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.

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.

Max Brenner soon to open at leading Australian university?

Max Brenner is a chocolate shop that deserves all the protests it receives, namely because it supports the Israeli military.

Here’s the latest development in Australia in a story by Ammy Singh in Tharunka newspaper from the University of NSW:

The probable opening of a Max Brenner chocolate store at UNSW this year has prompted concerned students to question the decision to allow on campus a corporation affiliated with elements of the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF), who are accused of war crimes against the Palestinian people.

Acting President of Students for Justice in Palestine UNSW, Ali Hosseini, told Tharunka that he was disappointed that a respected academic institution such as the university would “stoop so low as to do business with Max Brenner”, demanding the university withdraw from working with the company.

Concerns with Max Brenner stem from the global Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign, formed in 2005 by 171 Palestinian non-government organisations, with the aim of securing the self-determination of the Palestinian people by exercising non-violent punitive measures against the Israeli state.

The owner of the Max Brenner chain, the Israeli conglomerate Strauss Group, supports and provides “care rations” for the Israeli military, including the Golani and Givati brigades of the IDF. Both brigades stand accused of war crimes in the Palestinian territories during the 2008/09 Gaza War, which saw the deaths of over 1300 Palestinians, the majority of whom were civilians.

Israel has refused to cooperate with a United Nations investigation into the war, and has also refused entry into Israel to Richard Falk, the UN’s special rapporteur on human rights in the Palestinian territories, since his appointment in 2008.

According to Hosseini, it is this link to the Strauss Group that implicates Max Brenner, and in turn UNSW, in the human rights abuses of the Israeli state. “Support for a company like Max Brenner is support for military occupation and settlement expansion on Palestinian land,” he said.

“UNSW hosts a wide range of students from around the world who are very much concerned with the ethical and humanitarian issues surrounding the business deals UNSW engages in.”

However, the move to allow a Max Brenner store on campus comes after the chocolate shop was identified in the top three food and beverage outlet suggestions by students and staff in the 2011 Retail Survey conducted by UNSW.

The survey was completed by nearly 7000 students and staff, the most successful participation rate of any survey conducted by UNSW.

Neil Morris, Vice-President of University Services, told Tharunka the results of the 2011 Retail Survey “drove almost 100 per cent” the eventual decisions as to which food outlets to allow on campus.

Steven Tropoulos, Property Services Manager at Facilities Management, also cited experiential and commercial concerns as deciding factors in addition to the survey results, but added, “It wasn’t an autocratic decision; it was a democratic process.”

Morris agreed, “Did everybody get a vote? Obviously not. But was everybody asked to have a vote? Yes.”

Morris confirmed Max Brenner had placed a tender to lease retail space at UNSW, and was selected by the university due to — amongst financial considerations — the ability of the company to fulfil the demand for a chocolate store as indicated in the 2011 Retail Survey.

“I think it’s a very big jump to say the university is implicitly condoning the actions of war criminals by doing business with Max Brenner,” Morris said, while acknowledging students are entitled to hold a different opinion on the BDS campaign against the company.

“We’re not doing anything different to what many [local] councils do in letting Max Brenner stores open. Our view would be that we’re putting a provider of chocolate on campus; a provider that people are happy to have on campus.”

Sabina Baunin, President of the Australasian Union of Jewish Students UNSW, also contended the Max Brenner store will be a popular addition to campus food outlets.

“I think members of the UNSW community at large might be a bit disappointed if fringe groups turn this into something political, when the students really just want to enjoy some incredible chocolate.”

Antony Loewenstein, co-founder of Independent Australian Jewish Voices, told Tharunka such views ignore the political positions of corporations, and fail to acknowledge the complicity of Max Brenner in the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories.

“The reality is this is not just a chocolate shop. There has been a deliberate attempt by the organisation to normalise the shop, but corporations don’t operate in a moral, legal and ethical vacuum,” he said. “Max Brenner has made a determined effort for a number of years to be directly connected to the IDF.”

“I would say to university management that if you open a Max Brenner on campus, you are guaranteeing legitimate peaceful protest against that shop. And if that’s the kind of attraction you want to have at the university, then go right ahead.”

SRC Ethnic Affairs Officer, Charlotte Lewis, expressed scepticism at the likelihood of a BDS campaign against Max Brenner succeeding at UNSW.

“As university students in Sydney, I feel we should be focussing more on university life and life in Australia, rather than protesting things that are really beyond anyone’s control in Australia,” she said. “However, it’s good to protest if students want to get their voices heard.”

UNSW student Bec Hynek, member of the Palestine Action Group Sydney and Jews Against the Occupation, said Australian university students have a history of protesting global concerns.

“Students have often been at the forefront of being opposed to apartheid in South Africa and being involved in anti-war movements. It’s students especially who have a stake in not accepting [Max Brenner] on our campus.”

Loewenstein agreed. “Having spent a lot of time in Palestine, it does make a difference to people there under occupation to feel like individuals or groups on the other side of the world are providing political and moral support to their cause.”

Noted American political critic and author, Noam Chomsky, told Tharunka that participation in the BDS campaign is a valid means of protest for individuals worldwide against corporations, such as Max Brenner, affiliated with the Israeli state.

“There is no serious doubt that all Israeli settlements and development in the occupied territories are in violation of core principles of international law. This has been determined by every relevant authority: the United Nations Security Council, the International Court of Justice and, in the case of the Golan Heights and Jerusalem, Security Council resolutions specific to those cases. Israel’s leading legal authorities advised the government that all settlements programs are in violation of international law in late 1967, when the programs were being initiated.

“Human Rights Watch has urged the US government to withhold funding to Israel ‘in an amount equivalent to its expenditures on settlements and related infrastructure in the West Bank’, and to bar tax exemption from organisations ‘that support settlements and settlement-related activities’.

“The same considerations hold for individuals. It is their responsibility to avoid any support for Israel’s illegal activities in the occupied territories. Individuals can meet this responsibility by participating in such activities as boycotts, and pressures for sanctions and divestment.

“These are entirely legitimate and demonstrably effective methods of non-violent action to oppose severe criminal acts, which are causing immense suffering and standing in the way of hope for a peaceful diplomatic resolution of the Israel-Palestine conflict.”

Max Brenner Australia declined the opportunity to comment on this issue, instead directing Tharunka to General Manager Yael Kaminski’s comments in The Australian, which staunchly deny any connection beyond brand ownership between the Strauss Group and Max Brenner Australia.

  • Kevin C Herbert

    In the good ol’ Vietnam protest days, if say, Latrobe Uni management in Victoria pulled a stunt like this, the young Socialist Movement would ensure that the Max Brenner shop wouldn’t last a week.

    There’s so many ways to sabotage this witless management move, I’m enjoying just thinking about it!!!

    Let’s hope that Alexander Gutman (aka Austin Tayshus/ Truckus) & his pal Nona Wendt arrive to offer their support to the Israeli Defence Force terrorists, as they did during the protest outside a Max Brenner shop in the Melbourne CBD in 2011.

    It’s all a bit of a soft breeze in a hot chocolate mug really.

  • Kevin Herbert


    My comment last night was legit