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.

Taking the measure of the heat in Gaza

My following book review appeared in Saturday’s Melbourne Age:

Gaza: Morality, Law and Politics
Edited by Raimond Gaita
University of Western Australia Publishing, $29.95

Raimond Gaita’s collection tries to analyse a contentious conflict, writes Antony Loewenstein.

MONTHS after the release of the UN-backed Goldstone report that found alleged war crimes by both Israel and Hamas during their conflict in late 2008 and early 2009, Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz lashed out at backers of the comprehensive study. He called rabbis who issued a statement that supported Goldstone’s recommendations “rabbis for Hamas”.

It is this heated atmosphere of debate that Raimond Gaita’s edited collection attempts to analyse and defuse. It is an ambitious task, not helped by Zionist and Arab ideologues. Gaita organised a 2009 series of talks by Australian public intellectuals on the Gaza conflict and related issues. Full houses were the norm for the entire season.

The absence of Israeli and Palestinian voices is perhaps understandable — it is a battle that resonates deeply in the Diaspora — but the accounts would have benefited from at least one eyewitness who could detail the chaos and anger on the battlefield. Academic distance has its limitations.

In his introduction, Gaita skilfully weaves the moral, legal and political questions over the contentious conflict. He doesn’t hold back, arguing “it is certain that Israeli soldiers committed war crimes and possibly crimes against humanity”.

He damns Israeli leaders such as former prime minister Ehud Olmert who talk about human rights, but then order “millions of cluster bomblets to be dropped on Lebanese villages”. Gaita is no less forgiving of Hamas, claiming their ambition is to “destroy Israel”.

The noted philosopher deserves credit for trying to engage questions around the legitimacy of the Jewish state and whether a democracy can be both Jewish and equal to all its citizens. However, he writes that “the reason Israeli Arabs are now second-class citizens in Israel is purely because they are victims of racist hostility”, but then denies that Israel is an “apartheid state”. In fact, like in apartheid South Africa, there are legal definitions for such terms and many legal scholars today argue that Israel, especially in its treatment of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza, is guilty of racial discrimination.

The anthology’s contributors are connected to these themes, often wrestling with myriad competing issues. Gerry Simpson, who holds a chair of law at the University of Melbourne, concludes his essay by arguing that “killing in contemporary conflict [has] condemned both sides to war-making that is often illegal and yet also appears to each side as politically and morally necessary”. It is an undoubtedly true statement, leaving observers reliant on human rights reports and robust journalism.

None of the writers feels particularly comfortable with the conduct of either side, though the Goldstone report notes that Hamas did very little fighting, simply unable to match the Israel Defence Force’s firepower.

University of New South Wales political theorist Geoffrey Brahm Levey examines the concept of “just war” and finds countless statements by Israeli leaders that explicitly demand “disproportionate” force be used against an enemy. He ends with a wish for “genuine mutual recognition” and demands that we examine the “impact and consequence of . . . settlement upon others”. The Palestinians are under occupation, Brahm Levey writes.

Mark Baker, the director of the Australian Centre for Jewish Civilisation at Monash University, appears conflicted in his chapter, discussing the effect both the Holocaust and Nakba have had on Jews and Arabs since 1948. These are valid debates but what is missing is an articulation of any moral responsibility of Diaspora Jewry for either blindly backing most Israeli actions or remaining silent when feeling uncomfortable over Israeli behaviour.

Despite the evidence, Baker appears unwilling to acknowledge that the civilian death toll in Gaza was “deliberate” and in so doing relies on simplistic statements such as “the anti-Zionist left shares a common agenda with al-Qaeda”.

The most refreshing chapter is by Ghassan Hage, future generation professor of anthropology and social theory at the University of Melbourne. He labels as “bloody obvious” the fact that crimes were committed during the conflict but delves deeper into the inherent issue with nationalism itself. “The impossibility of a Zionist nation-state as a normal state” is Hage’s recurring theme.
Legal expert Hilary Charlesworth and international relations academic Anthony Billingsley complete Gaita’s circle. Charlesworth highlights women in war and how disadvantaged they are in war zones. A measured collection in heated times.

Raimond Gaita is a guest at the Melbourne Writers Festival. Antony Loewenstein is author of My Israel Question and The Blogging Revolution.

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