Arab-Israeli, Islam, Middle East, Monarchy, Politics, Religion, Saudi Arabia, September 11, Uncategorized

Saudi Arablia: reconciling tradition with modernity.

The Saudi regime’s main criterion for success in balancing their traditional religious values with modernization has been holding on to power. To ensure their survival as rulers of Saudi Arabia, the ruling faction of the Al-Saud family have harnessed advances in technology and embraced new techniques of governance. These transformations, which have been largely facilitated by the enormous wealth that …


Arab-Israeli, Book Review, Immigration, Islam, Middle East, Politics, Religion, Uncategorized

The origins of Likud Ideology

(Published in Village Magazine, December, 2014) It has been said that there are two possible solutions to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: one realistic the other miraculous. The realistic solution involves divine intervention; the miraculous, a voluntary agreement between the parties. The latest round of conflict is, mercifully, largely over. On August 26th, both Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA) accepted a …


Catholicise-nation

(Published in Village Magazine, April 2016) Michel Aflaq (1910-1989) was the principle ideologue of the pan-Arabist Ba’ath Socialist party still ruling Syria and previously Iraq under Saddam Hussein. Although born Christian he believed Islam to be proof of Arab genius and allegedly converted before his death in Baghdad. The Arabs were a motley collection of illiterate warring tribes inhabiting the …

The Scapegoat

(version in Village Magazine, May 2015) The Charlie Hebdo attacks by individuals purporting to represent Islam have again linked that religion to violent behaviour anathema to Western, liberal values. From stoning of adulterers to beheadings and burning alive of infidels, flogging bloggers and even female genital mutilation (fgm), a picture registers of a religion stubbornly rooted in a barbaric past, …

The Satements of Osama bin Laden

(Unpublished, 2005) “There is no reason, based on the information at hand, to believe bin Laden is anything other what he appears: a pious, charismatic, gentle, generous, talented, and personally courageous Muslim. As a historical figure viewed from any angle, Osama bin Laden is a great man, one who has smashed the expected unfolding of universal post-cold war peace.” This …

September 11

(Published in La Vanguardia online, translated by Alvaro Reynolds, 2001) It is exceptional that a news story produces shock waves across the world. An event like the death of Princess Diana dominated the media, at least in the United Kingdom but it was somehow parochial, pop cultural, and at times comical. Even those who lit their ‘candle in the wind’ …

Perhaps Ireland can learn from Muslims

(Unpublished, 2005) In a recent article (8/3/2005) Kevin Myers contends that Ireland ‘lacks any real awareness of the enormously complex problems which lie ahead of us as our cities are being transformed by immigration’ before proceeding to offer a typically superficial analysis of what he deems this “complex problem”. The target of Myers’s ire is what he terms Islamic fundamentalism …

Life Under Assad

(Published in Village Magazine November, 2012) I think I may be one of only a handful of people, not engaged in espionage, to have travelled overland on the same day from Jerusalem and Damascus since the foundation of Israel in 1948. Then, in 2003, Israeli border officials allowed travellers to avoid permanent stamps, but the Jordanian entry visa I had …

Qunetra

(Unpublished, 2005) Living in Syria the relentless barrage of anti-Israeli propaganda is exhausting. Zionist agents apparently lurk on every street corner and foreigners avoid the unwanted attention of moustachioed Mukhabarat agents by referring in public to Israel as the “country with no name.” Syrian television features programmes depicting the bloodstained excesses of the Israeli Defence Forces while ordinary Syrians express …

A Revolution in Work

Contemporary job insecurity is more than a response to dominant neo-Liberalism. The pace of technological change gives less of a role for human beings with millions of jobs predicted to disappear. With the advance of third and even fourth level education a serious mismatch has emerged between skill sets and the requirements of our economies. Only a revolution in work …