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.

What it means to advocate the ‘Sri Lanka model’ for Israel/Palestine

My following article is published on US website Mondoweiss:

It is easy to frame the conflict in Israel and Palestine as inherently unique. In many ways it is – decades-old occupation, US-supported racial discrimination and failure of Western journalism to hold the powerful to account – but other struggles have eerie similarities.

This year Sri Lanka militarily defeated the Tamil Tigers, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). It was a brutal war, killed close to 100,000 people over a three-decade period and resulted in a humanitarian crisis of around 300,000 displaced Tamils. Both sides committed war crimes but the regime in Colombo was accused of shelling hospitals and civilian areas in the closing months of the war. My partner’s father was under the bombs in the north-east of the country and he tells of aerial bombardment on make-shift medical centres. It was hell on earth. Up to 50,000 Tamils were murdered.

The Elders, including Jimmy Carter, Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandela, condemned the atrocities and were predictably smeared by the government.

Sri Lanka was an early adopter of George W. Bush’s “war on terror” architecture and placed its struggle against the Tamil insurgency as a noble war against ruthless killers. Colombo received arms and backing from India, China, Israel and unleashed overwhelming miliary firepower against the LTTE. The result was unsurprising, though the EU and Washington condemned the brutal tactics employed.

But this feigned Western concern for Tamil human rights must be seen in the context of political influence. Analyst Sergei DeSilva-Ranasinghe writes in The Diplomat that the, “conflict also shed light on a bitter geopolitical struggle taking place against the backdrop of the declining influence of the West and the emerging influence of India and China”.

Enter Zionism.

In early December the Jerusalem Post published an article that advocated Israel follow the lead of Sri Lanka to eradicate its “terrorism” problem:

“The Tamil Tigers , sometimes referred to by its full name, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), resembled Middle East terror groups. Actually, it is more correct to say that Middle East terror groups resemble the Tamil Tigers, as the Tigers introduced many of the techniques subsequently used by Israel’s enemies. They invented the suicide belt and perfected the suicide bombing attack, turning it into a tactical device. They were the first to use women and children in these attacks. And they have been accused of using their own innocent civilians as human shields. They are a vicious crowd, and were implicated in the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi of India in 1991. As we all know, the Palestinians have imitated these tactics with devastating brutality.

“The Sri Lankans had more or less lived with this horror since 1983. Then 9/11 happened and a new dynamic, promoted by president George W. Bush and the United States, gave the Sri Lankans a new outlook. With a new administration elected on the promise of stopping the LTTE permanently, the country embarked on a full-scale military assault. It sent its army, much stronger than the Tamil tigers, into Tamil-occupied territory and began to take back town by town, going street to street in some cases, and killing anyone who resisted.

“Jehan Perera of the Sri Lankan Peace Council said, ‘This government has taken the position that virtually any price is worth paying to rid the country of terrorism.’

“The price paid was indeed a heavy one. Many innocent people died. The Sri Lankan government deeply regrets the killing of innocent civilians, but most government officials believe they made a conscious choice to pay that price, and that the alternative status quo was simply no longer acceptable.”

The writer goes on to explain that Israel should cease “political correctness” and destroy the Palestinians once and for all:

“The time has come to admit that there might not be a solution to the Palestinian problem, but there is a way to end it. The next time terror forces Israel to take military action, this option should be considered. Israel must realize that there will be no peace with an intransigent enemy that refuses to act in good faith. Palestinian rejectionism and Iranian-backed Hizbullah threats to our existence will never be placated; they will not stop until Israel is destroyed. Once the population realizes this unfortunate reality, there is only one way to change it. Israel must take the Sri Lankan initiative and move into these areas one by one, cornering, enveloping and killing off all armed resistance.

