Friday, July 25, 2014

France's Jews Flee As Rioters Burn Paris Shops, Attack Synagogue

France's politicians and community leaders have criticised the "intolerable" violence against Paris' Jewish community, after a pro-Palestinian rally led to the vandalizing and looting of Jewish businesses and the burning of cars.

It is the third time in a week where pro-Palestinian activists have clashed with the city's Jewish residents. On Sunday, locals reported chats of "Gas the Jews" and "Kill the Jews", as rioters attacked businesses in the Sarcelles district, known as "little Jerusalem".

Manuel Valls, France's prime minister said: “What happened in Sarcelles is intolerable. An attack on a synagogue and on a kosher shop is simply anti-Semitism. Nothing in France can justify this violence.”

Francois Pupponi, the mayor of Sarcelles, told BFMTV that the violent attacks were carried out by a "horde of savages."

"When you head for the synagogue, when you burn a corner shop because it is Jewish-owned, you are committing an anti-Semitic act," interior minister Bernard Cazeneuve told reporters at a press conference at the local synagogue.

Eighteen people were arrested for attacks on shops, including a kosher supermarket, a Jewish-owned chemist and a funeral home. Rioters, who carried batons and threw petrol bombs according to eyewitnesses, were yards from the synagogue when they were driven back by riot police who used tear gas.

“They were shouting: ‘Death to Jews,’ and ‘Slit Jews’ throats’,” David, a Jewish sound engineer told The Times. “It took us back to 1938.”

“We called our town 'Little Jerusalem' because we felt at home here,” Laetitia, a longtime Sarcelles resident, told France 24. “We were safe, there were never any problems. And I just wasn't expecting anything like this. We are very shocked, really very shocked."

Roger Cuikerman, head of the Representative Council of Jewish Institutions in France told Radio France International: "They are not screaming, 'Death to the Israelis' on the streets of Paris. They are screaming, "Death to the Jews." The community was not just scared, but "anguished."

The government had banned a demonstration planned in Paris for Saturday, but posters were seen around the area which said “Come equipped with hammers, fire extinguishers and batons" and promised a "raid on the Jewish district”.

France has around half a million Jews, the biggest population in Europe, and around five million Muslims.

The Society for the Protection of the Jewish Community's figures suggest that anti-Jewish violence is seven times higher than in the 1990s, and 40% of racist violence is against Jews, despite them making up just 1% of the population.

In March 2012, a shooting spree by Mohammed Merah in the south of France left three French soldiers, three Jewish schoolchildren and a rabbi dead. The gunman claimed a connection to al Qaeda.

More than a thousand Jews have made aliyah (the term used when Jews immigrate to Israel) in the past 10 days, according to the Israeli government.

"I came because of anti-Semitism,” said teary-eyed Veronique Rivka Buzaglo, one of 430 immigrants who arrived from France the day before. "You see it in the eyes of people. I see it in everything," she told HuffPost.

Buzaglo says nothing would have stopped her from becoming an Israeli citizen this week - not even the rocket sirens frequently blaring in the south of the country, where she plans to live.


Public backs British bakery in 'gay cake' row, says poll: Six in ten believe proposed court action over owners' refusal to bake cake is wrong

A majority of the country thinks the persecution of a bakery for refusing to make a cake advertising gay marriage is wrong, a poll found yesterday.

Six out of 10 think that it is ‘disproportionately heavy-handed’ to drag a bakery company to court because its Christian owners declined an order for the cake with a message.

Those who deplore the state-backed legal action against the bakers outnumber supporters by more than four to one, it said.

Most people also believe David Cameron was wrong to assure Parliament that his gay marriage laws would not ‘cause discrimination’ against dissidents who do not believe two people of the same sex should be able to marry.

The warning to the Prime Minister that equality laws are beginning to offend large numbers of people follows the outbreak earlier this month of the gay marriage cake scandal.

The Belfast-based Ashers Baking Company refused an order placed by a gay rights group for a decorated cake bearing the slogan ‘support gay marriage’.

The cake was also to have had pictures of two characters from Sesame Street, the name of the group, Queerspace, and the year it was founded, 1998.

The order from an activist, Gareth Lee, was accepted by shop staff.

However, the owners of the family-run company, Colin and Karen McArthur, and their son Daniel, who is manager, decided the message on the cake was contrary to their beliefs.

Mrs McArthur phoned Mr Lee to tell him the firm would not bake the cake, and to offer a refund.

Shortly afterwards the Northern Ireland branch of the state equality watchdog, the Equality Commission, wrote to the owners saying they had broken the law by discriminating on grounds of sexual orientation and that legal proceedings were to start within a week.

