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.

Israeli racism and inequality in its DNA

My following article appears in Lebanon’s Al Akhbar:

“Moshe was simply not willing for the State of Israel to run him over anymore.”

Moshe Silman, a son of Holocaust survivors, was an Israeli man who died last week after suffering second and third-degree burns on 94 percent of his body. In an Israeli first, a week earlier he had set himself on fire during a large protest in the heart of Tel Aviv. He was desperate, poor and felt ignored by the neo-liberal, Israeli state.

But don’t tell the New York Times that editorialized recently how Israel is a “democratic state committed to liberal values and human rights”.

The reality for an increasing number of Jews is the exact opposite. A fellow activist told the Israeli newspaper Haaretz that, “Moshe chose to harm himself in protest. It’s terrible when a person has to commit an act like that to explain their situation to people”.

The facts are stark. Israel spends only 16 percent of its GDP on public services compared to an average 22 percent across the OECD (http://www.oecd.org/). After Silman’s self-immolation, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the act a “personal tragedy” but in reality Israel is increasingly withdrawing welfare, education and employment opportunities and a safety net for Israeli Jewish citizens.

2011’s J14 protest movement was designed to highlight the growing inequalities in Israeli society, though demanding justice for Palestinians and ending the occupation were notably excluded from the list of demands.

Last year, at least 400,000 Israeli Jews took to the streets to demand a fairer society. It was a middle class revolt against the rising cost of housing and living. But in 2012 organisers are aware that the corporate media, many very close to Netanyahu himself, are far less sympathetic to their message.

Daphni Leef, the initiator of the protest, told the New York Times in mid-July that, “I do not feel that we live in a democracy,” she said. “I feel we live in an oligarchy. A few wealthy families control this country.”

The one group excluded from this conversation are the Palestinians, on both sides of the green line. Their views are largely ignored in the Israeli mainstream and yet they’re expected to serve in the IDF. It is a fanciful idea that most Palestinians are dismissed from a state that clearly sees them as a demographic threat to a majority Jewish population.

What has focused the mind of many Zionist lawmakers is a recent report by former Supreme Court Justice Edmond Levy who found that the occupation isn’t in fact an occupation and the Israeli presence in the West Bank is legal. Despite the fact that every respected international legal body decides that Jewish colonies are against international law, the Israeli government now has a document that merely confirms its belief that ever-expanding settlements can be covered by a legal document.

Levy’s decision has caused heartache in liberal Zionist circles. However, a curious response from JJ Goldberg in the Jewish Forward newspaper wasn’t so worried about the occupation as upsetting allies against Iran’s nuclear program. Rather than condemn the Zionist state for attempting to legitimize the over 600,000 Jewish colonists in the West Bank, Goldberg was scared that Levy’s decision would anger Washington when “Israel is threatened with extinction” from Tehran.

This is ludicrous hyperbole and reveals the dishonesty in supposedly serious journalistic circles. But it’s little different to mainstream Israeli media pundits who simply don’t bother talking or thinking about the Palestinian “problem” but obsess over Iran and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The occupation can be ignored until tomorrow, next week or forever. Soon enough, a person like Levy will create a legal fiction and legalize what the whole world knows to be illegal. The US issues muted criticism and colonization continues apace.

What remains fascinating about the Levy findings – American Zionist organizations still can’t bring themselves to speak clearly and honestly about Jewish housing in the West Bank – is what it means for Palestinian rights under occupation. If there’s no occupation, then surely there would be no problem granting full voting and civil rights to all citizens of the West Bank and Gaza. If that happened today, Jews would soon find themselves a minority. It’s called democracy and it’s something the Zionist leadership fears.

In the meantime, Israeli politicians and most commentators are wondering what the Arab Spring does to their country’s bunker mentality. In short, old friends are now seen as potential enemies (Egypt and Jordan) and allegedly ongoing threats, such as Syria, Hezbollah, Iran and Hamas, are in a period of transition. The Palestinian Spring has yet to happen, not least because the Palestinian Authority is an extension of the Israeli occupation, but Israel is today paying the price for years of seeing itself, as Defense Minister Ehud Barak one quipped, as a “villa in a jungle”. Such attitudes are increasingly challenged in elite political circles, including Britain.

Zionist supremacy and nationalist fervor has convinced many Israelis that the bunker is a comfortable place to reside. Unrivalled military might has allowed this delusion to grow to the point where, according to Israeli historian Tom Segev, “Israelis tend not to be interested in Arabs as people but as enemies. Sure, people will be pleased when Assad falls, as we were when Saddam went. But it won’t make any difference to the cost of renting an apartment in Tel Aviv.”

A viable alternative is the one-state solution, a state in which Israelis and Palestinian live equally. These views, once residing on the fringes on the debate, are increasingly going mainstream. Even a British conservative MP, Bob Stewart, who spent 28 years in the UK military, visited the West Bank and said he was “deeply upset by what I saw.” His response? “Unless the settlements stop, there can be no chance whatever of a two-state solution, and the only alternative … is a one-state solution. One state where Jews and Palestinians recognize one another as equals.Surely that is not totally utopian.”

Zionist fundamentalists also talk today proudly of a one-state equation but a reality in which Arabs remain second-class citizens.

In a new book I’ve edited with Ahmed Moor, After Zionism, we explain both the justice and sense of imagining a one-state future. One chapter, by Nazareth-based journalist Jonathan Cook, highlights the case of Ahmed and Fatina Zbeidat, a Palestinian couple who face systematic discrimination simply because they’re not Jews. It is one case but its message is universal. A partition of land to entrench division in a nation that has spent over six decades of Zionist leadership determined to separate Jews from Palestinians has caused nothing other than pain and racism.

The Israeli social justice activists highlight key concerns of many middle class Israelis, but it will remain a blind movement unless it tackles the historical injustice of Jewish privilege over democratic equality for all.

Antony Loewenstein is an independent journalist, author and co-editor of After Zionism (Saqi Books)

one comment ↪
  • Andrew H

    Hi Antony,

    Thanks for mentioning the new book "After Zionism". I read the Mearsheimer article when it was first published, and the Kindle price of the book, $9.99, is worth it for that article alone!

    All the best,
    Andrew