The British Government Attacks an Ultra-Orthodox Girls’ School for Its Standards of Modesty

Last week, inspectors from Britain’s Office for Standards in Education (“Ofsted”) released a highly critical report about the quality of education at Yesodey Hatorah, an Orthodox girls’ school in London. Some of the criticisms were strictly academic: teachers had removed test questions about evolution from exams and for reasons of modesty had blacked out most of the pictures in books about art. But other complaints, writes Sohrab Ahmari, were of a different nature:

Yesodey Hatorah was also deemed [lacking] by the standards of British secular progressivism and the sexual revolution. The curriculum de-emphasized global warming. Students didn’t learn much by way of sex education and especially about homosexuality, which, according to an earlier report, deprived them of “a full understanding of fundamental British values” and limited their “spiritual, moral, social, and cultural development and [did] not promote equality of opportunity in ways that take account of differing lifestyles.” Finally, Ofsted rapped the school’s knuckles for failing to expose the girls to [members of] the opposite sex.

A reporter who spoke with students about their meetings with Ofsted inspectors noted that the latter had a “fixed agenda” that included “talking to the girls about sex.” One student stated that the interviews with inspectors “felt like an attack . . . because under no circumstances did we want to discuss things that we were brought up our entire lives not to discuss.” Ahmari comments:

The attack on Yesodey Hatorah is part of a larger campaign against religious education in the UK. Faithful Jews, Catholics, and Muslims are all targets. . . . The senior government adviser Louise Casey [told] the House of Commons: “It is not OK for Catholic schools to be . . . anti-gay marriage. I have a problem with the expression of religious conservatism because I think often it can be anti-equalities.” If and when totalitarianism arrives in the West, it will carry the grammatically appalling banner of “equalities.”

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More about: British Jewry, Freedom of Religion, Religion & Holidays, Sexual ethics, Ultra-Orthodox, United Kingdom

Russia Has No Interest in Curbing Iran in Syria—Despite Putin’s Assurances

July 20 2018

In his joint press conference on Monday with Vladimir Putin, Donald Trump stated that in their meeting he had brought up U.S. concerns about the Islamic Republic’s malign influence in the Middle East, and that he’d “made clear [to Putin] that the United States will not allow Iran to benefit from [America’s] successful campaign against Islamic State.” It does not appear, however, that any concrete agreements were reached. To Alexandra Gutowski and Caleb Weiss, it’s clear that agreements will do little, since Putin can’t be trusted to keep his word:

In late June, Russia began to unleash hundreds of airstrikes on [the southwestern Syrian province of] Deraa, in flagrant violation of the U.S.-Russian cease-fire agreement that Trump and Putin personally endorsed last November. While Russia struck from the air, forces nominally under the control of Damascus conducted a major ground offensive.

Closer examination shows that the dividing line between Assad’s military and Iranian-aligned forces has become ever blurrier. Before the offensive began, Lebanese Hizballah and other Iranian-backed militias staged apparent withdrawals from the region, only to return after donning [Assad]-regime uniforms and hiding their banners and insignia. Tehran is also directly involved. On July 2, a senior commander of Iran’s elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) died in Deir al-Adas, a village in northern Deraa province along the strategic M5 highway. Persian sources describe him as the commander for the province. [In fact], forces nominally under the control of Damascus are permeated with troops that are at least as close to Tehran. . . .

It’s also becoming clear that Russian aircraft are supporting the efforts of Iranian-backed units nominally under the control of Damascus. . . . Russia has also now deployed military police to hold terrain captured by Iranian-aligned forces, demonstrating a level of coordination as well as Russia’s unwillingness to use its forces for more dangerous offensive operations. These terrain-holding forces free up Iran-aligned actors to continue undertaking offensives toward the Golan.

Reported meetings between militia commanders and Russian officers suggest these operations are coordinated. But even without formal coordination, Russian air cover and Iranian ground offensives are mutually dependent and reinforcing. Iran can’t be in the sky, and Russia refuses to put significant forces on the ground, lest too many return home in body bags. Thus, Putin requires Iran’s forces on the ground to secure his ambitions in Syria.

President Trump should remain highly skeptical of Putin’s interest in serving as a partner in Syria and his ability to do so. The humanitarian relief Putin proposes [for postwar reconstruction] is designed to fortify the regime, not to rehabilitate children brutalized by Assad. Putin also has limited interest in curtailing Iran’s deployment. Russia itself admits that Iran’s withdrawal is “absolutely unrealistic.” Trump should not concede American positions, notably the strategic base at Tanf which blocks Iran’s path to the Mediterranean, for empty promises from Russia. Putin can afford to lie to America, but he can’t afford to control Syria without Iranian support.

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More about: Donald Trump, Iran, Politics & Current Affairs, Syrian civil war, U.S. Foreign policy, Vladimir Putin