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Bloodline diaspora nations

d79ed795d7a1d794-d79ed7a8d799d794On 14-15 May a Diaspora Forum conference was held in Fitzpatrick’s Hotel in Dublin. It aimed to celebrate migration, migrants and the contribution the diaspora makes to home countries. Keynote speaker, the Economist business editor Robert Guest celebrated mass migration, which, he said, makes the world brainier. If a century ago, migrants crossed the ocean and never saw their homeland again, today they phone or Skype home the moment their plane lands. Thanks to cheap travel and easy communications, immigrants stay in contact with home, creating powerful cross-border networks that create wealth, spread ideas and foster innovation.

Diaspora, contributors to the conference emphasised, is mostly about economics: through remittances, philanthropy and direct diaspora investment, members of the diaspora are primarily seen as alumni who their original state needs to touch for contributions – a discourse all too familiar to anyone working in today’s neoliberal universities. Workshops debated the role of governments in engaging their diasporas across multiple sectors and constructing strategies aimed to create partnerships between government and diaspora. To copper fasten such engagements, the conference also discussed the payback in terms of granting migrants voting rights, and working for ‘host country integration and return migration platforms’. Read the rest of this entry »

Miko Peled: Political activism at a price

miko-peledIn  the wake of the UK and Ireland tour by Israeli peace activist Miko Peled, I want to write about an email exchange I had with him and reflect on left wing Israelis profiting from Israel’s occupation of Palestine.

Though troubling, the dialogue was straightforward enough. Miko posted his plans for his UK and Ireland lecture tour on his Facebook page. After I heard he was charging for his Irish leg of the tour, I asked him on Facebook how much he was charging. He asked me to email him – he clearly did not want his fees disclosed in the public Facebook space. This was the email exchange, on March 31.

Miko: “I usually ask for $1500-$2500.  During my UK tour coming up I asked 500-1000 pounds. Why do you ask?”

Me: “I am asking because it rankles with me that you are making a living from the oppression of Palestinians, I suppose”.

Miko: “This is a cynical thing to say, and quite foolish, and considering my work it is totally uncalled for. Still, you can be rankled all you like, I am not the one oppressing the Palestinians, nor am I the one making a living off of their oppression.
I have a message that people want to hear, many people and I think it is an important one. I had to decide whether to sell my business and spread the message or stay home. I opted for the former I cannot afford to do it for free. Unlike others, I am independent, self employed and there is no institution or government that will pay to spread the message that I convey. It is excruciatingly hard work, to constantly travel and speak, there is plenty of money out there and I don’t see why it has to be done for free”.

On April 6, Miko published his UK and Ireland itinerary, enabling me to do a quick calculation, giving him the benefit of the doubt and allowing £500 (rather than £1,000) for each UK lecture and €500 for the Irish leg of the tour: Read the rest of this entry »

After Obama?

yes-we-killWhat did President Barack Obama’s visit to the Middle East actually achieve? Although many people dared expect him to express stronger views on the continued Israeli occupation of the West Bank and blockade of Gaza, Obama used his ‘charm offensive’ to assure Israelis that the United States remains on their side.

As helicopters circled the skies, and Jerusalem and Ramallah were closed off to all non residents, Obama’s speech in Ramallah played down the Jewish-only settlements by saying that the US does not see them as ‘constructive’ or ‘appropriate’ for peace, but stopping short of calling for their dismantling, which prompted the Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas to uncharacteristically interject in describing them as illegitimate and more than an obstacle to peace.

In Israel Obama did all the usual things, including the obligatory visit to the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial Museum. But attention was focused on his speech at the Jerusalem International Convention Centre to thousands of Israeli students and academics. One of the phrases he used, in Hebrew, was ‘you are not alone’ – though using no similar phrase in Arabic when he spoke in Ramallah. Israeli Ha’aretz columnist Gideon Levy saw in this speech much hope because, after assuring Israel that the US is still on its side, Obama insisted that the only way forward is peace and a two states solution. Obama also stressed that the Iran threat is not only Israel’s problem, insisting that Israel must not go it alone and attack Iran without US approval. Read the rest of this entry »

End direct provision system

asylum-seekersI have written about the direct provision system several times. It is an inhumane system, in which hostel managers have the discretion to maltreat asylum seekers at will, and in which asylum seekers live in ‘zones of exception’ where the law pertaining to Irish citizens does not apply. Several reports have detailed the problems faced by asylum seekers in direct provision. However, although asylum seekers are never just victims of the system and although many have used inventive strategies to improve their condition despite not being allowed to work or study, only recently has a group of residents decided to spell the realities of their incarceration out.

Contrary to the Reception and Integration Agency (RIA)’s own House Rules and Procedures Booklet, this group, residing in Eyre Powell Hotel in Co Kildare, has outlined the realities of their existence. Let me look at some of RIA’s regulations and some of the realities. Read the rest of this entry »

Headless hookers and suitcase bodies

In July 2004 a badly decomposed body, described by the media as that of ‘a black non-national woman’ was discovered in a black plastic bag on a river bank in Co Kilkenny. Because she arrived as an asylum seeker in 2000, and, like all asylum seekers, had been fingerprinted, Gardai identified her through the finger printing data base at the Garda National Immigration Bureau as that of the 25 year old married mother of two Paiche Onyemaechi. She turned out to be the daughter of the Malawian chief justice and a lap dancer and prostitute. Because her body was found without a head by a local Kilkenny woman walking her dog, it did not take long for media representations to describe Paiche Onyemaechi as a ‘headless hooker’. Read the rest of this entry »

12/18/2017 Migrant Activism and Integration from Below in Ireland

Edited by Ronit Lentin and Elena Moreo Palgrave MacMillan, 2012...read more
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