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.

Overland branded biased by Jewish academics

My following article appears in today’s edition of Crikey:

Overland is a quarterly publication published in Melbourne since 1954 and aims to give, in the words of  editor Jeff Sparrow, “space for radicals and liberals”.

Over the past few years a handful of articles have appeared written by Jews (including me, principally on peak oil) that aimed to challenge the established view on Israel/Palestine. They were respectful of critics and urged a fresh way of seeing a conflict that continues to bleed lives and rationality in the diaspora.

In early May, six Jewish academics from some of Australia’s major universities wrote a letter to Overland and its board arguing that “biased and prejudiced coverage” could bring the journal into “serious disrepute”.

The letter stated that the Jewish Overland writers are “fundamentalists who advocate the elimination of Israel and its replacement by an Arab State of Greater Palestine” and these “marginal views … demonise Israel and infantilise the Palestinians”.

They demanded to know why “these vexatious voices who contribute only fanatical polemics and represent nobody in either the Jewish community or the Left” should be given any space in the magazine. It was urged that only individuals who “support two states” be allowed to appear.

Overland responded with a lengthy defence of its position and rejected the implied allegations of anti-Semitism:

“Almost by definition, our small magazine provides space for views that do not receive a hearing elsewhere … The notion that publishing minority views constitutes ‘censorship’ is truly bizarre.”

The magazine forensically examined the publishing record of the complainants and found regular columns in The Australian to espouse their views (some damning critics of Israel as “anti-Semites”).

Monash University’s Philip Mendes and Sydney University’s Nick Dyrenfurth have made particularly regular appearances in Murdoch’s broadsheet writing about the Middle East (despite neither of them having any academic credentials in the field.)

The journal highlighted the hypocrisy of the academic’s position:

“… we might equally ask Dyrenfurth and Mendes whether, with their avowed commitment to representation, they organise similar open letters to the Australian’s editorial board, urging that Murdoch provide space for, say, environmental activists alongside his regular quota of climate change denying columnists. After all, to borrow a phrase, those who want action on global warming ‘represent the majority of the population’ — but, oddly, they seem to have been deliberately excluded from the pages of the Australian!”

“The whole episode is sadly typical of how debates about Israel/Palestine are conducted. Mendes and co. urge the OL Society not to permit Overland to ‘highlight the views’ of anti-Zionists like Ned Curthoys, Antony Loewenstein and Michael Brull who, we are told, are irrelevant, marginal figures and as such not worth worrying about.

“Yet in their writings for the mass-circulation Australian, Dyrenfurth and Mendes attack these ‘irrelevant’ and ‘marginal’ views, over and over and over again. Indeed, they single out John Docker, Ned Curthoys, John Pilger and a variety of other named individuals for public abuse — and neither they nor the Australian offer these people any opportunity to reply.”

Significantly, the small, liberal Australian Jewish Democratic Society has supported the Overland response, the only Jewish organisation to do so. Predictably, the Australian Jewish News this week distorted the Overland response and the positions of the original Jewish writers for the magazine, including Michael Brull.

Crikey asked some of the six academics to comment but two ignored the request and one declined the offer.

Overland editor and Crikey contributor Jeff Sparrow told Crikey that he was unaware of any serious pressure being placed on the magazine’s funding bodies, namely the Australia Council or the journal’s patron, Barry Jones. He believed that a public response was warranted because the implied allegation of the original letter suggested that the magazine was anti-Semitic in publishing such views.

Sparrow revealed to Crikey that a further, short letter was sent by the academics late last week expressing disquiet with Overland’s response and demanding action on the journal’s alleged “ethnic stereotyping” of Jews and Israel, a charge Sparrow vehemently rejected.

The magazine is “explicitly political and not balanced on issues”, Sparrow told me. “Since 9/11, Middle East politics is now central to Australian life, accentuated after the Gaza war and we have a responsibility to take a position on Israel as Australia is so uncritical of that country’s policiWees. If there’s anything we should apologise for it’s that we should broaden the perspectives on the Middle East and include Palestinians, Muslims and Israeli Arabs.”

Sparrow believes that the failure of the same voices writing in the mainstream about Israel/Palestine warrants a search for fresher perspectives. “The same voices are clearly not bringing peace in the region,” he said.

It is telling that six privileged academics are complaining about “bias” at Overland at a time when heated discussion is raging in the US.

As illegal settlements continue to expand in the West Bank, the San Francisco Jewish Community Federation recently announced the following guidelines:

The JCF does not fund organizations that through their mission, activities or partnerships:

1. endorse or promote anti-Semitism, other forms of bigotry, violence or other extremist views;

2. actively seek to proselytize Jews away from Judaism; or

3. advocate for, or endorse, undermining the legitimacy of Israel as a secure independent, democratic Jewish state, including through participation in the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, in whole or in part.

Israel’s Foreign Ministry is considering blocking American and British lecture tours due to heckling by pro-Palestinian activists.

Just last week more than  4000 European Jews, including prominent individuals, called for an end to the “morally and politically wrong” colonies in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, while Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz calls rabbis who support UN Gaza conflict investigator Richard Goldstone “rabbis for Hamas”.

Antony Loewenstein is an independent journalist and author of My Israel Question and The Blogging Revolution.

one comment ↪
  • Howard Marosi

    Interesting that Phillip Mendes used to be in a leading position within the Australian Jewish Democratic Society, and is involved in social justice research and policy.