attack does not disentitle the Palestinians to their land.

    That all lies at the heart of Arab opposition to Israel as a Jewish state. Quite apart from this, uncomfortable facts challenge Israel`s claim to moral supremacy.

    Israel attacked the Arab states in 1956. Israel launched a pre-emptive strike in 1967, grabbing the Occupied Territories from Jordan and Egypt. I have read that Ezer Weizmann, head of the Air Force, as well as Menahem Begin, both wrote that there was no serious threat to Israel at the time. Yes, the Arab states attacked in 1973. Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, Israel attacked Palestinians and Lebanese without any restraint or thought for civilian welfare. 'Doves' such as Peres and Rabin, as well as Begin and Sharon. And Israel continues its cruel occupation and oppression of Palestinians now, and doesnt give a damn about civilians when it retaliates disproportionately against the unsophisticated Palestinian threats to them.

    Iran is a threat because it is seeking nuclear weapons, but Israel has had over 100 since the 1960s, and was ready to wheel them out to defend itself in the 1973 war.

    Israel is based on racial discrimination. Any Jew can get citizenship unconditionally. Any of the Arabs who lived there but left in 1948 cannot. Those Arabs and their descendants total 5 million, and have more right to live there than Jews who settled subsequently. Those Arabs generally did not take part in the war of 1948. By definition, they did not threaten the lives of Jews.

    Naturally, the Jews had to defend themselves in that war. No-one says that that means that they cannot live there. But Zionist argument says that the Arabs who fled somehow lost their right to live in their homes.

    I believe that land in Israel can be bought freely by Jews, but that Arabs cannot buy land from Jews or any of the non-private land which is held by the Jewish Agency.

    Almost all of the land held by the Jewish Agency was confiscated from the original Palestine. Hundreds of Arab villages were completely destroyed by the Israelis. Bedouins were driven off their pastoral lands.Very little was actually bought by Jews. Yes, much of the land was not settled. However, at the time, most of the habitable, arable land was used by Arabs. When Jews did settle, very few went to the uninhabitable swampland or dry rocky places, but many settled on or opposite land occupied by Arabs.

    Palestine was not "empty". It was not " a land without a people", as Golda Meir liked to say. Technology has improved greatly since then to allow much more of the land to be used- as is the case in Jordan, too.

    Israel fosters a sense of group identity which creates discrimination amongst Jews which would not be tolerated in Australia. Non-religious and religious Jews often hate and abuse each other. Arabic Jews and European Jews are at odds. In schools, in the street, in shops, in hospitals.

    Yes, there is baseless, deep-rooted hatred of Jews in Arab culture. I object to that. And probably many would slaughter Israeli Jews if they had the chance. Obviously I object to that, too.

    Yes, the Jews suffered in World War 2, and I can understand why many would therefore not want to live in a country where they are a minority group. I just cannot support them. I also resent the way they have commandeered the whole notion of "Holocaust" and "genocide", dominating the media with depictions of Jewish suffering, crowding out those of other groups.

    I am not religious but I tolerate religions, and any other viewpoints, as part of our society. That is the way forward.

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