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.

BDS hits inner Sydney and Greens are leading the charge

A very good piece by Fiona Byrne, the Greens candidate for the electorate of Marrickville in inner Sydney and the current Mayor of Marrickville Council, on ABC’s Unleashed on why BDS is so important and has the support of her constituents. People don’t want to support Israeli apartheid anymore:

On December 14 last year, Marrickville Council in Sydney’s Inner West resolved to support the global movement of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS). The resolution was supported by the four Labor, five Greens and one of the three independent Councillors.

The BDS movement involves a boycott of goods produced in Israel and of cultural and sporting exchanges with Israeli institutions, withdrawal of funds from institutions and companies that invest in or do significant business with Israel, and the implementation of government actions (sanctions) that indicate disapproval of Israeli policies in the illegally occupied Palestinian territories.

It is certainly not an issue that generates apathy. Since the resolution we have received considerable support, not only from residents but from further afield. There has also been some opposition.

Besides letters of support from members of Jews Against the Occupation, just today I received a phone message from someone in Tasmania who kindly took the time to let me know how much he supported Marrickville Council’s decision. We have also recently received a statement of support from Michael Pearson, Emetrius Professor of History at the University of New South Wales.

The resolution has attracted a variety of media attention. This week the state Member for Marrickville, Deputy Premier Carmel Tebbutt, commented on radio regarding Marrickville Council’s capacity to instigate such a boycott. She asserted that Council should more appropriately focus on local issues. She was joined in her opposition today by Federal MP Anthony Albanese.

These comments, while perhaps holding the party line, are contradictory to the resolve of the local Labor Councillors, are out of step with the community view that Marrickville should speak out against injustice no matter where it occurs, and demonstrate a lack of understanding of how BDS is both relevant and applicable at a local government level.

Marrickville Councillors interact with the people we represent on a day to day level. We have spoken with many local residents, with community and multi-faith groups who have told us of their feelings towards the unresolved issue of Palestine and Israel and their desire to be able to take direct action.

Some Councillors from Marrickville have also had the opportunity to visit Palestine, and our sister city of Bethlehem, experiencing firsthand the day to day restrictions of the Palestinian people within their own country.

This decision to institute the BDS in Marrickville is well within Council’s jurisdiction. Every day as an organisation we make decisions about who we will or will not do business with as we spend ratepayers’ money to provide community services.

Just as our Council will not invest with companies who manufacture weapons, or who do business with the government of Burma, we will now look at who we do business with and whether they support the occupation of Palestine. I can envisage similar resolutions in the future addressing issues such as the use of child labour in cocoa farms in the Ivory Coast.

Council has not expressed an opinion about the future of Israel and whether Palestine should be a separate state. Rather, Council’s concern is Israel’s violation of the human rights of the Palestinian people, especially its blockade of Gaza and its establishment of illegal settlements on the West Bank, which are ongoing sources of conflict.

A handful of people have assumed that Marrickville Council’s support of BDS implies that we support a one-state solution to the conflict. This is not at all the case. The BDS is not an anti-Israel resolution. It is about identifying institutions that directly support the occupation of Palestine, and choosing not to do business with them.

BDS is not a fringe movement. Its impact is growing as the Israeli government continues to contravene international law. Growing numbers of prominent Australian unions back the BDS, such as the ETU, the AMWU and the CFMEU, as do most Palestinian Civil Societies, and a growing number of Jews and churches around the world.

Last week at least 165 Israeli professors signed a petition declaring a boycott on activities at the Ariel University Centre in the occupied West Bank declaring Ariel an “illegal settlement” which has the intention of preventing the Palestinian people from establishing an independent state.

At a hands-on level, Marrickville Council’s support of the BDS means taking a close look at and making ethical and informed choices about which businesses and institutions we engage with. The boycott of products and services has an immediate local impact, given that Council is a regular purchaser of goods and services on behalf of the community.

This month the European Union heavily criticized Israel in a statement to its Consuls General in Jerusalem. They cited “restrictive zoning and planning, ongoing demolitions and evictions, an inequitable education policy, difficult access to healthcare, (and) the inadequate provision of resources and investment.”

Many Australians remember how international boycotts and sanctions of South African goods in the 1980s helped to bring an end to apartheid. It is no accident that Archbishop Desmond Tutu is today one of the most outspoken critics of Israeli policies in Palestine and one of the principal advocates of the BDS movement.

