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.

Leading IDF lawyer explains how Israel justifies its action

My following article appears in today’s Crikey:

On Tuesday lunchtime the Australian Human Rights Centre and the UNSW International Law and Policy Group (with assistance from the Israeli embassy) hosted a seminar on “The Fight against Terror: Practical Dilemmas in applying the Laws of War.” The two speakers were Professor Abraham Bell of Israel’s Bar-Ilan University and Colonel Sharon Afek, Deputy Military Advocate General for the Israel Defence Forces.

In light of the recent Gaza flotilla disaster, the Goldstone report and ongoing global attempts to hold Israeli officials to account for alleged war crimes, the event was timely and occurred without an interruption or boycott call.

Five police stood guard outside the small lecture theatre, anticipating any possible trouble or public protest, an option I heard by pro-Palestinian activists was briefly discussed when the event was announced but eventually dismissed.

Bell, who has spoken extensively on the legality of Israel’s so-called security barrier that runs directly into Palestinian land in the West Bank, outlined his personal views that corresponded with the official, Israeli government position.

He condemned the limitations of international criminal law and wished that “armed terrorist groups be neutralised before they attacked Israel”. He lamented that international humanitarian law was not being enforced against non-state actors (despite the UN-backed Goldstone report directly condemning alleged breaches of humanitarian law by both Israel and Hamas, something Human Rights Watch says neither side has properly addressed).

During a recent talk in the US, Bell claimed that the Gaza Strip was no longer under Israeli occupation and had no obligation to provide humanitarian assistance to its people.

But Israel still maintains a control over the land, sea and air borders around Gaza and this week announced it would once again allow building materials like cement and steel and more food items into Gaza (including the now-infamous ketchup and mayonnaise items), objects that have been officially banned for years.

Bell said during his UNSW talk that after the flotilla incident, “Israel has essentially given up economic sanctions against Hamas in Gaza”, contradicting the official Israel position that the blockade was designed to provide security for Israel and stop Hamas rocket fire.

Bell used visual aides like photos of Muslim suicide bombers in Israel, fact sheets provided by UN Watch and the Anti-Defamation League and recounted the story of losing friends in terror attacks inside Israel. It wasn’t a dispassionate legal talk but a call to understand Israel’s isolation in the international community because of the abundance of Islamic nations in the UN.

The most revealing talk, however, was by Colonel Afek, a former legal adviser for the West Bank. A softly-spoken man, he played numerous IDF videos shot by pilotless drones over southern Lebanon and Gaza and asked the audience to understand the moral and legal dilemma over whether Israel should attack homes where militants were allegedly hiding or warehousing weapons. “We are forced to make split-second decisions”, he said.

Afek said that many commanders in the field resented having to receive legal advice before launching attacks on “terrorists”. He explained how the IDF made thousands of phone calls to residents in Gaza before launching attacks on their homes in late 2008/early 2009.

The IDF lawyer acknowledged that many in the world today see Israeli officers as war criminals and threaten to arrest and prosecute them in foreign courts. “The problem isn’t with international law”, he told a questioner who asked his opinion on the Israeli government wanting to amend humanitarian law to better support Israeli war aims. “The problem is with fighting terrorism.”

Both Bell and Afek articulated the frustration that the world didn’t understand Israeli actions. Afek said that he had shown one of the IDF videos to a US commander who couldn’t see any issues with dropping munitions on civilian areas that contain “terrorists”. It was a revealing statement. One of the reasons Washington and a number of other Western states have been equally against the Goldstone report was that its recommendations could be turned against Western actions in Iraq, Afghanistan or elsewhere.

I asked why neither man had explained the context for Palestinian “terrorism”, the fact that the occupation of the West Bank was illegal and the Palestinian legal right to resist it within legal means. Afek acknowledged that he had not discussed the wider issues in Palestine but “these are political questions, not legal ones”.

One questioner wondered why Israel had “hijacked language” by claiming Palestinians defending their land were terrorists while Israel always acted in “self-defence”, no matter the Palestinian death toll.

Bell responded that Palestinians “have no right to commit terrorism to defend their own land” (though he claimed the rights to the land were contested) and showed pictures of buses and cafes destroyed by Palestinian suicide bombers.

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

one comment ↪
  • ej

    Odious, nauseating. Everything is poisoned by the Israeli embrace.

    Thank you, the Australian Human Rights Centre (sic); thank you the University of New South Wales.

    Does anything of a genuine intellectual nature happen at Bar-Ilan University?