Monday, January 10, 2011

A hotel is demolished in Jerusalem and that attracts the attention of the U.S. Secretary of State?

It shows how picky everyone is about the minutest thing that is done in Israel. The evil eye never leaves the Jews

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton early today condemned Israel's demolition of an east Jerusalem hotel complex, saying it undermines chances for peace with the Palestinians. "We are very concerned about initiation of demolition of the Shepherd's Hotel in east Jerusalem," Mrs Clinton said after arriving in Abu Dhabi for talks on the stalled Middle East peace process as well as on Iran and Iraq.

"This disturbing development undermines peace efforts to achieve two state-solution," the chief US diplomat said in a statement. "In particular, this move contradicts the logic of a reasonable and necessary agreement between the parties on the status of Jerusalem. "We believe that through good faith negotiations, the parties should mutually agree on an outcome that realises the aspirations of both parties for Jerusalem, and safeguards its status for people around the world.

"Ultimately, the lack of a resolution to this conflict harms Israel, harms the Palestinians, and harms US and the international community. "We will continue to press ahead with the parties to resolve the core issues, including Jerusalem, in the context of a peace agreement."

The Palestinians reacted furiously to the demolition of part of the Hotel Shepherd, which sits on a plot of land in annexed east Jerusalem where developers plan to build a complex of 20 luxury apartments for Jewish settlers.

US-brokered peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians have been on hold since late September, when an Israeli freeze on the construction of Jewish settlements expired. Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas has insisted he will not hold peace talks while Israel continues to build on land which the Palestinians want for their future state.


What women really want

RARELY do social theorists cause a public furore outside their ivory towers -- except for Catherine Hakim, feminist foe and author of such provocative works as Mummy, I Want to be a Housewife.

Last year, in Erotic Capital, she claimed that women's looks, sexuality and charm should be as highly valued as assets usually held in higher regard, such as brains - and she cited prostitutes, model Katie Price, wives and girlfriends of sportsmen, princess Diana and Madonna. Now she has done it again.

Hakim argues, in a new paper called Feminist Myths and Magic Medicine, that women still want to "marry up": to marry men who are richer and cleverer than them. She says "most of the theories and ideas built up around gender equality in the past few decades are wrong" and that "despite feminist claims, the truth is that most men and women have different career aspirations and priorities".

The paper has caused merry hell since it was published last week. Those who think the sex war is far from over accuse Hakim of an outrage. One says: "It's like we're going back to Jane Austen. I am so anti-Hakim; she is all about the de-powering of women."

Campaigners at the Fawcett Society, a feminist think tank, complain: "[Hakim's] claims come at a time when women's rights are being undermined by government cuts which threaten to put women's progress back by a generation. "She has this ideological bent that brings into play an old-fashioned stereotype that threatens the progress made in women's lives."

Others think she is saying things that need to be said. "The truth is women often end up earning less because somebody has to stay at home and be the parent. And until men can have babies, that will be the mother," Amber Rust, an Oxford-educated stay-at-home mother, says. The idea of women accepting and even desiring financial dependence, says Rust, "is an unpalatable truth, but Hakim is spot on. The truth hurts."

As the arguments rage, a YouGov survey for The Sunday Times suggests Hakim has a point. It reveals that 64 per cent of women of all political views, ages and locations would have preferred to marry a man who earned more than them.

But only 19 per cent want a better educated man (against 62 per cent who sought men with the same sort of education). More women (31 per cent) think they are better educated than their spouses than vice versa (19 per cent).

Asked whether, if money were not a worry, they would prefer to stay at home with their children, 55 per cent said yes. And 53 per cent agreed that society puts pressure on women with children to go to work. Is that another sign that, as Hakim would have it, women want a rich husband and to enjoy domestic life? Or does such data conceal more complex influences at play?

Hakim, a senior research fellow in the sociology department at the London School of Economics, is a curious woman. Mostly she contributes to academic conversation with fellow social theorists, economists and, as she puts it, "that gender studies lot".

Every so often, she surfaces in the mainstream as an agent provocateur. She has made her name with a stream of papers that point a finger at modern women in the workplace.

Academically, she is known for her preference theory, which states that women make their own choices about work and home life - a basic criticism of many feminist assumptions. She is a defender of the theory that male dominance is inevitable and has been cited as saying that "it explains some of the more inconvenient facts about women as well as men".

Feminist Myths and Magic Medicine was originally intended as an academic paper but her submission to the journal of the European Sociological Association was roundly rejected by four peers. Instead, it was eventually published by the Thatcherite Centre for Policy Studies. "There's no point in publishing something like this in an academic journal, it's too un-PC for them," Hakim says.

She's not kidding. Sri Lanka is a better model of equality than Sweden, she writes. Government policy to promote equality is "magic medicine" and counter-productive. Women already have their equal opportunities. The sex war is over, she declares.

There is no shortage of women applauding her. One Goldman Sachs banker supports Hakim's theory that emphasis on equality can undermine women's achievements. She describes how she was unable to enjoy a genuinely earned promotion because colleagues suspected it was down to a general "boost the number of female MDs" policy.

Belinda Robertson, chief executive of a company selling cashmere clothing, says: "We've made women a special case and not equal. That's not how we want to be considered, as tokens on boards. Women don't do themselves any favours, abusing the system. "I employ lots of women with kids; they're much harder working, very efficient. But having a child is a conscious choice; it involves a lot of sacrifice. You can't have everything."

Others challenge Hakim's suggestion that the pay gap between men and women is no longer relevant. The head of policy and campaigns at the Fawcett Society, Anna Bird, disputes her figures.

"Unequal pay is far from consigned to history," Bird says. "Forty years after the [UK] Equal Pay Act, women can expect to earn 15.5 per cent less than men. Some 45,000 women are currently fighting equal pay claims."

