Ending Single-Sex Colleges in Israel Would Strangle the Integration of the Ultra-Orthodox

A group of Israeli professors has petitioned the country’s Supreme Court to end government funding for single-sex colleges catering to ḥaredi students. Meanwhile, ultra-Orthodox parties have put forth legislation to protect these colleges. Thanks in no small part to such institutions, there has been a steep rise in the number of ḥaredi men and women in Israel obtaining secular higher education and joining the workforce, a trend that brings significant benefits to both the ḥaredi community and Israeli society as a whole. David M. Weinberg writes:

Over the past seven years, the Israeli government wisely has invested hundreds of millions of dollars in higher-education opportunities for ḥaredi men and women—and this is working. The number of ḥaredi students in college has jumped by more than 80 percent over this period, to 11,000 each year. And the number of ḥaredi men in the workforce has risen from 40 to 50 percent over the past decade. . . . In parallel, there seems to be an increasing majority sentiment within Israeli ḥaredi society that embraces higher education and superior employment. Surveys suggest that more than 80 percent of ḥaredi parents want their high schools to teach secular subjects alongside religious ones. . . .

It is indisputable that the overwhelming majority of Ḥaredim will not go to study in mixed-sex classrooms and mixed-sex campuses. That is too far a stretch for the very conservative and still quite insular ḥaredi society, which has a hard enough time engaging in secular studies in the first place. Thus, the militant axing of separate-sex programs would lead to the exclusion of most ḥaredi men and women from institutions of higher studies. This would kill the slow but measurable and exciting movement of Ḥaredim into the workforce that is crucial for Israel’s economy and society. . . .

I strongly suspect that the aggressive opposition to single-sex study programs for ḥaredi students stems from a deeper, darker, illiberal place. The professors and journalists behind this are, I think, frightened by the prospect of ḥaredi integration into Israeli life and the economy. Of course, this is what they have demanded for decades—that the ḥaredi community get educated and go to work (and serve in the military)—but now that it is beginning to happen, they have changed their minds.

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Read more at Israel Hayom

More about: Israel & Zionism, Israeli society, Israeli Supreme Court, Ultra-Orthodox

Maintaining Security Cooperation with the PA Shouldn’t Require Ignoring Its Support for Terror

In accordance with legislation passed last year, the Israeli government has begun to deduct from the tax revenues it collects on behalf of the Palestinian Authority (PA) an amount proportional to what the PA pays to terrorists and their families. Last year, a similar law went into effect in the U.S., suspending all payments to the PA so long as it continues its “pay-for-slay” policy. The PA president, Mahmoud Abbas, has retaliated by refusing to accept any tax revenue collected by Israel—raising concerns that the PA will become insolvent and collapse—while insisting that payments to terrorists and their families are sacrosanct. To Yossi Kuperwasser, Abbas’s behavior amounts to mere extortion—which has already worked on the Europeans to the tune of 35 million euros. He urges Israel and the U.S. not to submit:

Abbas [believes] that influential Israeli and European circles, including the security establishment, view strengthening the Palestinian Authority, and certainly preventing its collapse, as being in Israel and Europe’s best interests. They will therefore give in to the pressure he exerts through the creation of an artificial economic crisis. . . .

[T]he PA leadership’s insistence on continuing wage payments to terrorists and their families, even at the price of an artificial economic crisis, shows once again that . . . the Oslo Accords did not reflect a substantive change in Palestinian national aspirations or in the methods employed to achieve them. . . . If paying wages to terrorists (including the many terrorists whose attacks took place after the Oslo Accords were in force) is the raison d’être for the PA’s establishment, as Abbas seems to be saying, . . . one cannot help asking whether Israel has to insist on maintaining the PA’s existence at any price.

True, Israel cooperates on security issues with the PA, but that serves the interests of both sides. . . . The short-term benefits Israel gains from this security cooperation, [however], are of less value than the benefits enjoyed by the Palestinians, and worth even less when measured against the long-term strategic damage resulting from Israel’s resigning itself to the constant incitement, the promotion of terror, and the political struggle against Israel carried out by the PA. Israel should not do anything to hasten the PA’s breakdown, because it has no desire to rule over the Palestinians and run their day to day lives, but it also should not feel more obligated to the PA’s continued existence than do the Palestinians themselves, thereby leaving itself open to continuous extortion.

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Read more at Israel Institute for Strategic Studies

More about: Israeli Security, Mahmoud Abbas, Palestinian Authority, Palestinian terror