Around the world popular protests are changing the political equilibrium. In Egypt, Yemen, Bahrain and Tunisia, and in different ways in Syria and Libya people are taking decisions and protesting to overturn despotic regimes. In Israel, 3,383 tents have been erected on city streets by lower middle class and working class Israelis, mostly Jews but also some Palestinians, calling for social justice – , fairer incomes, social housing, better education and health provision in a country whose economy is powered by its military and by the occupation of Palestinian lands. The three weeks protests have been peaceful and creative with 300,000 people demonstrating for social justice. The police is now considering dismantling the tents (because of Tel Aviv residents’ complaints about noise in their leafy streets, but also in preparation for September’s Palestinian state declaration, which the Israeli army and police are preparing to subdue), but Prime Minister Netanyahu has pleaded with the police not to dismantle the tents – he is terrified of the consequences of not being seen to side with those whose demands he knows are justified. Read more
Religion is fast replacing other ideologies such as Marxism-Leninism and anti-colonialism as determining social and political relations in our postmodern world. One result of the post September 11 world has been the demonization of Islam and the ‘politics of fear’ around the discourse of Islamic fundamentalism. This is despite the fact that fundamentalism, that potent ‘f word’, is originally Protestant, not Muslim, put forward in California in 1910 in a pamphlet titled The Fundamentals: A Testimony of Truth, which was circulated in 3 million copies, aiming to stop the erosion of what they saw as the ‘fundamental’ beliefs of Protestantism. Read more
A letter I sent to the Irish Times on 24 December 2009
Fintan O’Toole’s (spot-on as ever) article on the ironies of the Bishops’ multiculturalism (December 22, 2009, http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/opinion/2009/1222/1224261109443.html) has broader ironic implications.
One irony relates to the church’s role in migrant integration. Having lost their key role in education and health service provision, Catholic religious orders have been working with migrants, refugees and asylum seekers. While extremely useful, many of the projects initiated by relilgious orders are run by white, Christian, settled Irish people, without giving leadership roles to migrants and other racialised people. This top down, and at time destructive approach means that migrants have little say in how these organisations are
funded and run. Read more