A human resources director for a London law firm says: "The bottom line is men are still making the decisions. I see them daily deciding women don't deserve a pay rise or promotion."

Hakim claims the data supports her conclusions. "Research evidence consistently shows that most husbands are the main breadwinners in their family and that most mothers would prefer not to have the competing demands of family work and paid jobs," she says.

Some experts dispute her interpretation that the data shows women making truly free choices between careers and domestic life.

The University of Cambridge Centre for Gender Studies' director Jude Brown says: "Hakim belongs to the school of thought that interprets certain inequalities as reflections of the choices that individuals make. "The thinking here is that these choices are related to people's preferences. But for there to be a real choice there need to be different options, instead of just herding people into stereotypical roles. For most families seeking to balance child care and work, there is no real choice.

"We do need more policy provision and it should be focused on, for example, adequately paid parental leave [as opposed to just maternity leave] and more affordable child care. The current prescriptions of how we should live serve to sustain the robust nature of the status quo."

Another critic, Adrienne Burgess, is head of research at the Fatherhood Institute, a think tank that works to "transform children's lives by focusing society on the importance of positively involved fathers".

"I don't disagree with the stats. I disagree with her conclusions," Burgess says. "We need legislation to break old models, so fathers can get involved with parenting more easily, otherwise we fall into the old models Hakim seems to prefer. "The statistics do not mean the sex war is won. They herald [that] it is time for a new phase, a time for legislation to make the workplace more family friendly. Quite why this woman wants to shut the door on progress, I don't know."

For her part, "this woman" argues: "Everything should be gender neutral. When it comes to maternity and paternity leave, let people make their own choice. "I'm just saying that the data shows that mostly women like raising kids and mostly fathers are not that keen on doing it full-time. "Social, structural and cultural forces are in place, so if a man doesn't have a full-time job people will look down on him."

Rust remains adamantly a Hakim fan. "I love this woman, I want to go out for lunch with her. "And I love this line: 'Financial dependence on a man has lost none of its attractions after the equal opportunities revolution.' "


Stop and rethink British police powers

It seems that senior police officers have told ministers that they need new counter-terrorism powers to stop and search people without having to suspect them of any involvement in crime. Police, including the Met, believe they need these powers to guard against attempted attacks on big events such as the 2012 Olympics.

Hmm. As we know from bitter experience, if we give the police these powers, they will be used – and not necessarily for the purposes for which they were intended. Witness the detention, under anti-terrorism powers, of Walther Wolfgang, who dared heckle the Foreign Secretary at a Labour Party conference, or Sally Cameron who audaciously walked on a path marked as a cycle path in Dundee docks.

I actually think that it's perfectly reasonable for the police to stop us and ask what we are up to, provided they don't make a big bureaucratic deal out of it. A Canadian TV crew I was doing an interview for some months ago asked if they could do some set-up shots of me walking in the street and going into the office. Within one minute of them humping their enormous camera out onto the pavement, a squad car drew up (Westminster is the CCTV capital of the globe) and we were all asked to explain ourselves – and fill out a yellow form giving our name, address, height, sex, eye colour and probably religion.

Talk about rotten public relations. I would have had no problem with this if they had stopped us, asked us what we were doing and requested some ID, and parted with a cheery 'that's perfectly fine, thank you sir, carry on'. I would have been glad to help, and pleased that our friends in blue were so on the ball. But as it is, the bureaucracy of the exercise – though designed to prove that the police are being even handed in whom they stop – actually drives a wedge between the public and the police. It becomes an us and them situation, instead of a situation where we are all on the same side against a real threat.

We all know the police can haul us in and keep us locked up for 28 days without trial. We just don't want them to act like they can. If I believed that the police would use the powers they seek responsibly, I would have little problem over the issue. As it is, I'm not so sure.


Australia's Cardinal Pell upsets a few applecarts

His Eminence is a doughty warrior for his faith. No watered-down Gospel for him -- to the consternation of the Left

PREMIER Kristina Keneally has lashed out at the head of her church in Australia, saying she was "saddened" by Cardinal George Pell for denouncing Catholic politicians who do not follow the church's teachings. In an exclusive interview, Ms Keneally said Cardinal Pell risked being "interpreted as condemnatory and threatening" by urging MPs to stick to their religious convictions when making policy decisions on contentious social issues such as same-sex marriage.

Ms Keneally, a deeply committed Catholic with a Masters degree in religious studies, said: "I read those comments from the Archbishop and, if anything, they saddened me. "Almost every Catholic politician I know takes their responsibility as an elected representative and their faith very seriously. Many have really struggled, as have I, when moral issues require us to vote - and particularly when it is a conscience vote."

Cardinal Pell told The Sunday Telegraph last week that Catholic politicians couldn't have it both ways on sensitive moral issues such as gay marriage and euthanasia, saying it was "incongruous for somebody to be a Captain Catholic one minute, saying they're as good a Catholic as the Pope, then voting against the established Christian traditions".

His remarks caused a split among Catholic MPs who have been grappling with contentious issues such as same-sex marriage, gay adoptions and euthanasia.

Liberal NSW Upper House MP David Clarke agreed with the Cardinal. "You can't just use your religion when you want to," he said.

Member for Lakemba Tony Stewart said: "I found those comments from Pell bizarre and straight from the 1950s. "Trying to get politicians to vote in accordance to the Catholic Church is really to the detriment of what parliamentary representation is all about in Australia."

In a swipe at Cardinal Pell, suggesting he could be more helpful, Ms Keneally said: "Politicians of faith often would like to turn to religious leaders for pastoral advice and guidance, and sometimes that's not available."

She said she disagreed with the Catholic church on some points and with some of its social teachings, including the church's views on abortion.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here or Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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