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

Zionists Can, and Do, Criticize Israel. Are Anti-Zionists Capable of Criticizing Anti-Semitism?

Dec. 12 2018

Last week, the New York Times columnist Michelle Goldberg defended the newly elected anti-Israel congresswomen Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar, ostensibly arguing that anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism aren’t identical. Abe Greenwald comments:

Tlaib . . . has tweeted and retweeted her enthusiasm for terrorists such as Rasmea Odeh, who murdered two American students in a Jerusalem supermarket in 1969. If Tlaib’s anti-Zionism is of the Jew-loving kind, she has a funny way of showing it.

Ilhan Omar, for her part, once tweeted, “Israel has hypnotized the world, may Allah awaken the people and help them see the evil doings of Israel.” And wouldn’t you know it, just because she believes that Zionist hypnotists have cast global spells masking Israeli evil, some people think she’s anti-Semitic! Go figure! . . .

Goldberg spends the bulk of her column trying very hard to uncouple American Jewishness from Israel. To do that, she enumerates Israel’s sins, as she sees them. . . . [But] her basic premise is at odds with reality. Zionists aren’t afraid of finding fault with Israel and don’t need to embrace anti-Zionism in order to [do so]. A poll conducted in October by the Jewish Electorate Institute found that a majority of Americans Jews have no problem both supporting Israel and criticizing it. And unlike Goldberg, they have no problem criticizing anti-Semitism, either.

Goldberg gives the game away entirely when she discusses the discomfort that liberal American Jews have felt in “defending multi-ethnic pluralism here, where they’re in the minority, while treating it as unspeakable in Israel, where Jews are the majority.” She adds: “American white nationalists, some of whom liken their project to Zionism, love to poke at this contradiction.” Read that again. She thinks the white nationalists have a point. Because, really, what anti-Semite doesn’t?

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More about: Anti-Semitism, Israel & Zionism, New York Times