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

Hamas’s Hostage Diplomacy

Ron Ben-Yishai explains Hamas’s current calculations:

Strategically speaking, Hamas is hoping to add more and more days to the pause currently in effect, setting a new reality in stone, one which will convince the United States to get Israel to end the war. At the same time, they still have most of the hostages hidden in every underground crevice they could find, and hope to exchange those with as many Hamas and Islamic Jihad prisoners currently in Israeli prisons, planning on “revitalizing” their terrorist inclinations to even the odds against the seemingly unstoppable Israeli war machine.

Chances are that if pressured to do so by Qatar and Egypt, they will release men over 60 with the same “three-for-one” deal they’ve had in place so far, but when Israeli soldiers are all they have left to exchange, they are unlikely to extend the arrangement, instead insisting that for every IDF soldier released, thousands of their people would be set free.

In one of his last speeches prior to October 7, the Gaza-based Hamas chief Yahya Sinwar said, “remember the number one, one, one, one.” While he did not elaborate, it is believed he meant he wants 1,111 Hamas terrorists held in Israel released for every Israeli soldier, and those words came out of his mouth before he could even believe he would be able to abduct Israelis in the hundreds. This added leverage is likely to get him to aim for the release for all prisoners from Israeli facilities, not just some or even most.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas, Israeli Security