Jews and the Crisis of American Education

July 16 2021

The current debates over whether critical race theory should play a role in primary and secondary education, along with those about whether to reopen schools in the fall, are perhaps symptoms of a larger crisis, which is also reflected in dispiriting test scores, widespread ignorance of the basics of history and civics, and the inability of high schools to prepare graduates for either careers or the university. Examining the problem as it applies to American Jews in particular, Dan Senor discusses a possible remedy:

For generations, [the civic education of potential leaders] served two purposes: to attach young people to their own history, giving them a sense of responsibility for their own heritage; and to provide young people with models of human achievement to learn from and emulate, as preparation for their future lives as statesmen, generals, religious leaders, or educators. Liberal education was a time machine, awakening a vivid sense of the past in preparation for the looming challenges and responsibilities of the future.

These days, education in many schools seems geared toward different ends: finding signs of oppression everywhere, debunking our heroes, and leveling the heights of human greatness. We are, too often, in the business of tearing down statues. In doing so, we are shrinking the moral and political imagination of the very young people—including young Jews—who might one day step forward to lead our nation and our community.

There are surely bright spots in a number of Jewish day schools. But will most young American Jews—both those in full-time Jewish day schools and especially those enrolled in public and secular [private] schools—ever really encounter the heroes of Jewish, Zionist, and American history? Are they invited to take human excellence—and Jewish excellence—seriously?

When Tikvah, a Jewish educational center in New York, announced a new program on “Great Speeches and Great Leaders,” I knew it answered an urgent need and genuine problem.

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Read more at Times of Israel

More about: American Jewry, Critical race theory, Education, Jewish education

Why Is Iran Acquiring Property in Venezuela?

In June Tehran and Caracas concluded a major twenty-year cooperation treaty. One of its many provisions—kept secret until recently—was the transfer of 4,000 square miles of Venezuelan land to Iranian control. Although the territory is ostensibly for agricultural use, Lawrence Franklin suspects the Islamic Republic might have other plans:

Hizballah already runs paramilitary training centers in restricted sections of Venezuela’s Margarita Island, a tourist area northeast of the country’s mainland. The terrorist group has considerable support from some of Venezuela’s prominent Lebanese clans such as the Nasr al-Din family, who reportedly facilitated Iran’s penetration of Margarita Island. . . . The Maduro regime has apparently been so welcoming to Iranian intelligence agents that some of Hizballah’s long-established Latin American network at the tri-border nexus of Brazil, Argentina, and Paraguay has been overtaken by Hizballah activities on Venezuela’s Margarita Island.

Iran’s alliance with Venezuela most importantly provides Tehran with opportunities to target U.S. interests in Latin America and potentially the southern United States. Iran, along with the Chinese Communist Party, is in the process of strengthening Venezuela’s military against the U.S., for instance by deliveries of military drones, which are also considered a threat by Colombia.

While air and seaborne arms deliveries are high-profile evidence of Iran’s ties with Venezuela, Tehran’s cooperation with Venezuelan intelligence agencies, although less visible, is also intense. The Islamic Republic’s support for Hizballah terrorist operations is pervasive throughout Latin America. Hizballah recruits from Venezuela’s ten-million-strong Lebanese diaspora. Iran and Hizballah cooperate in training of intelligence agents and in developing sources who reside in Venezuela and Colombia, as well as in the tri-border region of Brazil, Paraguay, and Argentina.

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Read more at Gatestone

More about: Iran, Latin America, Venezuela