Jews and the Crisis of American Education

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.

Read more at Times of Israel

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

Why Hizballah Is Threatening Cyprus

In a speech last Wednesday, Hizballah’s secretary general Hassan Nasrallah not only declared that “nowhere will be safe” in Israel in the event of an all-out war, but also that his forces would attack the island nation of Cyprus. Hanin Ghaddar, Farzin Nadimi, and David Schenker observe that this is no idle threat, but one the Iran-backed terrorist group has “a range of options” for carrying out. They explain: 

Nasrallah’s threat to Cyprus was not random—the republic has long maintained close ties with Israel, much to Hizballah’s irritation. In recent years, the island has hosted multiple joint air-defense drills and annual special-forces exercises with Israel focused on potential threats from Hizballah and Iran.

Nasrallah’s threat should also be viewed in the context of wartime statements by Iran and its proxies about disrupting vital shipping lanes to Israel through the East Mediterranean.

This scenario should be particularly troubling to Washington given the large allied military presence in Cyprus, which includes a few thousand British troops, more than a hundred U.S. Air Force personnel, and a detachment of U-2 surveillance aircraft from the 1st Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron.

Yoni Ben Menachem suggests there is an additional aspect to Nasrallah’s designs on Cyprus, involving a plan

to neutralize the Israeli air force through two primary actions: a surprise attack with precision missiles and UAVs on Israeli air-force bases and against radar and air-defense facilities, including paralyzing Ben-Gurion Airport.

Nasrallah’s goal is to ground Israeli aircraft to prevent them from conducting missions in Lebanon against mid- and long-range missile launchers. Nasrallah fears that Israel might preempt his planned attack by deploying its air force to Cypriot bases, a scenario the Israeli air force practiced with Cyprus during military exercises over the past year.

Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: Cyprus, Hizballah, U.S. Security