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.

Is Washington’s peace process over?

My latest New Matilda column is about the failure of the two-state solution:

With hopes for a two-state solution waning, the resignation of Mahmoud Abbas is prompting new calls for a one-state solution, writes Antony Loewenstein

The decision of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to resign and not stand in proposed January elections is a blessing in disguise. Perhaps now, after years of futile “negotiations” between the Palestinian Authority, Israel and America, we can declare the official, Washington-backed “peace process” dead. It has achieved nothing. No freedom for Palestinians, no end to the occupation and no independent Palestinian leadership.

But Abbas’ apparent decision (or threat) to leave his post has necessarily focused the minds of many officials across the world on the shortcomings of the present negotiations.

President Barack Obama, through various speeches and public pronouncements against ongoing Israeli settlements, clearly convinced Abbas that he was in a strong bargaining position. But, like every US president before him, Obama and his team are now mouthing the Israeli line.

It’s ironic that Abbas, a leader backed, funded and armed by the US, would expect to be treated as anything other than a useful idiot. The Western media went along with this fiction for years, framing Abbas as an independent player when he was the exact opposite. Palestinian bloggers remain unimpressed with the kind of Palestinian leadership on offer.

Obama’s chief of staff Rahm Emanuel said just this week that, “all issues should be resolved through negotiations. No one should allow the issue of settlements to distract from the overarching goal of lasting peace”. It’s unclear how peace can be achieved while colonies continue to expand and settler violence and incitement is ignored. Indeed, the US State Department recently released a report that found profound intolerance within Israeli society.

The Palestinian Authority has always been a compromised body. Set up in the 1990s as a way for the international community to fund and back a compliant and weak Palestinian elite, political progress was only ever achieved at the rhetorical level. While it is true, as Bernard Avishai argued recently in Harpers, that economic progress has occurred in parts of the West Bank, being able now to go to the cinema in Nablus does not replace an end to settlement building or truly viable Palestinian institutions.

Saeb Erekat, the Western-friendly chief Palestinian negotiator, spoke with the New York Times this week. He said, “I think he [Abbas] is realizing that he came all this way with the peace process in order to create a Palestinian state, but he sees no state coming”. Erekat told Israeli daily Ynet that the only alternative left to the Palestinians was to “refocus their attention on the one-state solution where Muslims, Christians and Jews can live as equals. It is very serious. This is the moment of truth for us”.

Martin Indyk, vice president of the Brookings Institution and an adviser to George Mitchell, Obama’s envoy to the Middle East, was pessimistic and implied that the two-state solution was dead. “At the end of the day”, he told the New York Times, “I fear that the United States, Israel and the Arabs will fall short of meeting Abu Mazen’s [Mahmoud Abbas] requirements for staying on. More than likely, we are entering a new era.”

This is a defining moment. I agree with Steve Walt, co-author of The Israel Lobby, who outlined this week what this new reality could look like:

“Israel is going to get what it has long sought: permanent control of the West Bank (along with de facto control over Gaza). The Palestinian Authority is increasingly irrelevant and may soon collapse, General Keith Dayton’s mission to train reliable and professional Palestinian security forces will end, and Israel will once again have full responsibility for some 5.2 million Palestinian Arabs under its control.”

Indefinite occupation looks like the only game in town: the Obama administration is walking into a nightmare it has helped come to life. Allowing Israel free reign to maintain the status quo can lead to a few possible outcomes. Simply talking about the two-state solution — and wishing Hamas would just disappear — appears to be the grand plan of the moment.

Meanwhile, back in reality, demographics and global public opinion are running strongly against Zionist interests. Long-term supporters of the two-state equation are starting to panic. Even reliable American commentators are talking about withholding US aid to the Jewish state.

The French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said this week that Israelis no longer seem interested in peace. The US Ambassador to Israel, James B Cunningham, recently acknowledged during a speech at Tel Aviv University that the “status quo is not sustainable” — but offered no solutions except unqualified backing for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

While the media in Israel and beyond became excited about the White House’s supposed symbolic rebuke of Netanyahu during his recent fleeting visit to Washington, such meaningless stories mask the ritual humiliation of Abbas. They also mask that Hamas is being ignored and the deepening of the occupation: all signs of full support for the Zionist agenda. For example, nobody has criticised Israeli plans to once again invade Gaza, something strongly implied by a senior Israeli official, according to this recent article in Haaretz.

