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.

Introductory passages in For God’s Sake

Following great media coverage over the last week for my new book, For God’s Sake, with Jane Caro, Simon Smart and Rachel Woodlock, here’s an extract by me from the introduction. Please buy the book!

Birth is a beginning
And death a destination.
Rabbi Alvin Fine

This poem has remained with me since childhood, when I remember hearing it recited at my family’s liberal synagogue during Jewish New Year celebrations. It is moving, mysterious, revelatory and lyrical. I recall listening to it as a young boy and not understanding its power.

As I became older and distanced myself from the organised Jewish community, this poem, recited in English and not Hebrew – we were not, after all, Orthodox Jews – has stayed in my mind. Although it doesn’t make me think fondly of Judaism itself, it’s a reminder for me even today of the power of emotive words to conjure both melancholy and warmth.

I was born Jewish in 1974 in Melbourne. I’m an only child to Jeffrey and Violet, liberal Jews who were born in the same city, Melbourne, during the Second World War. Their parents had escaped Nazi Europe and arrived in Australia in 1939. Most of the rest had realised too late the threat posed by Hitler and perished in the death camps. Being Jewish back then, in the heart of supposedly cultured Germany and Austria, was a death sentence. It’s not something I forget.

When I visited the sites of this Holocaust in the 1990s – from Dresden where my father’s family resided to Auschwitz where many of them perished – my affection for Judaism was enhanced, though not with any desire to become more religious. It was a secular Judaism fuelled by resil­ience, a determination to survive and thrive after the greatest catastrophe to befall the Jewish people.

My interest in Judaism was both accidental and intellectual. I had no control over being Jewish, but Judaism continues to fascinate me, espec­ially the various ways Jews can practise the religion and still proudly call themselves Jews.

Close friends in New York regularly attend a synagogue for Human­istic Judaism. Its website states, ‘Judaism is much more than a set of religious beliefs and practices. It is the cumulative cultural and historical experience of the Jewish people. ’5 This is correct, but it then goes on to claim Israel is a key aspect of Jewish identity. When even the most liberal Jewish movements blindly praise Israel in this light, they ignore the country it has become: an occupier and a brute.

Zionism is not the answer. And this ideology has almost compre­hensively forced me away from Judaism and into a Jewish atheism that feels more comforting but also incomplete. Most of my serious relation­ships have been with non-Jewish women and, although the failures of these relationships had nothing to do with my or their religious beliefs, I sometimes wonder what it would be like to be with a Jewish woman who truly understands why I’ve had to reject the organised Jewish community. She’d have to feel as proud as I do of pissing outside the tent rather than within it.

In my teens I started feeling uncomfortable with the casual racism towards Palestinians and Arabs I heard in the Jewish community, from Jewish friends and from my family around the Friday Sabbath table. At that age I wasn’t fully across the reality of the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land but something felt wrong even then. It was a created victimhood born of a collective fear, both real and imagined. Jews, now largely success­ful members of Western society, were powerful and connected but many still clung on to the belief that we were weak and trapped in a ghetto, unwilling to hear criticisms of sacred issues. ‘Don’t air our dirty linen in public, ’I was constantly told. This was shouted routinely in my direction by the time I published my first book, My Israel Question, in 2006.

It was a dangerous delusion that allowed perceived enemies – Muslims, Arabs, Palestinians or ‘the other’ – to threaten our newfound strength. It allowed Jews to claim that Israel, a superpower possessing nuclear arms, was vulnerable when in fact it was the dominant force in the Middle East. Despite this, however, insecurity was the country’s middle name, a disease that has spread like cancer throughout the Jewish diaspora in the last few decades.

By the time I was in my early twenties, Judaism had become indistinguishable from Zionism and we parted company. My lapsed religiosity wasn’t a great loss to the devout in the Melbourne com­munity – I enjoyed bacon and sex and dabbled in drugs – but I felt the religion left me rather than me having to deliver the divorce papers. I didn’t miss most Jewish rituals and almost enjoyed being the outsider critic of the community.

I had never been a regular synagogue attendee. My parents usually had to drag me to a Jewish event or holiday and I don’t recall ever embracing prayer or Jewish spirituality. Although I attended a Jewish group called D&M (Deep and Meaningful) in my teenage years, led by a progressive rabbi, I wasn’t like the others there. Israel was already in many of my friends’ DNA, despite most of them never having been there.

In an age before the internet and easily accessible information that revealed the harshness of Jewish actions against Arabs, it was too easy to romanticise the Zionist state, especially since Melbourne had one of the highest percentages of Holocaust survivors in the world. The community lived in denial about the present and future, convinced that the best way to commemorate old losses was to deify a state that bloomed a few years after 1945. Israeli occupation was largely invisible, dismissed as Palestinian and anti-Semitic propaganda.

My disillusionment with Judaism may seem illogical or even irrat­ional. After all, Judaism isn’t Zionism. Or shouldn’t be. But for the vast bulk of Jewish communities in the last decades, the two ideologies have become interchangeable. You can’t be a Jew if you’re not a Zionist. Being a non-Zionist Jew in any organised sense is virtually impossible in Australia, though nothing stops me, of course, from living my life as a cultural Jew on my own and with close friends.

Naturally, you can be a proud Zionist if you aren’t Jewish, but this usually involves taking a hardline conservative position, embracing evan­gelical Christianity or standing as an Islamophobe after September 11, 2001. Loving Israel is no longer cool, if it ever was, when we’re constantly bombarded with images of rampaging Jewish colonists shooting Pales­tinians; Israeli politicians talking proudly of ethnic cleansing of Arabs; and Knesset members finding ways to censor unpopular, anti-Zionist views. This is what modern, mainstream Judaism has largely become, a deformed beast that encourages debate on most issues except arguably the most important one, Israel. This is the opposite of what I believe a religion should be if it wants to prosper in the twenty-first century.

My Jewish atheism isn’t settled. I feel open to exploring a truly secular religion that embraces diversity. I’ve felt deeply moved and proud to be Jewish when I’ve met members of the Jewish community in Cuba and Iran. They’re resilient in the face of tough conditions. For them, regular prayer is salvation. For me, I felt connected to a global religion that had persevered.

When I hung out with Afghanistan’s only known Jew in 2012 in Kabul, a grumpy, Orthodox man who chastised me for not practising Passover during my visit and showed me the country’s only known synagogue near his basic, one-room apartment where a box of matzo sat on the table, I was surprised by my emotional response. I felt proud to be Jewish. Here was a solitary man, offered asylum in America and Israel, but dedicated to remaining proudly in Afghanistan, a man who had survived years under the Taliban and remained openly Jewish.

My reaction had nothing to do with Israel, Zionism or the Middle East. It was a visceral response that left me wondering if my Judaism was lying dormant and could be awakened by the sight of Jews living in a repressive regime. What did that say about my faith? Today, nearing forty, I wonder if my appreciation of the Jewish faith, one not besmirched by the state of Israel, leaves me vulnerable to reintegration into some kind of progressive, secular, cultural, anti-occupation, anti-Zionist Jewish community.

I’m still looking for that comfortable space.