The threat provoked widespread anger because the bakery company did not refuse to serve a gay customer, the behaviour which the sexual orientation regulations, passed by Tony Blair’s government in 2006, were supposedly designed to stop.

Instead the company is being dragged to court because it declined to bake a cake intended to advertise a political message which ran against the religious beliefs of the owners.

Mr Cameron has signalled his support for the legal action, telling MPs that he has a commitment to equality and that ‘tolerance of and equality for people with different sexualities is a very important part of being British.’

However, the Prime Minister appears to be far out of line with majority opinion, according to the poll conducted by ComRes.

It said that 60 per cent believe the equality quango’s legal threat is disproportionate and heavy-handed, while just 14 per cent disagree. Just over a quarter, 26 per cent, didn’t know.

More than half those polled, 56 per cent, said businesses that decline to supply goods and services designed to promote gay marriage should not be at risk of legal action, together with high costs and compensation bills. Just 21 per cent thought that failing to fulfil an order for same sex marriage propaganda should be punished in the courts.

Another majority, 54 per cent, said the Prime Minister was wrong to assure Parliament that gay marriage ‘would not cause discrimination against those who believe it wrong.’ Fewer than one in five, 19 per cent, backed Mr Cameron.

The strong response suggests that the gay marriage cake affair has left the Prime Minister exposed to the charge that his same sex marriage laws have left opponents exposed to persecution.

The poll found 45 per cent think Christian businesses are being singled out for legal attack by gay activists, while 25 per cent disagreed. Some 55 per cent think the law should protect people from the compulsion to produced goods or services that violate their conscience, with 22 per cent against.

Only 30 per cent think enforcement of equality laws should always take priority over individual conscience, and 41 per cent say there should be legal room for conscience.

One senior judge, Supreme Court Deputy President Lady Hale, has said she believes there should be a ‘conscience clause’ in the law for Christians.

A think tank, the Christian Institute, is trying to raise the £30,000 required to mount a legal defence of Ashers.

Lawyers estimate the company faces a fine of £5,000, as well as legal costs if it loses in court.

Christian Institute director Colin Hart said: ‘These poll findings demonstrate huge public support for the Ashers bakery and they also demonstrate that David Cameron and the Equality Commission are completely out of touch with public opinion.

‘Gay marriage was introduced on the grounds of promoting equality. But this and other cases demonstrate that all it is doing is promoting divisions between people and fanning intolerance.

‘The Prime Minister assured the public that his gay marriage laws would not punish people who believe in the traditional definition of marriage as a union between a man and a woman. As we warned, these assurances are proving worthless. Innocent people are being bullied for attempting to live by their Christian conscience.’

Mr Hart added: ‘Mr Cameron should follow the advice of Baroness Hale and introduce a conscience clause to the law to ensure that families like the McArthurs can safely conduct their lives and business unmolested by meddlesome equality police.’

The ComRes poll was taken among 2,007 people on 16 and 17 July.
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Duck Dynasty’s Missy: We Were Virgins Until Marriage – No Baggage, No Diseases, and God Recommended It

 Duck Dynasty’s Missy Robertson said she “definitely recommends” chastity before marriage and added that she and her husband, Jase Robertson, maintained their virginity until their wedding night and, in this way, they “have no baggage, we have no diseases,” and “God recommended” such self-discipline for couples “many, many moons ago.”

Missy Robertson also said the highly popular Duck Dynasty television program was an opportunity that God provided to the Robertson family to spread a pro-family, pro-Christian message – “a way for us to get that message out” – stressing that the family hopes “to appeal to people, so they can want to learn more about this Jesus, who is this character, and why our family works, why are we not broken apart?”

At a Capitol Hill event to raise awareness about children born with cleft palates and lips – a condition the Robertson’s daughter, Mia, was born with –, in an exclusive interview,  asked Missy Robertson, “In your husband’s book, Good Call,  he talks about your courtship and how the both of you maintained your virginity before you were married. And I wanted to know if you would recommend that for all young couples and, if so, what specific advice or counsel could you give to young folks today who are considering getting married and are trying to stay chaste before marriage?”

Missy Robertson said, “Well, I would definitely recommend it, although it’s not easy. It was very difficult. We dated for almost three years. But, you know, God had this plan before we were ever born. So, if you trust God with all your heart, soul, and mind, He’s not going to do you wrong. And so, we tried. We’re not perfect, and we tried very hard to do that, and that’s one thing we did accomplish and we waited until our wedding night. “

“We have no memories of anyone else, in our past; we have no baggage; we have no diseases that we have to take care of,” she said.  “So, yes, I would definitely recommend it. God recommended it many, many, many moons ago. It just works out that way.”

Missy Robertson continued, “Jase said, his buddies would make fun of him, when we were dating, they’d say, ‘How are you going to know what to do?’ He says now, ‘Look, I’ve got three kids, I figured it out.’  So, it’s not rocket science.”