In Marrickville we are fortunate to live free from fear of human rights violations, free from fear of dispossession of our land for new foreign settlements, and with access to basic goods and services to ensure safe and healthy living. We believe the people of Bethlehem, and of Palestine as a whole, are entitled to these freedoms too.

Marrickville Council supporting the BDS is a practical measure for our local area to communicate this to any institution which supports the occupation of Palestine.

2 comments ↪
  • Daniel

    Dear Anthony,

    In Australia, like Israel,  we are also a nation of migrants and no doubt you will have heard the argument that this country was inhabited prior to our migration and that many of the original inhabitants still regard us as an occupying force. Being only a second generation migrant hasn't stopped me feeling at home here, or having a "sense of place". We occasionally migrate internally to places hundreds of kilometers away and usually come to feel at home within a very short period.

    What connects us to a place and gives us a sense of home isn't geography, but people, society, and the values that we share. I currently live in Marrickville and feel at home here, but have also in Brunswick, Brixton, Brooklyn, and downtown Tel Aviv. I value a culturally diverse neighbourhood, not because I belong to a particular sub-culture (I'm a straight, white, atheist), but because such places tend to breed (perhaps out of necessity) or attract tolerant people, and offer interesting cross-cultural interactions. What is also necessary is a legal foundation that upholds the rights of minorities, and a regime with the will to do so. Such regimes only form when they are accountable to the population through the universal exercise of democracy, and never when they are composed of religious fundamentalists.

    I believe that the religious elements in the Middle East, both Jewish and Muslim, are the enemies of peace, but I also believe the best hope for a peaceful region is the secular state of Israel. While most international attention towards Israel focuses on the religious fringe and the conflict that it provokes, we need to remember that at its core Israel is a modern democratic state which upholds equal rights for women, religious and ethnic minorities, accepts same sex relationships, and has produced some vibrant multicultural communities as a result. These areas are unique to Israel in the Middle East, as are their legal and institutional underpinnings.

    The question for social progressives ought to be how to extend this liberal "multi-culture" to Palestinian regions and neighbouring states (yes and also some more insular Jewish communities), not how to dismantle the only one that exists. The process may begin by restoring leadership to the secular elements of society, something made more difficult while conflict persists. And how to promote values, that must be shared if true understanding and integration are to happen, rather than a segregated, "walled" existence.

    Certainly criticism of Israel is at times warranted, but does it serve a constructive purpose or will it only isolate more moderate elements? And where are the similar efforts to promote the equality of women, to stop the persecution of gays, lesbians, ethnic and religious minorities, that are endemic in the Arab states in the region? This is not an even-handed, or constructive approach and its effect will likely be counter-productive to its intent. Further I believe the moral contradictions and hypocrisy embedded in this policy will divide the Greens and undermine their efforts to achieve mainstream acceptance. Its not something that I wish for as I support many of their policies and, more often than not they have had my vote. Not this time.

     

  • Hi Daniel,

    Thank you for your honest and sincere perspective.  It is good that the Greens in the past have connected with many of your values.  I realise that the NSW Green's stand on a general boycott may be troubling for you.  But you must understand that this decision has taken a long time before it has become policy.  National boycott's are only a matter of last recourse.  Israel has occupied Palestine for 43 years.  No amount of UN General Assembly or Security Council resolutions has made a difference.  The Oslo Peace Accords a promise for two states, Israel and Palestine, was made nearly 20 years ago.  In that time Israeli settlers to the West Bank and East Jerusalem have nearly tripled and Gaza has been under siege for nearly ten years.  This is unjust, unsustainable and undemocratic.

    I commend the Greens and all those who advocate for firmer action towards Israel.  Israel is spiralling out of control.  Jonathan Pollack an Israeli peace activist two weeks ago was jailed for 3 months for taking part in a peace bike ride during the 2008 Gaza war.  Abdallah Abu Rahmah a prolific nonviolent leader within the Palestinian community will have served 16 months in jail (unless a further appeal is allowed) for his active lead in organising protests against the occupation.

    Daniel I support your call for the affirmation of liberal democratic values within Israel and the Arab world.  But sadly, those values are undermined by the 43 year occupation of a people.  Daniel, if our leaders will not act and if not boycott how do you see the best way to get Israel out of Palestine?  After 4 decades there are little options; not forgetting those Palestinians who have been living for 62 years as refugees.