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.

Gaza’s suffering is Israel’s shame

My following article is published today by the Sydney Morning Herald/The Age:

The 85-year-old Jewish, anti-Zionist, Holocaust survivor Hedy Epstein is a sturdy looking woman. Her slightly hunched frame hides the determination to continue a life-long dedication to social justice.

This week in Cairo she joined close to 1400 international delegates on the Gaza Freedom March (GFM), a project aimed at ending the suffocating blockade on Gaza. Epstein launched a hunger strike alongside about 50 others to highlight the human rights abuses in Palestine and Israeli and Egyptian collusion in the humanitarian crisis for the Strip’s 1.5 million population.

GFM steering committee member Dr Haidar Eid, based in Gaza, said that the “deadly, hermitic siege” had only tightened after Israel’s Operation Cast Lead in December 2008/January 2009.

Epstein told The Age that she refused to remain silent as a Jew when, “Israel was committing crimes against the Palestinian people. I often receive hate-mail from Jews over my public stance, being called a self-hating Jew and worse, but I ignore them.”

Citizens from 42 countries, including America, Venezuela, Cameroon, Ireland, Australia, Britain, Japan and Libya descended on Cairo on December 27 with the hope of leaving for the Egyptian/Gaza border the following day. Organised by American peace group Code Pink, prominent delegates included leading American legal advocate Michael Ratner, European members of parliament and co-founder of the Electronic Intifada website Ali Abunimah.

The Egyptian regime blocked access for the mission, citing “security” concerns, and refused to grant entry visas to the assembled group. Cairo’s position, undoubtedly backed by its masters the US and Israel, condemned most of the marchers as “hoodlums” and “criminals”. In fact, many participants were the elderly and the religious and non-violent, Gandhian tactics were the central ideology.

I attended the week-long event, as a Jew, human being and journalist, and never heard any mention of incitement from the delegates. Instead, it was clear that Palestine had become a key concern for citizens across the globe, dismayed that the Western political elites continued to support Israeli aggression. The Jewish state’s very legitimacy is being challenged like never before.

A key concern of the GFM was establishing closer global links between civil communities. The Congress of South African Trade Unions held a meeting with various individuals and shared stories about its own ultimately successful struggle against apartheid. A leader from the metal worker’s union intended to educate his delegates about the importance of boycotting Israeli products. “During apartheid we labelled certain products with a label that excluded its export,” he said. “We can do the same thing with Israeli products if they arrive on our shores.”

The term “apartheid Israel” wasn’t controversial in these circles; it was simply used as an accurate description of Israel’s occupation of Palestinian land.

The humanitarian situation in Gaza remains desperate and the GFM aimed to highlight the plight to the international community. On the one-year anniversary of Israel’s latest assault, according to Israeli human rights group Gisha, “87 million litres of untreated or partially treated sewage is dumped into the sea daily for lack of electricity and spare parts”.

The Gazan people are being collectively punished to pressure the democratically elected Hamas Government. It seems to be failing. During my visit to the Strip in July last year, I constantly heard complaints towards the Islamist organisation but they’ve only increased their grip on the territory in the past 12 months.

The GFM was faced with a dilemma. The focus was supposed to be Gaza but Cairo’s intransigence forced them to find creative ways to protest peacefully in a country where the gathering of more than a few people is deemed illegal.

Mass demonstrations were held outside the UN building, the Journalist’s Syndicate and about 300 French citizens camped for three days outside the French Embassy, surrounded by hundreds of Egyptian riot police. One of their leaders told me one night, as we snaked past sleeping bags, tents, mattresses and aching bodies, that, “we are only sacrificing our comfort while the people of Gaza have been suffering for years”.

A small Australian delegation was granted a meeting with the Australian ambassador, Stephanie Shwabsky, who said she found the situation “utterly tragic”, but could only pledge to push the tired, unworkable formulas offered by the Rudd Government and the Obama Administration.

On the last day of the GFM, after a handful of delegates were granted entry to Gaza, about 500 protested in Cairo’s central Tahir square. The state’s security forces dragged, kicked, punched and groped a number of us, causing a few broken ribs and bloody noses, but we stood firm for about five hours.

Participants wore T-shirts with the words, “The audacity of war crimes”, “Boycott Israel” and “Free Gaza”, the sheer range of countries represented and the backgrounds of those present reflecting the internationalisation of the Middle East conflict.

Antony Loewenstein is a Sydney journalist and the author of My Israel Question and The Blogging Revolution

one comment ↪
  • Great piece. But it wasnt really on the last day of GFM now was it?  The day after the Tahir Square (Free Gaza Square) demonstration, we protested outside the Israeli consulat. And there I heard two of the very young militarypolice(?) whisper "boycott Israel" after we had chanted that.

    The good things that came out of this is : the solidarity amongst people from different countries and religions and of course the Cairo-declaration. But it was also a trip of a lot of shortcomings. But some day well win.