Why Jews Should Support Indirect State Funding for Private Schools

Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court heard the case of Espinoza v. Montana, challenging a ruling by the Montana Supreme Court that overturned a 2015 law providing tax credits to those who donate money to private schools. At issue is the state’s “Blaine Amendment,” which strictly forbids government support for religious education. Such amendments, present in many state constitutions, were an outgrowth of 19th-century anti-Catholic bigotry, but since the 20th century have been widely supported by Jews. Jonathan Tobin argues that it’s time to reconsider:

[T]hanks to other Supreme Court rulings, efforts to force Jewish children to recite Christian prayers in school are . . . a distant memory. But the fears of the past are still motivating many Jews to adopt a mindset that sees private religious schools—whether Jewish, Catholic or evangelical—as a threat to public education or church-state separation. Extreme separationism, such as the effort to oppose even the indirect aid that tuition tax credits give to faith-based schools, ignores the plight of poor students [who] are . . . trapped in failing public schools because their parents don’t have the money to send them to private or religious schools.

It also fails to take into account the interests of society in supporting educational institutions that help religious minorities thrive, such as Jewish day schools. Yet outside Agudath Israel, which represents the interests of ultra-Orthodox Jews, Jewish groups aren’t rallying to support [the plaintiff in this case], or efforts to preserve and expand laws in other states that have helped both Jewish and non-Jewish families afford private education costs.

Prejudice against private and religious education hurts children while doing nothing to preserve anyone’s constitutional rights.

Read more at JNS

More about: American law, church and state, Education, Supreme Court

Spain’s Anti-Israel Agenda

What interest does Madrid have in the creation of a Palestinian state? Elliott Abrams raised this question a few days ago, when discussing ongoing Spanish efforts to block the transfer of arms to Israel. He points to multiple opinion surveys suggesting that Spain is among Europe’s most anti-Semitic countries:

The point of including that information here is to explain the obvious: Spain’s anti-Israel extremism is not based in fancy international political analyses, but instead reflects both the extreme views of hard-left parties in the governing coalition and a very traditional Spanish anti-Semitism. Spain’s government lacks the moral standing to lecture the state of Israel on how to defend itself against terrorist murderers. Its effort to deprive Israel of the means of defense is deeply immoral. Every effort should be made to prevent these views from further infecting the politics and foreign policy of the European Union and its member states.

Read more at Pressure Points

More about: Anti-Semitism, Europe and Israel, Palestinian statehood, Spain