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.

Secrets and lies between friends over Mossad murder

My following article is published today on ABC Unleashed/The Drum:

Israel is a protected species in the international arena. Many Western states, including Australia, have long tolerated behaviour by the Jewish state that is condemned if committed by any other democracy.

This reality makes the current scandal over the alleged Mossad hit last month in Dubai of a senior Hamas operative, Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, all the more fascinating. The Palestinian militant may be dead but Israel’s reputation and credibility have taken a severe beating. The Israeli press are reporting that up to a third of a key Mossad hit squad may have been compromised.

Australia has a long history of bi-partisan support for the Jewish state but I can’t recall another time when the Prime Minister and Foreign Minister have expressed such public outrage over Israel’s apparent use of Australian passports to cover their tracks in the Dubai murder. This is despite a Jerusalem Post columnist insisting that, “it behoves Western democracies not to lose sight of the fact there are instances in which ends do justify means”.

In this case, Australia apparently does not agree. Smith said he told Israel’s Australian ambassador, Yuval Rotem, that, “if the abuse of Australian passports was in any way sponsored or condoned by Israeli officials, then Australia would not regard that as the act of a friend.” Rudd was equally indignant though refused to specify what action might be taken if Israel did not co-operate. Senior ministers in both the ALP and Liberal party were equally vague on ABC’s Lateline on Friday.

Perhaps an early indication of Canberra’s anger was seen in a vote in the UN last week that saw Australia abstain from backing Israel against the serious allegations contained in the Goldstone Report related to allegations of war crimes in Gaza. This is a change from months of unqualified backing for Israel’s onslaught against Gaza in late 2008/early 2009.

The headline of an article by Sydney Morning Herald journalist Peter Hartcher summed up the mood: “Betrayed PM should not be taken for granted by Israel”. The Age‘s Diplomatic Editor Daniel Flitton argued that, “a long friendship is on the line”.

Not so fast. Canberra is apparently upset that Israel has abused its deep friendship. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government probably presumed that a strong ally such as Australia would be unfazed by the abuse of its passport system or more likely hoped it would never become public. An Israeli official, anonymously of course, told the conservative Washington Times that the revelation of Mossad’s behaviour in Dubai would not affect intelligence sharing between Israel and the West.

But a former Australian Middle East ambassador, Ross Burns, is pleasantly surprised by the Rudd government’s strong line. It is time, he writes, that Australia matures and gets past its “smitten” love affair with the Jewish state.

It is possible that Australia will briefly downgrade its relationship with Mossad, as Canada did after the botched assassination attempt in 1997 of Hamas leader Khaled Mashal using fake Canadian passports, but backing Israel for Australia is too central to its complicity with the US alliance to seriously question or radically change.

A better example may be New Zealand in 2004, when then Prime Minister Helen Clark discovered Israeli agents trying to steal the country’s passports and suspended diplomatic relations until an apology was forthcoming.

Countless reports have emerged over the years of Israeli allegedly using Australian passports as cover for covert activities but successive Australian governments have never fully pursued the leads. The public should ask why.

The Australia/Israel relationship is not based on shared values, as constantly stated by the elites in both countries. Instead, Canberra’s usual blind backing of Israeli actions is directly related to the relationship with Washington. If US President Barack Obama suddenly cut all aid to the Jewish state due to its intransigence, rest assured Australia would follow. Our foreign policy in the Middle East is not independent.

But there is no doubt that Kevin Rudd, like most Prime Ministers before him, view Israel as a unique state deserving special privileges. Former Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser said on the weekend that Rudd must take a much harder line on Netanyahu.

The Holocaust could no longer be used to justify acts of terrorism in the name of supposed security, he argued: “That happened 65-66 years ago and it cannot be used any longer to prevent proper discussion of Israel’s policies when those policies are counter-productive to world peace. To suggest that those who are critical are anti-Semitic – I reject that utterly.”

Others, such as The Australian‘s Greg Sheridan, applauded the murder of the Hamas leader but asked Israel to be more careful next time. In other words, don’t get caught with blood on your hands.

Outright condemnation of Israeli actions has risen in the mainstream press. Amin Saikal in the Sydney Morning Herald accused Israel of committing state terrorism and The Age claimed Israel had “lost friends” over the scandal.

Extra-judicial killings are a central feature of the “war on terror” and Israel is only one of its supporters. The Bush administration (along with the Obama White House) strongly backed the concept of assassinating individuals deemed to be “terrorists” in countries such as Yemen, Pakistan and Afghanistan. Salon’s Glenn Greenwald articulates the largely hidden program:

“Barack Obama, like George Bush before him, has claimed the authority to order American citizens murdered based solely on the unverified, uncharged, unchecked claim that they are associated with Terrorism and pose ‘a continuing and imminent threat to U.S. persons and interests.’ They’re entitled to no charges, no trial, no ability to contest the accusations.”

A robust democracy would not allow the executive to engage in wanton killing in the name of eliminating “terrorists” but little has been discussed in Australia that acknowledges the fundamental problems with this post 9/11 reality (despite the occasional exception).

Israel’s actions over the Hamas murder are deplorable and must be fully investigated (and Washington pressured to join the hunt for clues). The image of Israel in the wider Australian society has inevitably taken a welcome hit but it remains highly unlikely that the political and media elites will implement the obvious implications of the latest affair; Israeli behaviour in the Middle East and the occupied territories are not the sign of a responsible or democratic nation.

one comment ↪
  • Mary

    Here's an interesting article, in the WSJ of all places, where they track 2 of the suspects, a Brit and an Irishman, traveling to the US after the murder.  They name names.  It looks like the US Government is helping to keep Israel's wound festering by placing stories in elite US media.  Meanwhile, Israel continues to yelp that there's nothing to see here.