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.

Australian “green” company linked to Israel’s occupation in Palestine

My following article appears today on ABC Unleashed/The Drum:

My investigation has found a leading Australian electric car company is linked to an Israeli firm that operates in the illegally occupied Palestinian territories.

Better Place, advertised as “dedicated to zero emissions driving”, is part of a global venture capital firm based in California that has raised over $400 million to build charging stations for electric cars across the globe. Here is the company’s promo from 2009.

Better Place Australia – led by Evan Thornley, former Labor politician and co-founder of internet search engine Looksmart – is planning a national rollout of its services across Australia by late 2012.

Thornley told BusinessDaily in early 2010 that, “there’s hardly a government, car maker or capital market in the northern hemisphere who isn’t very deeply engaged in the opportunity with electric vehicles”.

But the green credentials of the company are threatened by revelations of the Israeli figures behind the organisation and its behaviour in occupied Palestinian territory.

Better Place Israel (BPI) is led by former general Moshe Kaplinsky, deputy chief of staff of Israel’s army during the 2006 Lebanon invasion and commander of the IDF in the West Bank during the second Intifada. Both military adventures led to serious allegations of human rights abuses including the dropping of cluster bombs on civilian areas across southern Lebanon.

Israel has never been held to account over the allegations.

The Electronic Intifada (EI) website first alerted readers in early May to the issues now circling around BPI and discovered the presence of charging stations along Israel’s controversial Route 443, some of which illegally deviates directly into Palestinian territory in the West Bank.

Today, even with an Israeli High Court ruling that demands equal access to the road for both Palestinians and Israelis, the road remains partly inaccessible to indigenous Palestinians in the area.

An EI reporter was told by BPI that the company was willing to install charging stations “anywhere…you want to live”, including the West Bank.

Some of Better Place’s supporters have an Australian connection.

I contacted Macquarie Capital, which has reportedly pledged to fund the construction of plug-in stations, and asked if they knew about BPI’s behaviour in the Middle East. A spokeswoman refused to discuss the role of Better Place Australia or answer any questions about its Israeli connection but said Macquarie is only a financial advisor to the company and has no relationship with the Israeli arm.

“We only have a local management relationship and cannot discuss negotiations or advice given to Better Place”, she said.

Local Better Place management is directly connected to BPI.

A key backer is Wolfensohn and Co, the investment firm run by former World Bank President, Middle East Quartet envoy and Australian-born, Jewish, American citizen James Wolfensohn.

The firm didn’t respond to my request for comment.

When I contacted Better Place Australia with a list of questions related to the company’s actions in the occupied territories I was referred to headquarters in Palo Alto and the Vice President of Communications, Joe Paluska. He avoided answering any questions about BPI’s attempts to integrate Israel’s miliary and political establishment towards a greenwashing agenda and told me that, “Better Place is a privately-held global company…with operations around the world including in Israel, Denmark, Australia, US, Canada, Japan, China, France, Germany and The Netherlands.”

When pushed on particular details about BPI’s presence in the West Bank, Paluska responded: “Each operating unit is broadly responsible for local deployment and local relations and reports to our global team here in Palo Alto.”

Paluska refused to answer the following questions:

– Does Better Place Australia do any work in the occupied territories and what is the company’s views about it?

– There are serious charges allegations against BPI’s chief executive Moshe Kaplinsky’s role in Israel’s Lebanon invasion in 2006 and invasion of the West Bank during the second Intifada….What is the company’s response and is it appropriate for a man such as Kaplinsky to be heading a group that aims to promote a greener future for the world?

– Evidence exists that finds Better Place charging stations in settlements on the West Bank and along Highway 443, a road that includes roughly 30 km that runs through the West Bank. What is the company’s response to these allegations?

– Does Better Place in Australia have a relationship with the Rudd government and are they aware of the allegations against the company’s activities in the West Bank?

– After the recent Rudd government decision to expel a Mossad agent from Australia, how does Better Place see Australia’s relationship with Israel?

Better Place Australia is not directly involved in the company’s Israeli operations but the firm is just the latest attempt to “normalise” Israeli behaviour. Wired magazine published a feature in 2008 about the organisation that notably avoided any serious examination of the company’s connection to the Israeli military establishment – President Shimon Peres is a big fan of BPI’s attempt to move away from the Western reliance on oil and repressive Arab states – and simply praised founder Shai Agassi and his “vision” for the future.

In May a number of leading scholars, including Noam Chomsky, protested the Boston Museum of Science co-sponsoring and hosting “Israeli Innovation Weekend” (IIW) which featured the Better Place initiative.

The statement read: “IIW is far from an innocent educational endeavour. It is part of a propaganda campaign by the State of Israel to present itself as a beacon of progress in a desert of backwardness and deflect attention from its atrocious human rights record and fundamentally discriminatory policies”.

Leading Israeli journalist and blogger Noam Sheizaf told me that BPI is very high profile in Israel, has been adopted by many politicians and is “always promoted as an example of Israel’s contribution to the world”.

Sheizaf said that the BPI project in the West Bank may not be “criminal…but what it teaches us is that large portions of Israel’s economy – more than we can imagine, and even more than the Palestinian boycott or other publicised acts show – is tied to the occupation and to colonisation.

“There is something hopelessly naive – if not pure false – about an attempt to separate ‘good’ Israel from ‘occupying’ Israel. Not every Israeli is as bad as the extreme settlers of Hebron, but the occupation is the Israeli national project, so before we celebrate inventions such as this green car, we should also think who benefits from it, and on whose expense.”

4 comments ↪
  • Very useful and gutsy article! Well done.

  • Rick

    Thanks for this very informative article, These guys are doing massively well, and enjoying vast PR on the backs of real Eco companies, attracting vast investment that should really go to 'better' companies. They sneakily set themselves up as a californian startup, which is a con, and even here in Japan they are gaining tremendous momentum. We need to get this kind of information out to the public much more.

    well done and keep up the good work

    Rick

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  • Ohad

    I have something to comment on almost everything said here, but I will limit it to the following.

    Something is really wrong if you guys turn everything and anything against Israel. There is so much Innovation coming from Israel that it's funny that people even bother going to these subjects to undermining the enormous contribution that Israel has contributed to the world green technology and Hi Tech.

    The second issue I had with this article is the so called "illegal occupation". There is a peace agreement between Jordan and Israel, the west bank was Jordanian territory. I hope I don't have to elaborate.

    What happened in Lebanon in 2006 was not an invasion. It was war that started with the kidnaping of two Israeli soldiers and bombing of the entire northern Israeli border. After that a war broke where Israel (in very small increments) started moving in to find the kidnaped soldiers and mainly to stop the violent rocket attacks coming from the southern part of Lebanon on Israeli cities.

    Finally this article is not about a green sneaky company as you put it. It's about you not liking Israel and trying to demonize every connection possible to it.

    My only hope is that one day peace will come between Israel and ALL it's neighbors and you would see that evil doesn't dwell in the heart and minds of every Israeli. We can live in peace if only we give peace a chance. it all starts with how you educate yourself and the next generation.

     

    Allah hu akbar (same god by the way)

    enjoy your day