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.

The Israel lobby strikes back

Speaking of “journalists” who love Israel like an old wine; juicy if you know where to lick but corrupt to the core. Over to you, Murdoch columnist Greg Sheridan:

The Australia-Israel relationship, normally a byword for geostrategic stability and enduring human warmth, has had some stormy passages lately.

The use of Australian passports by the agents, presumably from Mossad, who assassinated a Hamas terrorist in Dubai led to unusually strong criticism of Israel from Kevin Rudd and Stephen Smith. Australia changed its vote from oppose to abstain at the UN on a resolution requiring Israel and Hamas to investigate alleged war crimes as demanded in the widely discredited Goldstone report. This was a clear if unstated punishment of Israel for the passports breach.

Then there were needlessly energetic comments by Foreign Minister Smith condemning Israel over the recent announcement of 1600 new housing units to be built in East Jerusalem, on which more later.

This makes it all the more remarkable, and reassuring, that Smith yesterday hosted a bipartisan ceremony to accept a report – prepared by the Australia Israel Leadership Forum, founded by Melbourne businessman Albert Dadon – with recommendations for enhancing the Australia-Israel relationship.

The forum, in which I have participated, brings together a range of Israelis and Australians for annual strategic dialogue in the broadest sense. The Australian delegation in its two meetings has been led by Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wrote a letter endorsing the work of the forum and saying he will consider its recommendations.

The report makes four important suggestions.

The first is that Australian military staff colleges should host Israeli officers. This is a brilliant idea. Our staff colleges routinely host Arab officers and this is all to the good. We deploy a lot of Australian forces in and around the Middle East and, as a result, we have developed effective working relations with a number of Arab militaries. But we are a strategic and political ally of Israel. The absence of Israelis from these courses is a serious gap and has a small but ongoing effect on our military culture.

Arab and Israeli officers routinely attend US staff colleges together. It’s good for both of them. They have to put up with each other if they want the benefit of American military staff colleges. It helps dialogue all around and it gives expression to the true nature of the US-Israel relationship. There is absolutely no reason Australia should not do this.

I would add a recommendation the report leaves out. Australia should have an annual or biennial full strategic dialogue with Israel. We do have very high level intelligence exchanges but, given the depth of our investment in the Middle East, we should also exchange deep and wide strategic views. We could learn something, and perhaps we could teach something. Our military work in Afghanistan is overwhelmingly among civilian populations, just as is most of Israel’s military involvement. Operationally, ethically, in every way we have things to talk about.

Recommendation No 2 is for a free trade agreement. This is also a brilliant idea. Australian trade with Israel is small, just about $1 billion a year. But Israel is a world leader in innovation and commercialisation. We could and should do much more together.

Third, Israel’s experience with improving Bedouin health and Australia’s struggle to do the same with Aboriginal health ought to be the basis for co-operation, comparison and mutual teaching.

Finally, the report recommends auditing and giving life to the plethora of bilateral agreements that have become moribund through the years. This is a practical and very useful document.

Smith reiterated at its launch that despite recent controversies there has been no change in Australia’s deep friendship with and commitment to Israel.

Smith did the right thing by accepting the report, committing the government to considering it seriously and reiterating Australia’s support for Israel.

And Opposition Deputy Leader Julie Bishop supported him on behalf of the Coalition.

Overall, the Rudd government displays only marginally less solidarity with Israel than the Howard government did. It has changed a couple of Australian votes at the UN, but not many. No one seriously doubts that this is an attempt, almost certainly forlorn, to curry favour with the Arab League in our quixotic and pointless quest for a non-permanent UN Security Council seat. This worthless bid is distorting our foreign policy, but so far mainly at the margins.

Similar considerations probably animate Smith’s overreaction to the 1600 Israeli apartments to be built, in three years, in East Jerusalem. This is in some eerie ways a minor imitation of the Obama administration’s gross overreaction. Whereas the Rudd government is courting votes for a tawdry UN election, Barack Obama plainly sees the quest to redefine the US relationship with the Muslim world as central to his historic mission, and part of this involves dumping on the Israelis.

Thus the Palestinian Authority for 12 months refused to negotiate with Israel; that was fine. It then named a square after a female suicide bomber who killed 37 civilians, including 13 children. No hint of a US rebuke there. But Israel announcing the apartments is apparently the end of Middle East peace as we know it.

Don’t get me wrong. I think the Israeli government was extremely stupid to announce the apartments while US Vice-President Joe Biden was visiting Israel. But Netanyahu’s temporary freeze on building in the West Bank never included East Jerusalem. There are Jewish parts of East Jerusalem that every serious player knows will stay with Israel in any peace deal. They were staying with Israel under the Bill Clinton mandated offer to the Palestinians in 2000, and under the even more generous plan put by Ehud Olmert in 2008.

In other words, as usual, Israel got the public relations and political management wrong but the substance right. The Obama administration was notably unmoved by rape and murder as a political tactic in Iran; is offering endless concessions to Syria, which treats Washington with studied contempt; and will never criticise the Palestinian Authority. It is developing a very bad tendency to constantly flatter its enemies in the fantastical hope of engaging and converting them, while abusing its friends, to show its even-handedness.

Canberra has no need to go down that same road.

This useful report helps it choose a better road instead.

4 comments ↪
  • peter

    Sheridan says the "Goldstone Report" is "widely discredited". Discredited by whom exactly? He states this plainly, without comment, as though everyone agrees with him about the report.  Surely its just Israel firsters who dont like the findings in the report and its recommendations, who believe it to be discredited but they would say that wouldnt they?

  • Kevin Charles Herber

     

    I agree Peter.

    "B.A" Sheridan writes the kind of disinformed drivel that you get from the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies' Vic Ahladeef that appeared in the Opinion column in this week's SMH.

    It doesn't matter that the 'facts' they regurgigate as truth have been discredited for months/years…it's onward Christian (Zionist) soldiers for these functionaries.

    They are either delusional, bigoted or just plain liars…and to think that Rudd & Gillard & Abbott support them…..

  • ej

    Sheridan is on a par with the anti-Semitic polemicists in Europe of the late 19th century. Much adulated at the time, now despised.

    Palestinians are the new Jews.

    Sheridan is a gauleiter for ethnic cleansing. 

    How did the Holocaust against Jewry happen? How does Sheridan get to write this stuff and be legitimated? Common questions, common answers.

    Sheridan should be drummed out of business. But of course he is the mouthpiece of officialdom.

    Not even the late 19th century anti-Jewry writers had this degree of elite support.

    Never again?

  • Marilyn

    Sheridan is a paid shill for Jakarta and Israel.