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.

Liberal, Zionism prevarication allows occupation to continue

Independent Australian Jewish Voices (IAJV), which I co-founded in early 2007, continues to hum along and we have many plans for 2010.

A few weeks ago in the Australian Jewish News one-time journalist Michael Visontay – who has form in hand-wringing matters, sometimes feeling terribly pained about something or other in Israel but remaining utterly unwilling to do anything about it, a typical “liberal” Jew with no concept of what Israel really is today – wrote the following article:

The right to disagree with Israeli government policy has become, in many ways, even more controversial than the policies themselves. Over the past decade, a number of Jewish activists have railed against what they claim is a taboo, imposed by established pro-Israeli advocate groups, against any criticism of Israel.

First there was the Independent Jewish Voices in England, followed by similar groups in Europe and here, the Independent Australian Jewish Voices (IAJV). All these groups have attempted to widen the debate about the Middle East. But the English and Australian groups have touched a nerve and created a dilemma for many thoughtful, open-minded Jews.

In Australia, many people would like to see Israel’s policies more flexible, less aggressive and defensive, but they cannot bring themselves to support IAJV due to an underlying hostility in the group’s activism that unnerves them.

Now, a new group has emerged in America, called J Street -– the name referring to a missing street in the grid system of Washington DC, a nod to the missing voice in debate about Israeli policy. J Street is founded and supported by a broad range of American Jewish public figures.

Its call for more vigorous debate has attracted criticism from the heavy hitter of American Jewish advocacy, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.

From a global perspective, however, the significant thing about J Street is that it is clearly, unequivocally pro-Israel. J Street’s charter on its website reads: “J Street is the political arm of the pro-Israel, pro-peace movement. J Street was founded to promote meaningful American leadership to end the Arab-Israeli and Israeli-Palestinian conflicts peacefully and diplomatically. We support a new direction for American policy in the Middle East.

“J Street represents Americans, primarily but not exclusively Jewish, who support Israel and its desire for security as the Jewish homeland, as well as the right of the Palestinians to a sovereign state of their own.”

The IAJV’s statement of principles on its website reads: “We are Jews with diverse opinions on the Middle East who share a deep concern about the current crisis in the region, we are committed to ensuring a just peace that recognises the legitimate national aspirations of both Israelis and Palestinians with a solution that protects the human rights of all.

“We believe that Israel’s right to exist must be recognised and that Palestinians’ right to a homeland must also be acknowledged … We feel there is an urgent need to hear alternative voices that not be silenced by being labelled disloyal or ‘self-hating’ … in particular we are concerned that the Jewish establishment does not represent the full range of Jewish opinion.”

I have abridged the statement, but anyone who reads it in full on the website will notice that something is missing: a declaration that the IAJV is pro-Israel.

The IAJV recognises Israel’s right to exist, but does not say it is pro-Israel. This absence carries a significance far beyond words. It underscores the whole vibe, reportage, commentary and activism that has emanated from this group over the past few years. The group is characterised by a noticeable lack of empathy with Israel, beyond its criticism of successive governments and policy towards Palestinians.

There is no reason why any group of Jews has to declare itself pro-Israel, and the IAJV is entitled to be critical of the Israeli government. It refers to J Street on its site and sees the two as kindred spirits. But that absence of an underlying support for the country, the nation and the people permeates everything it does and says. Deep down, this is what rankles a substantial number of Australian Jews, and stops them from supporting the group.

J Street has illuminated why the temperature of discussion is so heated in Australia, why many have tried to ignore or dismiss the IAJV and why others have started their own response (such as The Sensible Jew, a blog started this year by two Melbourne women who wanted to present an alternative voice to both the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council and the IAJV).

Hopefully, J Street’s model can be used to help forge a new cast of public discussion in Australia. At the very least, it may loosen up a conversation that has been stifled by attention-seeking behaviour and name calling.

This week’s paper features the following letter in response:

Michael Visontay’s comparison of J Street and the Independent Australian Jewish Voices (IAJV) is both thoughtful and thought-provoking (AJN 13/11). But his analysis of why the IAJV “rankles a substantial number of Australian Jews, and stops them up from supporting the group”, in my view, fails to address two significant factors.

Visontay attributes the hostile attitude of many Australian Jews towards the IAJV to the group’s lack of an underlying support for Israel as both a country and a nation.

However, many Jewish Australians, from both the Centre and the Left, perceive the IAJV to be stridently anti-Israel in many of its public statements and activities, rather than merely lacking in empathy. Members of the IAJV may protest that this is not the group’s raison d’etre, but it is certainly the preoccupation of its most prominent spokespeople.

The second reason is because many of its members, especially those with a high public profile, have no apparent connection with Judaism or any facet of the Jewish community other than an accident of birth or family ties that they choose to parade when convenient.

A comparison of the membership of the J Street Advisory Council and the IAJV list of signatories is illuminating. J Street may be seen by some to be left-wing, dovish, avant-garde or naive, but it represents a large segment of the American Jewish community in all its glory and folly, whereas the IAJV represents a fringe, many of whom just happened to be born Jewish.

JONATHAN SLONIM
Caulfield North, Vic

Only a few words in response are required. It seems that many Zionists want to set acceptable boundaries of debate. So what if IAJV doesn’t say we’re “pro-Israel”? There are multiple ways to want to bring peace to the Midde East and many of our initiatives have included individuals who would proudly call themselves “Zionist.”

If you care about labels, then good for you. But what matters is ending the occupation and giving Palestinians full rights. Visontay and others need to come to terms with the fact that their silence and apathy over decades has allowed Israel to behave as it does. The occupation didn’t happen by accident. It required global, Jewish support. And now Israel has no intention of changing course.

Until there is a reckoning about all this and a mature debate that allows all views to be heard, internal angst and name-calling seems futile, at best.

one comment ↪
  • ej

    A cerifiable illness.

    If only a subject race wasn't dying and being dispossesssed because of it.

    Visontay: The right to disagree with Israeli government policy has become, in many ways, even more controversial than the policies themselves. …

    The IAJV recognises Israel’s right to exist, but does not say it is pro-Israel. This absence carries a significance far beyond words.

    One needs a right to disagree with tyranny? Who dispenses this right?

    And from Caulfield North, Australia's model ghetto, where the light has long ceased to penetrate:

    The second reason is because many of its members, especially those with a high public profile, have no apparent connection with Judaism.

    Neither does Israel. Israel has no apparent connection with Judaism. It is a secular colonial project.

    Ergo, what connection with judaism does the Israel lobby have?

    Sicko.