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.

Zionist rabbi tackles “For God’s Sake” (and gets confused)

My recent book For God’s Sake is reviewed by Rabbi John Levi, ironically the former rabbi at my family synagogue in Melbourne where I grew up. Suffice to say, we have no contact today, and haven’t for years, and he’s one of the classic Zionist Jews who places tribal loyalty above commitment to human rights in Palestine. His review appears in the Zionist lobby AIJAC publication and is more of an attempt to show his intelligence than engage with the work. Readers should remember that for many in the Jewish faith, entry requires adherence to blind Zionism:

For God’s Sake: An Atheist, a Jew, a Christian and a Muslim Debate Religion
By Jane Caro, Antony Loewenstein, Simon Smart and Rachel Woodlock; Pan Macmillan, Australia, 2013.

There is the classic story about a young couple who came to see a Rabbi. The Rabbi listened attentively to their problem and said to the wife “you are right”. The husband put forward his case. The Rabbi listened carefully to him and said “You are right, too”. The Rabbi’s wife overheard the interview and questioned her husband, ‘If she is right and he is right, how can you be right?” The Rabbi replied “And you are right too.”

I happen to know two of the protagonists in this debate, in book form, about religion. I shared a pre-doctoral seminar with the brilliant Rachel Woodlock who is a Bahai convert to Islam. And, to my eternal embarrassment, I was once Antony Loewenstein’s rabbi. The publisher’s press blurb describes Loewenstein as “proudly culturally Jewish but vehemently anti-orthodox”. That description is bizarre.

As we all know, arguing about religion is pretty pointless. It is usually a case of “I am right” and “He is wrong”. Except for Jews. Jews don’t see the world in a binary, right and wrong, Hellenistic process. The sacred texts of Judaism don’t work that way. In the first place they were written in a language that didn’t inscribe the vowels. You have to fill in the gaps by yourself with the aid of tradition and common sense. And tradition often provides us with alternative truths.

For example, one narrative in Genesis says that the animals entered Noah’s ark two by two while a parallel account speaks of the “clean” animals being saved from the rising waters seven by seven.

The question of which account is factual is regarded as irrelevant. You can choose one or the other and/or both. As Rachel Woodlock writes in the concluding section of the book “there is a difference between factuality and truth” and the deepest religious truths are frequently expressed in metaphor and myth.

And so, on to the “debate”.

Jane Caro, explains that she is an atheist and introduces the book by writing how “revealing (it was) to me personally to see what we all agree on” with “grace, humour, civility, flexibility and decency.” If only those words were true. It is hardly gracious of Antony Loewenstein to dub the only Jewish State in the world “an occupier and a brute” and write that “mainstream Judaism has largely become, a deformed beast.”

Thank you Jane Caro for publishing such a “civil”, “flexible” and “decent” vituperative assault on Israel and Judaism and for obviously not understanding how offensive Loewenstein is.

Dr. Kenneth Levin, a clinical instructor in psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, has written a book called The Oslo Syndrome – Delusions of a People Under Siege (Smith and Kraus, 2005) which defines such behaviour as the “delusions of the abused” (p. xvii). On examining Jews by birth who perceive other Jews as conforming to antisemitic caricatures. Dr. Levin writes “Both the self-deprecating and grandiose distortions of reality have a common source. A wish to believe Israel to be in control of profoundly stressful circumstances over which it, unfortunately, has no real control. Genuine peace will come to the Middle East when the Arab world, by far the dominant party in the region, perceives peace is in its interest.”

Leaving the Middle East behind us, the remaining chapters of the debate are enjoyable and often enlightening. Theologically, a monotheistic Jewish reader will inevitably feel most comfortable with Rachel Woodlock’s Sufi faith. Simon Smart articulately presents an enlightened Christian viewpoint but, if you don’t believe that Jesus of Nazareth was the epitome of everything good, much of his commentary is lost. Jane Caro, the designer of the debate contentiously presents a rather naïve and unsophisticated atheistic narrative.

Theologically, we are all post-Holocaust and post-Hiroshima communities with the terrible prospect of a nuclear confrontation. The four contributors were asked to write about the impact and existence of evil and their answers are, for the most part, blithely inadequate. I would have expected all four of them to dwell on the events of the murderous twentieth century ranging from Rwanda to Cambodia, Mao to Stalin. They didn’t. To his credit, only Loewenstein deals movingly with the Holocaust but then carefully explains how he recently claimed a German passport because of his (annihilated) relatives.

It is good to read an Australian book whose theme is the state of religious belief. It is easy to read and entertaining. But sadly, a Jewish reader will also feel frustrated and hurt.

Rabbi John S Levi AM is Rabbi Emeritus of Temple Beth Israel in Melbourne and a historian who has published a number of books on the history of the Australian Jewish community.