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.

A country can’t simply violently board a ship on the high seas

University of Sydney law professor Ben Saul – a man with a history of challenging human rights abuses – writes about Israel’s flagrant abuse of human rights this week:

Israel’s response to the Gaza flotilla is another unfortunate example of Israel clothing its conduct in the language of international law while flouting it in practice. If you believe Israeli government spokesmen, Israel is metabolically incapable of violating international law, placing it alongside Saddam Hussein’s Information Minister in self-awareness.

Israel claims that paragraph 67(a) of the San Remo Manual on Armed Conflicts at Sea justified the Israeli operation against the flotilla. (The San Remo Manual is an authoritative statement of international law applicable to armed conflicts at sea.)

Paragraph 67(a) only permits attacks on the merchant vessels of neutral countries where they “are believed on reasonable grounds to be carrying contraband or breaching a blockade, and after prior warning they intentionally and clearly refuse to stop, or intentionally and clearly resist visit, search or capture”.

Israel argues that it gave due warnings, which were not heeded.

What Israel conveniently omits to mention is that the San Remo Manual also contains rules governing the lawfulness of the blockade itself, and there can be no authority under international law to enforce a blockade which is unlawful. Paragraph 102 of the Manual prohibits a blockade if “the damage to the civilian population is, or may be expected to be, excessive in relation to the concrete and direct military advantage anticipated from the blockade”.

The background to that ‘proportionality’ rule is the experience of past world wars where naval blockades had devastating effects on civilian populations.

There is little question that Israel’s blockade of Gaza is disproportionate in legal terms. The proportionality rule requires an assessment of the military advantage against the harmful effects on civilians. Israel claims that the blockade is necessary to prevent Hamas from mounting indiscriminate rocket attacks on Israeli civilians.

Such attacks were well documented by the UN’s Goldstone Report and are a serious security threat to Israel. Israel has every right to protect its civilians from indiscriminate terrorist attacks by Hamas.

The proportionality principle requires, however, that Israel’s security cannot come at any price. A balancing of interests is necessary to ensure that civilians should not pay too dearly for the security needs of others.

Safeguarding the precious lives of innocents and respecting their dignity as fellow humans is the necessary burden that international law imposes on war. That is why Israel reveals its contempt for international law when, for example in the past, its leaders have pledged to “destroy 100 homes for every rocket fired”.

The harmful effects of the blockade on Gazan civilians have included the denial of the basics of life, such as food, fuel and medicine, as well widespread economic collapse.

The UN agency on the ground, the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), has described a “severe humanitarian crisis” in Gaza in relation to human development, health, education, “the psychological stress” on the population, high unemployment (at 45 per cent) and poverty (with 300,000 people living beneath the poverty line), and the collapse of commerce, industry and agriculture.

Such effects are manifestly excessive in relation to Israel’s security objectives and cannot possibly satisfy the conditions of a lawful blockade. Disrupting wildly inaccurate rockets from being fired at relatively underpopulated areas of southern Israel cannot possibly justify the acute disruption of the daily lives and livelihoods of more than one million Gazans. Nor is it lawful to seek to pressure Hamas by instrumentally impoverishing its civilian supporters.

It seems that Israel is the only entity incapable of recognising the effects of its blockade. The United States, European Union and numerous independent sources have deeply criticised the disproportionate harm to Gazan civilians.

The UN Secretary General has condemned the “unacceptable suffering” caused by the blockade. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has criticised it for violating the law of armed conflict. The UN Human Rights Council, UN Humanitarian Affairs Coordinator, Oxfam and Amnesty International have all strongly condemned it.

The UN’s Goldstone Report found that blockade may even amount to international crimes: “Israeli acts that deprive Palestinians in the Gaza Strip of their means of subsistence, employment, housing and water, that deny their freedom of movement and their right to leave and enter their own country… could lead a competent court to find that the crime of persecution, a crime against humanity, has been committed.”

Israel has further argued that it offered the Gaza flotilla an opportunity to deliver aid through the proper Israeli channels.

It is very difficult to regard that offer as sincere given Israel’s track record. Israel’s practices concerning the transit of goods through Israeli entry points has been arbitrary at best and deliberately obstructive at worst.

The UN notes that everything from crayons to soccer balls to musical instruments has been denied entry into Gaza – hardly rocket components. Goods sit idle for months or are never delivered at all. In such circumstances, no-one could have any confidence that the goods would ever reach Gaza.

As yet, it is still unknown exactly what happened on board the flotilla vessels boarded by Israeli forces. Even at this early stage, however, some international law matters are fairly clear.

First, absent any intention by the flotilla to attack Israel, or any suspicion of piracy, it was unlawful for Israel to forcibly board foreign merchant vessels in international waters.

Secondly, such action amounted to an unlawful interference in the enforcement jurisdiction of the “flag-States” (countries of registration) of those vessels, such as Turkey.

Thirdly, it violated the fundamental principle of freedom of navigation on the high seas, codified in the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea of 1982.

Fourthly, under international human rights law, the apprehension and detention of those on board the vessels likely amounts to arbitrary, unlawful detention, contrary to article 9 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, since there is lawful basis for detention.

Fifthly, if Israeli forces killed people, they may not only have infringed the human right to life, but they may also have committed serious international crimes. Under article 3 of the Rome Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts against the Safety of Maritime Navigation of 1988, it is an international crime for any person to seize or exercise control over a ship by force, and also a crime to injure or kill any person in the process.

Ironically, that treaty was adopted after Palestinian terrorists hijacked the Italian cruise ship, the Achille Lauro, in 1985, in which a Jewish American was killed.

In such cases, any claim of self-defence by Israeli forces is irrelevant. The treaty necessarily adopts a strict approach. One cannot attack a ship and then claim self-defence if the people on board resist the unlawful use of violence.

Legally speaking, government military forces rappelling onto a ship to illegally capture it are treated no differently than other criminals. The right of self-defence in such situations rests with the passengers on board: a person is legally entitled to resist one’s own unlawful capture, abduction and detention.

Whether doing so is wise, in the face of heavily armed commandos, is a different question. Whether running the gauntlet of an Israeli military blockade is sensible or foolhardy is another.

This latest sad and shocking episode is a reminder of Israel’s recklessness towards the lives of others, its utter disregard for international opinion, and its incivility as an outlaw of the international community.

Israel has become its own worst enemy. It prioritises its own interests with a callous lack of empathy for others. It is simply unable to imagine the suffering it inflicts upon others, and treats harm to Israelis as the only game in town. Its absolutism of mind and politics has crushing consequences for Palestinians.

Far from ensuring its own security, Israel is unravelling it: no-one should be surprised if Israel has just succeeded in recruiting the next generation of martyrs keen to attack it.

Absolutism, violence, and the evaporation of peace in the region will continue as long as the international community continues to handle Israel with kid gloves.

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