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

 

A University of Michigan Professor Exposes the Full Implications of Academic Boycotts of Israel

Sept. 26 2018

A few weeks ago, Professor John Cheney-Lippold of the University of Michigan told an undergraduate student he would write a letter of recommendation for her to participate in a study-abroad program. But upon examining her application more carefully and realizing that she wished to spend a semester in Israel, he sent her a polite email declining to follow through. His explanation: “many university departments have pledged an academic boycott against Israel in support of Palestinians living in Palestine,” and “for reasons of these politics” he would no longer write the letter. Jonathan Marks comments:

We are routinely told . . . that boycott actions against Israel are “limited to institutions and their official representatives.” But Cheney-Lippold reminds us that the boycott, even if read in this narrow way, obligates professors to refuse to assist their own students when those students seek to participate in study-abroad programs in Israel. Dan Avnon, an Israeli academic, learned years ago that the same goes for Israel faculty members seeking to participate in exchange programs sponsored by Israeli universities. They, too, must be turned away regardless of their position on the Israel-Palestinian conflict. . . .

Cheney-Lippold, like other boycott defenders, points to the supposed 2005 “call of Palestinian civil society” to justify his singling out of Israel. “I support,” he says in comments to the [Michigan] student newspaper, “communities who organize themselves and ask for international support to achieve equal rights [and] freedom and to prevent violations of international law.”

Set aside the absurdity of this reasoning (“Why am I not boycotting China on behalf of Tibet? Because China has been much more effective in stifling civil society!”). Focus instead on what Cheney-Lippold could have found out by using Google. The first endorser of the call of “civil society” is the Council of National and Islamic Forces in Palestine, which includes Hamas, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, and other groups that trade not only in violent “resistance” but in violence that directly targets noncombatants.

That’s remained par for the course for the boycott movement. In October 2015, in the midst of the series of stabbings deemed “the knife intifada,” the U.S. Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel shared a call for an international day of solidarity with the “new generation of Palestinians” who were then “rising up against Israel’s brutal, decades-old system of occupation.” To be sure, they did not directly endorse attacks on civilians, but they did issue their statement of solidarity with “Palestinian popular resistance” one day after four attacks that left three Israelis—all civilians—dead.

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More about: Academia, Academic Boycotts, BDS, Israel & Zionism, Knife intifada