“Would I recommend it, yes,” she said.  “I recommend it to my own children, and, so far, they have also. It’s a big goal but it’s very attainable.”

Asked whether maintaining virginity during her courtship strengthened their marriage, Missy Robertson said, “Oh, no doubt about it, no doubt, definitely. We built it on a spiritual foundation and we’ve both been married for 23, almost 24 years. So, I wouldn’t regret any of it.”

Jase Robertson is the second oldest son of Duck Dynasty patriarch Phil Robertson and the author of Good Call: Reflections on Faith, Family, and Fowl.  He and his wife, Missy, have three children: Reed, Cole and Mia.  The 10-year-old Mia has undergone several corrective surgeries for her cleft palate and lip, and her parents launched the Mia Moo Fund this year to raise awareness and funds to help advance  medical research for the condition.

Duck Dynasty is in its sixth season and reportedly is viewed by an average 10.5 million viewers per episode.  At the end of each show, the family gathers at the dinner table and says a prayer of thanksgiving to God.


The MYTH of the glass ceiling: Think women get a raw deal at work? In this ferocious blast, a pioneering woman boss - who eats sexist pigs for breakfast - says it's time we stopped whining

The distinguished author below, Dame Stephanie Shirley, is a hard-driving Jewish lady who fails to take account of the fact that very few women would have her drive.  Her point however remains valid:  Even in the old days it was a lack of ambition to succeed in a male world that held women back.  So the present practice of handing jobs on a platter to women who may or may not be good at those jobs is a stupid and destructive form of bigotry

Early one afternoon on a quiet stretch of road in Oswestry in Shropshire, a 16-year-old schoolgirl walks briskly along, making the journey from a day’s lessons at the local girls’ school to the boys’ grammar a quarter of a mile away.

She’s dreading the moment she’ll take her seat to the jeers and caterwauls of her 30 male classmates.

Maths may be her best subject, but her school thinks it unfeminine, so she has won special dispensation to study it at a boys’ school — and will withstand no end of daily abuse for the privilege.

However far removed this scene may seem from the modern world, it is one that happened within living memory — my own.

That determined girl was me, less than  65 years ago. And recalling those uncomplaining first steps on my long slog to the top of the career ladder makes me despair at the grumbles of modern women.

We’ve all heard the bleatings: sexist working environments, long hours and the tough ride to the top they say they have to endure.

The complaints seem to grow louder every year. I read last week about a furious former City personal assistant who has written her memoirs, determined to settle scores with the sexist bosses she claims wronged her — criticising her work and keeping her in the office until 6.45pm, no less.

Quite frankly, these women have nothing to complain about. They really have never had it so easy. If only she and other aggrieved women like her knew what I had to put up with just a generation before, they might moan less and, instead, focus on the giddy heights now firmly within their grasp.

As an 80-year-old business leader, I have spent the past 50 years fighting sexist, out-dated attitudes towards women in male-dominated industries.

Those first maths lessons taught me much more than just arithmetic.  They were an invaluable schooling in the inherent sexism I was to meet head-on throughout my working life — which I refused to be cowed by.

After studying advanced mathematics at London’s Sir John Cass College and computer logic at Birkbeck College, I embarked on a career in computer programming and became inured to working in male-only environments. I’ve hit the glass ceiling so many times that I joke my head is now flat.

But it was the glass ceiling that broke — not me. And, believe me, women today would baulk at some of the blatant, institutionalised sexism that not only existed, but was actively encouraged back then.

Rather than allow myself to be patronised or overlooked, in 1962 I launched my own  IT services company,  Xansa, which, when it peaked  in the Eighties, meant I was  worth £150 million.  I achieved this with a £6 bank loan and a very thick skin.

My aim was to employ women, letting them work from home and manage their own workloads. To empower them, long before such corporate buzzwords were ever voiced.

This was at a time when fewer than nine million women worked (today that number is well over 13  million), and those who did manage to win themselves a role other than wife, mother or cleaner were paid far less than men, prevented from holding positions of power and even from opening a bank account without their husband’s written permission.

When I think of what I could have achieved today, it makes me long to be young again, and all the more frustrated at modern women counting their grievances, rather than their blessings.

What holds back any other woman from trying to emulate — or outdo — me?

The law is clear: The 1970 Equal Pay Act and 2010 Equality Act enshrined our rights to any job we set our minds to — from bus driver to stock broker and now even bishop — safe in the knowledge that maternity leave and childcare benefits will help us along.

Girls are outperforming boys from primary school to medical school, powering into top law positions and FTSE 100 companies.

