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

 

By Recognizing Israeli Sovereignty over the Golan, the U.S. Has Freed Israel from “Land for Peace”

March 25 2019

In the 52 years since Israel seized the Golan Heights from Syria, there have been multiple efforts to negotiate their return in exchange for Damascus ending its continuous war against the Jewish state. Shmuel Rosner argues that, with his announcement on Thursday acknowledging the legitimacy of Jerusalem’s claim to the Golan, Donald Trump has finally decoupled territorial concessions from peacemaking:

[With] the takeover of much of Syria by Iran and its proxies, . . . Israel had no choice but to give up on the idea of withdrawing from the Golan Heights. But this reality involves a complete overhaul of the way the international community thinks not just about the Golan Heights but also about all of the lands Israel occupied in 1967. . . .

Withdrawal worked for Israel once, in 1979, when it signed a peace agreement with Egypt and left the Sinai Peninsula, which had also been occupied in 1967. But that also set a problematic precedent. President Anwar Sadat of Egypt insisted that Israel hand back the entire peninsula to the last inch. Israel decided that the reward was worth the price, as a major Arab country agreed to break with other Arab states and accept Israel’s legitimacy.

But there was a hidden, unanticipated cost: Israel’s adversaries, in future negotiations, would demand the same kind of compensation. The 1967 line—what Israel controlled before the war—became the starting point for all Arab countries, including Syria. It became a sacred formula, worshiped by the international community.

What President Trump is doing extends far beyond the ability of Israel to control the Golan Heights, to settle it, and to invest in it. The American president is setting the clock back to before the peace deal with Egypt, to a time when Israel could argue that the reward for peace is peace—not land. Syria, of course, is unlikely to accept this. At least not in the short term. But maybe someday, a Syrian leader will come along who doesn’t entertain the thought that Israel might agree to return to the pre-1967 line and who will accept a different formula for achieving peace.

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More about: Donald Trump, Golan Heights, Israel & Zionis, Peace Process, Sinai Peninsula, Syria