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.

New York Times readers start to see the darkness in Gaza

New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof has been travelling around Palestine (here’s his recent strong piece from the West Bank).

Now it’s Gaza. Although his words are couched in too many cautious tones, his blog offers the reality of what he really saw:

My Sunday column is from Gaza, where I argue that Israel should not just ease the trade restrictions but lift them. The problem with closing off Gaza, quite aside from the injustice of collective punishment, is that it tends to foster just the extremism that most threatens Israel and the entire Middle East. The constituencies for moderation and peace — civil society and the business sector — have been nearly destroyed and silenced, while Hamas appears to have been strengthened.

A couple of further thoughts. It’s very hard to gauge how popular Hamas is, but my vague sense is that Hamas may have lost popularity since the election in 2006 and since my last visit (2008). This doesn’t seem to have anything to do with Israeli policies, but rather with weariness with Hamas’s Islamism, nuttiness and intolerance. Antics like Hamas’s attacks on summer camps for kids are emblematic of how the group antagonizes ordinary people. People are just tired of Hamas, and if Israel would stay out of the picture there’s some hope Hamas could eventually be displaced. Israel’s efforts to punish Gazans for Hamas may have the perverse effect of making Hamas more popular than it would otherwise be, and of keeping Gilad Shalit a prisoner longer than he would otherwise be. But that’s conjectural: it’s very difficult to understand public opinion in Gaza.

I’m sure some readers will dispute my suggestion that life in Gaza is better than it was a couple of years ago, and that there isn’t a humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza. But there seems to me to be no doubt about that. The most striking difference from my last visit is that then there was very little gasoline available in Gaza, so cars were running on vegetable oil — and the smell was terrible. There were also huge numbers of horse carts. Now gasoline is readily available by tunnel from Egypt (I’m told it’s cheaper in Gaza than in either Israel or the West Bank), and cars are humming along nicely. Gaza still has huge numbers of jobless people and it is poor, but it is materially better off than Arab countries like Sudan or Mauritania. Indeed, it’s probably  better off than Egypt.

Traveling into Gaza remains a kick, although it’s slightly more normal than it used to be. Leaving from Israel, you pass through a series of empty corridors, with steel doors opening magically before you (they’re remote-controlled by Israeli guards far behind you). There’s nobody around, because very few people are allowed to use the crossing. Finally you walk out and follow a path for about 3/4 of a mile through a no-man’s-land into Gaza (it’s fenced off now, which is better than it used to be), and finally you reach a drink stand and a few taxi drivers. A bit beyond that is a new Hamas checkpoint. Returning is even stranger: After leaving the last Gaza checkpoint, you reach steel doors that are magically opened for you by Israelis, who then instruct you through speakers to go through a series of gates and put all your possessions on trays to be inspected. Then you pass through X-ray machines, and gates in front of you are automatically opened until you finally reach some people.

One of the tragedies of the Middle East is that Hamas was actually nurtured in its early years by Israel. The thinking was that Israel’s real threat came from secular Palestinian nationalists, and a religious group would distract Palestinians by keeping them praying in mosques. For those who want to learn more about Hamas and its history, I strongly recommend a new book by Beverly Milton-Edwards and my Times colleague Stephen Farrell, “Hamas.”

one comment ↪
  • iResistDe4iAm

    "One of the tragedies of the Middle East is that Hamas was actually nurtured in its early years by Israel. The thinking was that Israel’s real threat came from secular Palestinian nationalists, and a religious group would distract Palestinians by keeping them praying in mosques

     

    More like Divide and Conquer.