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.

Rudd helps the Middle East story remain one sided

My following story appears in today’s Crikey:

Last weekend the Australian’s foreign editor Greg Sheridan interviewed former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and provided a platform for him to defend the 2006 Lebanon war, 2008/09 Gaza war and reveal the “most extensive concessions any Israeli leader has ever brought to the table in the search for a settlement”. The Arab victims of these offensives were ignored.

There was no mention of the fact that Olmert was unlikely to visit certain European countries due to the risk of him being arrested for alleged war crimes or the fact that the Australian Parliament welcomed the man a few weeks before  American students had challenged Olmert’s speeches on multiple university campuses. Dozens were arrested for protesting Olmert’s presence as they attempted to make a citizen’s arrest against a figure facing serious corruption charges back in Israel.

For the Australian political elite, Israel is the sacred cow. There is no other country in the world, except the United States, that receives such uncritical and uninformed adulation. Virtually no politician wants to even acknowledge the reality of the brutal, military occupation on Palestinian lands. Or the fact that this week it was revealed in Haaretz that, “last year set an all-time record for the number of Arab residents of East Jerusalem who were stripped of residency rights by the Interior Ministry”. Ethnic cleansing by stealth.

Yesterday in Sydney the Australia Israel Leadership Forum held an invitation-only lunch at the exclusive Westin Hotel for the Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, Israeli Vice-Premier Silvan Shalom, recently appointed Opposition leader Tony Abbott and various Israeli politicians.

The Australian Jewish News reports that Shalom, “is in Australia this week for a series of meetings with government officials aimed at building relations between the two countries”.

The lack of transparency about the meetings — which politicians and journalists are attending, how many free trips to Israel they receive and what is expected in return for such hospitable Zionist service — is revealing and shameful. Most corporate journalists are happy to play the game. Crikey recently reported on the latest mainstream journalist to visit Israel.

Abbott led the cheer squad: “I’d like to think that nowhere in the world (does Israel) have more stauncher friends than us.” The 500-strong crowd lapped it up, equally happy to hear Shalom call for global action against Iran and Rudd talk about his government’s unshakeable commitment to “democratic” Israel.

SBS TV World News Australia last night reported on the lunch and noted the Prime Minister’s failure to acknowledge the Palestinians altogether. But the reporter framed the event around the hundreds of protesters outside who demanded the Israelis being feted inside face trials for alleged war crimes. The Jerusalem Post wrote that “hundreds of pro-Palestinian protesters” welcomed Shalom to Australia (in Sydney, not Canberra as the article alleged):

According to Army Radio, the protesters chanted slogans such as ‘Israel is a war criminal’ and ‘Silvan Shalom should not be allowed into Australia’.”

Crikey spoke to one of the key speakers at the rally, Coalition for Justice and Peace in Palestine’s Jennifer Killen, who said, “…as an Australian, I am deeply ashamed that our government is welcoming Shalom”. She went on to argue that Australia’s refusal to back the UN Goldstone report on Gaza was symptomatic of the hold Israeli state violence has on Australia.

A notable source of dissent was the powerful statement released on December 2 by the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union that demanded Australia refuse to welcome Israeli leaders with blood on their hands:

Shalom and Likud’s opposition to the (Goldstone) Report is no surprise given their strong support for the Israeli attack on Gaza in January this year and the ongoing blockade of Gaza by the Israeli Government. This blockade is preventing 100,000 Palestinians with homes destroyed by Israel from rebuilding, through stopping the importation of the necessary building materials from Israel.

In his other role as Minister for Regional Development, Shalom has overseen the continued expansion of illegal Israeli settlements on Palestinian land (watch his press conference urging Israeli’s to continue this process at:  Shalom even opposes the limited freeze on new West Bank settlements recently announced by his Government.”

Another Israeli visitor to Australia is Avi Dichter, accused by the distinguished US-based Centre for Constitutional Rights of “extrajudicial killing and war crimes” after the murder of Palestinians in Gaza in 2002.

In June Australia’s deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard was heavily lobbied not to visit Israel with the Australia Israel Leadership Forum. It was only six months after the Gaza war and a widely circulated petition (that I signed) read in part: “We consider this trip a dreadful affront to the many Palestinians left maimed, wounded, traumatised and homeless by Israel’s devastating assault on the Gaza Strip in late 08/early 09.”

In a democracy we should demand to know the real purpose of the Australia Israel Leadership Forum, led by influential Zionist and Rudd confidante Albert Dadon.

Crikey wanted to attend the gala lunch yesterday. After being rejected, then accepted, then rejected again (only “accredited” journalists were allowed, I was finally told), it seems such forums are content to ignore stark facts such as Israel’s recent reduction of essential cooking gas being allowed into the Gaza Strip.

Shalom told the Australian’s Greg Sheridan today that, “I really believe there is a friendship between the peoples of Israel and Australia, based on common values of democracy, freedom, human rights, the rule of law (and) Western culture”.

But increasingly, it seems that the Australian public doesn’t buy the spin.

Antony Loewenstein is a Sydney-based journalist and author of My Israel Question and The Blogging Revolution.

6 comments ↪
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  • MM

    absolutely spot on.  how can australia expect to be taken seriously by the rest of the world when it allows, ney, bends over to lap up such criminals…..but then again, as far as the govenrment is concerned, the rest of the world is the US and Israel…..

  • Marilyn

    We are more servile even than many of the Israeli's who hate Olmert and co. and want them tried as war criminals.

     It's seriously embarrassing.

  • It's  pathetic to see people clutching at Obama and Rudd  straws to keep them afloat on the cruel sea of political hypocrisy just because Howard and Bush have sailed away.
    Where there is trade and US , for successive Australia leaders, human rights and  Bonhoffer's  ethics are deftly and  pragmatically sacrificed .  Lest we  forget East Timor and now the suffering families in Israeli-occupied Palestine.

  • macida

    This obscene feting of war criminals is reminiscent of something from pre WW2 – and the lack of press interest and knowledge is alarming –  are our leaders saying that when Israel launches a strike on Iran Australia will be supporting it? Will we be locked up then for siding with Iran?

     The worst are full of passionate intensity again, – the real terrorists and the real threat to 'peace'.

  • Kevin Charles Herber

     

    Gaza Gillard & Rudd the Dud…consorting with accused war criminals……I still can't believe it…