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Swedish Secularism Targets Jewish Homeschoolers

Dec. 26 2017

Alexander and Leah Namdar have lived in the Swedish city of Gothenburg for 26 years, serving as emissaries of the Chabad-Lubavitch movement. Since there are no Jewish schools in Gothenburg, the Namdars have been homeschooling the youngest of their children. As a result, they have been involved in a six-year legal battle with the government in their efforts to be exempted from a 2010 law forbidding homeschooling, which states explicitly that exceptions will not be granted “on account of the religious or philosophical convictions of [a] family.” Sohrab Ahmari comments:

The public schools were religiously inadequate [for the Namdars] and, more importantly, physically unsafe for Jews, [given the pervasiveness of anti-Semitic attacks and harassment]. Private schools were no better. All schools, including “private” and religious schools, are government-funded in Sweden, and therefore required to accept all comers. For the Namdars, then, homeschooling was the only way to ensure their school-age children’s security and the Jewish character of their education. . . .

Throughout the [ensuing] litigation, the education board has never contested the quality of the Namdar children’s education. . . . Nor have municipal authorities been able to allay the family’s security concerns, which the Namdars argue fall under the special-circumstances exception to the anti-homeschooling rule. The city insists, however, that concerns about physical security and anti-Semitic violence don’t trigger the exception. . . . Officials have responded callously to [Rabbi Namdar’s] pleas, with one telling him last year: “Why don’t you leave the country?” . . .

The official zeal for rooting out religious homeschooling isn’t all that surprising when viewed against the backdrop of the country’s failure to integrate newcomers from Muslim lands. Swedes have good reason to worry about Islamist madrassas and other informal settings in which young Muslims are taught to hate the liberal society that has welcomed them. The city is going all out against the Namdars, I suspect, because it wants to make a show of applying the law uniformly and ruthlessly—as if to say: “See, we don’t permit the Jews to homeschool, either!”

But there is more to it than that. Nordic countries maintain narrow “opinion corridors” for acceptable ideas in the public square, and serious believers frequently find themselves locked out. Swedish authorities “don’t respect religion,” the rabbi told me. “They don’t understand that religion is part of your life. They see religion as a sort of hobby. And you either have a hobby, or you don’t.” Biblical religion is at best an amusing curiosity in this view and at worst a grave threat to secular order.

Read more at Commentary

More about: Anti-Semitism, European Islam, Freedom of Religion, Politics & Current Affairs, Secularism, Sweden

 

How the U.S. Can Strike at Iran without Risking War

In his testimony before Congress on Tuesday, Michael Doran urged the U.S. to pursue a policy of rolling back Iranian influence in the Middle East, and explained how this can be accomplished. (Video of the testimony, along with the full text, are available at the link below.)

The United States . . . has indirect ways of striking at Iran—ways that do not risk drawing the United States into a quagmire. The easiest of these is to support allies who are already in the fight. . . . In contrast to the United States, Israel is already engaged in military operations whose stated goal is to drive Iran from Syria. We should therefore ask ourselves what actions we might take to strengthen Israel’s hand. Militarily, these might include, on the passive end of the spectrum, positioning our forces so as to deter Russian counterattacks against Israel. On the [more active] end, they might include arming and training Syrian forces to engage in operations against Iran and its proxies—much as we armed the mujahedin in Afghanistan in the 1980s.

Diplomatically, the United States might associate itself much more directly with the red lines that Israel has announced regarding the Iranian presence in Syria. Israel has, for example, called for pushing Iran and its proxies away from its border on the Golan Heights. Who is prepared to say that Washington has done all in its power to demonstrate to Moscow that it fully supports this goal? In short, a policy of greater coordination with Jerusalem is both possible and desirable.

In Yemen, too, greater coordination with Saudi Arabia is worth pursuing. . . . In Lebanon and Iraq, conditions will not support a hard rollback policy. In these countries the goal should be to shift the policy away from a modus vivendi [with Iran] and in the direction of containment. In Iraq, the priority, of course, is the dismantling of the militia infrastructure that the Iranians have built. In Lebanon, [it should be] using sanctions to force the Lebanese banking sector to choose between doing business with Hizballah and Iran and doing business with the United States and its financial institutions. . . .

Iran will not take a coercive American policy sitting down. It will strike back—and it will do so cleverly. . . . It almost goes without saying that the United States should begin working with its allies now to develop contingency plans for countering the tactics [Tehran is likely to use]. I say “almost” because I know from experience in the White House that contingency planning is something we extol much more than we conduct. As obvious as these tactics [against us] are, they have often taken Western decision makers by surprise, and they have proved effective in wearing down Western resolve.

Read more at Hudson

More about: Iran, Israeli Security, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Syria, U.S. Foreign policy, Yemen