A few commentators in Israel seem alert to the cliff Israel is approaching — Akiva Eldar in Haaretz is a key example — but it’s hard to find many Zionists willing to accept the ramifications of the two-state failure. Blaming the Arabs is a full-time profession for many Israelis. It takes an outside voice, such as the Financial Times, to tell Israelis that they are embarking on a “project of national suicide”.

Abbas is a bit-player in this drama. If it wasn’t him, somebody else would be appointed to his position. It doesn’t really matter. The Palestinian people won’t trust any leader who talks about negotiations but watches their land being swallowed up by Jewish colonies.

Hamas are left to observe from the sidelines, seemingly unable to receive international legitimacy (something they say they want) even though they are now publicly backing a two-state solution, if supported by the bulk of the Palestinian people in a referendum. Their role in any elections held next year is unclear. Not being Fatah or the Palestinian Authority may help, but Gazans are suffering and many blame Hamas for their predicament (even though Israel and Egypt are both blocking the borders into the Strip).

Inevitably, the prospect of the end of the Jewish state has resulted in some desperate calls. Kadima leadership hopeful Shaul Mofaz has called for a Palestinian state with negotiable borders within a year and Palestinian Prime Minister Salaam Fayyad, according to Haaretz, has told Washington that he will declare a Palestinian state within 1967 borders by 2011. Such a move would “likely transform any Israeli presence across the Green Line, even in Jerusalem, into an illegal incursion to which the Palestinians would be entitled to engage in measures of self-defence”.

The elephant in the room is the one-state solution, currently unimaginable to most Israeli Jews and the Zionist Diaspora but growing in global legitimacy. Ali Abunimah explained recently how to convince sceptical players that South Africa is the ideal model to copy in the Middle East. When the legal editor of Israel’s leading daily, Yediot, calls his country’s behaviour in the West Bank “apartheid”, it’s understandable why a single, democratic state that includes rights and responsibilities for all is emerging as a viable option. Separated Bantustans, the only possible two-state solution with half a million illegal settlers now in the West Bank, is morally and legally unacceptable.

The likely departure of Abbas, either in the coming months or some time soon after, only matters because it has forced even the most traditional Palestinian leaders to consider advocating a one-state solution.

Zionists and the Western powers will have a hard time countering a campaign that simply equates one person with one vote — no matter their religion or race.

3 comments ↪
  • Pingback: More on political fancy and one state/two states()

  • Long overdue is an analysis of alternative visions of what a One-State solution would look like, including: (a) a Swiss type pattern, with ethnic/linguistic sub-areas; (b) one or the other of a few  Condominium patterns, such as New Caledonia writ large,  in which both Israel and Palestine would share the same territory; (c) a Confederation whose laws could be vetoed by the legislature of either Palestine &_/or Israel; (d) one of a few other types of Confederation;  (e) a Consociation, now sometimes associated with Northern Ireland; (f) a Federalist arrangement, on the order of the US,  or other  varieties like Germany, Canada, Malysia, etc.; (g) other. 

        

  • This is a fascinating article. I agree with your very persuasive analysis. The “one state solution” sounds logical, attractive, and achievable. But there is also another possibility: The Palestinian Authority could unilaterally declare the independence of Palestine, just as people of Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008. The United States and the EU supported the creation of Kosovo, so I believe they would find it rather hard to oppose the action when Palestinians adopt it. But the truth remains: The truth is that when it pertains to Israel, having a double standard is the norm, not the exception. When the Hamas send crude rockets into Israel, it is called terrorism; but when Israel fires its precise missiles into Gaza, it’s called self defense, even though per international law, an occupying force can not claim self defense.

    Thank you very much for writing this article. It was a joy to read.

    Yesh Prabhu, Plainsboro, NJ