“Bending over backward to make peace with the Palestinians has proven fruitless. It’s time to make the choice of a better life for all. More than 60 years of living with this is enough. When we have completely wiped out this enemy, a new dynamic will rise. Without the Muslim thugs holding their own people back, there will be nothing to stop them from negotiating genuine peace. There might be a Palestinian, a Lebanese, a Syrian, maybe even an Iranian peace partner which will transform the Middle East from a charnel house of hatred and bloodshed to a prosperous community of nations working together to make the daily lives of all their citizens better.”

This neo-conservative worldview dictates advocating genocide in the deluded hope that Arabs will feel so defeated that they simply accept Israeli rule. It’s a position also shared by Daniel Pipes:

“The Palestinians must be made to understand in the deepest recesses of their consciousness that they are a defeated people.”

A closer examination of Sri Lanka’s methods reveals a disregard for civilian casualties far greater than the IDF crimes during the 2008/2009 Gaza war. There are serious allegations of Tamil Tigers surrendering under a white flag and being mowed down by soldiers. A forthcoming “People’s Permanent Tribunal” meeting in Dublin will investigate a range of alleged crimes during the conflict and feature testimony from eyewitnesses, the UN and EU.

Colombo’s clear policy during the war was a masterful exercise in avoidance and remarkably similar to Israel’s tactics during the Gaza onslaught. Journalists, most human rights workers and independent observers were barred from the combat zone. Any criticism of Sri Lanka’s behaviour was labelled as supporting “terrorism.”

When the roughly 300,000 Tamils were interned in concentration camps after the war and held against their will – most were conditionally released last week though with restricted freedom of movement and ongoing monitoring of their lives – new friends Iran and China remained silent, while South Africa praised the Sri Lanka’s supposed commitment to human rights.

Even Washington, in a just released report, urges a more conciliatory approach. “US policy towards Sri Lanka cannot be dominated by a single agenda”, it reads. “It is not effective at delivering real reform, and it short-changes US geo-strategic interests in the region”.

Less than six months after the end of the conflict, the London Times reported this week that a re-branded insurgency is brewing (assuming, of course, this isn’t a black ops story planted by the government):

“A Marxist group of Tamil militants with connections to the Palestinian Liberation Organisation and Cuba is preparing to mount a new insurgency in Sri Lanka six months after the Government declared an end to the 26-year-old war there.

“The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) was founded in eastern Sri Lanka four months ago and has vowed to launch attacks against government and military targets unless its demands for a separate Tamil homeland are met.

“’This war isn’t over yet,’ Commander Kones, head of the PLA’s Eastern District military command, told The Times during a night meeting in a safe house in the east of the country last week.

“’There has been no solution for Tamils since the destruction of the LTTE [Tamil Tigers] in May. So we have built and organised the PLA and are ready to act soon. Our aim is a democratic socialist liberation of the northeast for a Tamil Eelam [the desired Tamil state].’”

A disenfranchised people will continue to strive for independence and self-determination. The Tamils have been wishing for a homeland for decades due to the government’s ongoing discrimination against them. The Palestinians have also been denied natural justice since 1947.

Advocating the Sri Lanka model as an effective way of fighting terrorism is an attractive prospect for those who believe in obliterating the concepts of human rights and proportionality in international law. Israel is unwilling to negotiate in good faith with her opponents, guaranteeing ongoing resistance. The Tamils have fewer global friends but their struggle is just as necessary.

Sri Lanka, like Israel, should be shunned until it acknowledges the rights of its minority to equal rights before the law.

Antony Loewenstein is a Sydney based journalist and author of My Israel Question and The Blogging Revolution. He is on the advisory council of the UK-based Sri Lanka Campaign for Peace and Justice.

one comment ↪
  • Christos A.

    There is another conflict that seems to have been modelled on Israel/Palestine and one not talked about very much in western media. Armenia has followed Israel's example in Nagorno-Karabakh occupying that region and seven other Azerbaijani districts to create a corridor into Armenia from Karabakh. Countless UN resolutions to withdraw have fallen on deaf ears. And just like Israel, there is a strong Armenian lobby in the US. Who else will say "Hey if Israel can do it and get away with it, why can't we?".