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.

What the Pixies think may be catching

A piece in today’s Murdoch Australian highlights the almost unstoppable movement towards isolating Israel until it recognises the error of its occupying ways. Not much evidence that many Israelis do believe that, but give them time:

The piece is by Michael Shaik:

“MICHAEL, she’s dead.”

It was March 16, 2003. The huge anti-war protests of the month before had failed to deflect the Coalition of the Willing from its imminent invasion of Iraq.

In Palestine, Israel was busily breaking the back of the second intifada, as the pitifully armed resistance retaliated with suicide bombings.

In a desperate bid to resurrect the popular non-violent movement that had been smashed in the first weeks of the intifada, Palestinian leaders had requested the assistance of internationals whose presence, it was believed, would limit the amount of force Israel could use against protesters.

While the US university student Rachel Corrie worked to obstruct Israel’s demolition of 1200 houses along Gaza’s border with Egypt, I was working as the media co-ordinator for the International Solidarity Movement in the West Bank village of Beit Sahour.

Rachel had phoned me to report that one of her colleagues had been picked up in a bulldozer blade and thrown into some barbed wire. Then another activist had phoned to tell me that she had been run over. Then that she was in an ambulance and that her skin was turning blue. Then that she was dead.

Beit Sahour is in a valley where the archangel is believed to have announced Christ’s birth to the shepherds.

In 1997, the people of the village had camped in the forest of Abu Ghaneim overlooking the site of the miracle to prevent its seizure by Israel. Today, the settlement of Har Homa towers over Beit Sahour like a monument to the futility of non-violent resistance.

In 2006, I joined a group of peace activists who had been deported from Palestine to discuss ways in which we could help from the outside. At the beginning of the year, the Israeli government had announced that it would “put the Palestinians on a diet” to punish them for voting for Hamas in parliamentary elections and it was quickly decided that our best course was to try to “break the siege of Gaza” by bringing in supplies by sea.

In August 2008, we had our first success when two wooden fishing boats breached the blockade carrying a cargo of hearing aids for children whose eardrums had been damaged by the sonic booms caused by Israeli jets.

Gradually, our successes accumulated, drawing more people into the movement. Yet the turning point came during last year’s assault on Gaza when Israel systematically destroyed its factories, sewerage infrastructure, residential buildings, farmland and tens of thousands of farm animals. According to Amnesty International, the effect of the assault and blockade has been to “push the crisis to catastrophic levels”.

This year, UN Gaza chief John Ging called upon the international community “to shoulder its responsibility on this issue” by “sending ships to break the siege”.

Despite the mission’s failure, outrage over Israel’s attack on an aid convoy in international waters has forced its apologists to work overtime to explain how a blockade that bars tinned meat, cement, shoes and schoolbooks from entering Gaza, that has reduced 61 per cent of Gaza’s households to “food insecurity” and that has caused widespread stunting among its children, is vital to Israel’s security.

This represents a significant embarrassment for Israel, but for people living in refugee camps, non-violence is a means, not an end in itself.

On Saturday, Federal Labor MP Michael Danby announced that he and the leaders of Australia’s Israel lobby had met Kevin Rudd and Foreign Minister Stephen Smith at The Lodge and gained assurances that the government would not be calling for an end to the blockade nor a UN inquiry but would only support an “independent” Israeli inquiry into its attack on the ships.

Yet while Danby and his associates congratulate themselves on their power to shape Australian foreign policy, there may still be grounds for optimism.

With the possible exception of the invasion of Iraq, the West’s acquiescence to the siege of Gaza represents its greatest moral and political blunder of the modern era.

It pauperises Gaza’s population and strengthens Hamas (which taxes goods smuggled through tunnels from Egypt) while forcing Gaza into Iran’s embrace and providing a priceless example of Western duplicity for jihadi propagandists.

Like Guernica in the 1930s, Gaza has captured the world’s imagination as something larger than itself: a grotesque laboratory for experiments in human suffering and a symbol of the international community’s failure to live up to its professed ideals.

Amid the tragedy and media war of the past week, it is easy to overlook the historic significance of what has been achieved.

Seven years after a girl in a red jacket was crushed to death by an Israeli bulldozer, her memory is being carried forward by a Nobel peace laureate and former UN assistant secretary-general aboard a cargo vessel bearing her name.

Last weekend the Pixies joined Gil Scott-Heron, Carlos Santana and Elvis Costello in cancelling performances in Israel, recalling the cultural boycott of apartheid South Africa.

While none of these events will free Palestine, they certainly represent the coming of age of a global movement that challenges both Israel and an international community whose business-as-usual diplomacy has served to normalise one of the great crimes of the 21st century.

Michael Shaik was a founder of the Free Gaza Movement

one comment ↪
  • Aaron

    Marvellous to see an Israel/Palestine article at the The Australian not written by Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Yes, Greg Sheridan – hasbarabot extraordinaire: I'm talking about you.

    Thanks Michael, and especially interesting to hear about the early years of ISM. I recall reading an article, written towards the end of 2003, lamenting the fact that Rachel Corrie had been largely forgotten. And here we are, seven years later and her name is known throughout the world. The ugly circumstances of her death are known and more broadly, ever increasingly, so is the evil treatment of Palestinians.