Even in industries such as IT, where there is some distance to go, we are moving in the right direction. Indeed, we seem to have swung so far the other way that the European Commission is now threatening to force boards and businesses to comply with quotas for female employment or face penalties.

Quotas have already been imposed in Belgium, Iceland, Italy, the Netherlands and Spain — and, quite frankly, it’s a tragedy.  There should be no place for such positive discrimination in professional life.

As a firm believer in equality, and no matter how tough the climb, I want to be promoted on my performance — and that alone — and evaluated in the same way as everyone else.

It’s because of all this nonsense that reverse sexism is creeping into certain corners of industry and business where women are being hired simply because they are female.

There’s pressure to get women on the payroll and recruiters want to tick boxes.

Take the recent Cabinet reshuffle, where David Cameron appeared to be going out of his way to push up female numbers.

From three female Cabinet members, we now have six. Fine, so long as it is for the right reasons.

It’s all very well to enjoy chivalry, but if you really want to be accepted as an equal in the workplace, you need to work hard and not expect special treatment. No one became a CEO in my day for working a three-day week and leaving at 5pm.

I confess I employed reverse sexism myself when I set up Xansa. I hired only women for 13 years. It was a decision borne of desperation and frustration — it was the only way to show what working women could achieve in a culture when they were viewed  as plankton.

Now the world recognises both our right and our ability to succeed, women should never be there to just make up the numbers — whether that’s in the recently reshuffled Tory Cabinet or any other corner of industry.

There’s no doubt the only thing holding many women back is themselves. I remember interviewing a shortlist of candidates for a new finance director position at Xansa on a hot summer’s day, years ago.

Several women were in the running, and as each of them arrived, one after another, I almost choked: each was in a little dress revealing their legs or dĂ©colletage.  How could I have them representing me looking like that?

How you dress sends out a strong message. People judge on appearance and dressing seriously means being taken seriously. Thigh flashing is an obvious no-no.

Nor, now maternity leave and the right to ask for flexible working hours are a given, should work be a place to bring family problems (rather than being unheard of, as they were when I gave birth to my only son, Giles, in 1963).

My upbringing undoubtedly played an enormous part in shaping my beliefs. I arrived in Britain as a five-year-old Jewish refugee on one of the last Kindertransport trains from Germany at the start of World War II, after waving goodbye to my parents.

Placed with foster parents in the West Midlands who answered a local newspaper advert asking if anyone would put up ‘two sisters, brought up in a nice family’, I quickly learned that to survive I had to deal with change.

Picked up from one family and one language and parachuted into another, there was little choice. I was determined to make mine a life worth saving, which gave me all the drive I needed to fight my way to the top.

I learned right from my first job to adapt to one rule for men and another for women.

In 1951, I started working for the scientific civil service, where we were paid by age and gender. I got £4 a week, while a man of the same age doing the same job would get £5 — 25 per cent more.

Of course, I was livid. Often I had to carry heavy computer equipment along a corridor and men would offer to help. I would bat tetchily back, ‘I believe in equal pay and I will carry my own equipment,’ before struggling off.

Throughout my 20s I got used to the idea that the more I became recognised as a serious young woman who was aiming high, the more violently I was resented and more implacably I was kept in my place by men in senior positions.

Probably the sagest advice from one colleague early on was ‘never forget you are an honorary male’ — by which he meant don’t rest on your laurels because you’ll never truly be ‘one of us’.

That never rang truer than in 1963, the year after I started up Xansa. I was sending out business development letters but getting no response. It was demoralising and I knew they were just being thrown into the wastepaper bin.

My husband, Derek suggested it might be because of my very feminine name: Stephanie Shirley. On his suggestion I began signing my name Steve, a family nickname, to see what happened. It worked.

The replies and invitations to meet began to arrive. There was always the frisson of excitement when I arrived into a crowded meeting room full of suits and the men realised I was not one of them. But by then, I was through the door.

Considering myself one of the boys didn’t stop men in senior positions putting their arms around me and pinching my bottom. But I developed a thick skin and sharp tongue and learned to deal with it. I certainly didn’t run crying to the loos or the nearest solicitor, threatening to sue.

Young women now in the City complain they find some male environments oppressive and difficult. They are quick to fight loudly against it or throw in the towel. Sometimes, all that’s required is the backbone to cut men down to size. We are more than capable of speaking up for ourselves — I’ve spent a lifetime doing it.

Conditions have never been more in our favour, yet where men dive in head first, women are hesitant.

Official data shows female membership of FTSE 100 boards is on course to hit the Government target of 25 per cent by next year.

Frankly, with the education and employment prospects of today, it’s a disgrace that women don’t achieve 51 per cent — our share of the population.  We’ve never had it so good. It’s time we stopped whinging and got on with it.



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, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and  DISSECTING LEFTISM.   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here


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