Why British Jews, of All Stripes, Should Be Concerned about New Restrictions on Orthodox Education

An education bill currently before the British parliament would, inter alia, extend curriculum regulations that now only apply to elementary-school students to ḥaredi schools for children ages thirteen and older. At the same time, the British government is pressuring ḥaredi schools for younger children to teach about tolerance of homosexuals. Joe Mintz argues that even Jews who wish ḥaredi schools to offer more robust secular educations should be wary of the potential threat to religious freedom:

Surely this is a slam dunk, and every child in England must be educated to a “minimum” standard in mathematic and English and be prepared for life in “modern Britain”? . . . What happened to a commitment to religious freedom in the actions of the government in bringing this bill, or the mainstream Jewish community in condemning ḥaredi Jews for opposing it? Are we really that sure the public-interest arguments outweigh parental religious freedom?

I wonder if the antipathy towards the ḥaredi position by the [Anglo-]Jewish community is seriously misplaced. It seems to me to have unfortunate echoes of the concerns raised by the established community in the late 19th and early 20th century, when newly arrived Jews from Eastern Europe were looked down as being not just far too religious but also uncouth, uncultured, and far too likely to make non-Jews aware of how strange and esoteric, how un-English, Judaism and traditional Jewish life actually was.

We could also recognize that just because how the government sees fit to balance religious freedom and majority concerns on this issue suits the mainstream Jewish community, that might not always be the case. . . . If we think that on brit milah as well as a host of other potential issues the government could not one day decide that our religious freedom is trumped by other majority concerns, we delude ourselves. In reality, this should be our fight too.

Read more at Jewish Chronicle

More about: Anglo-Jewry, Freedom of Religion, United Kingdom

Hamas Has Its Own Day-After Plan

While Hamas’s leaders continue to reject the U.S.-backed ceasefire proposal, they have hardly been neglecting diplomacy. Ehud Yaari explains:

Over the past few weeks, Hamas leaders have been engaged in talks with other Palestinian factions and select Arab states to find a formula for postwar governance in the Gaza Strip. Held mainly in Qatar and Egypt, the negotiations have not matured into a clear plan so far, but some forms of cooperation are emerging on the ground in parts of the embattled enclave.

Hamas officials have informed their interlocutors that they are willing to support the formation of either a “technocratic government” or one composed of factions that agree to Palestinian “reconciliation.” They have also insisted that security issues not be part of this government’s authority. In other words, Hamas is happy to let others shoulder civil responsibilities while it focuses on rebuilding its armed networks behind the scenes.

Among the possibilities Hamas is investigating is integration into the Palestinian Authority (PA), the very body that many experts in Israel and in the U.S. believe should take over Gaza after the war ends. The PA president Mahmoud Abbas has so far resisted any such proposals, but some of his comrades in the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) are less certain:

On June 12, several ex-PLO and PA officials held an unprecedented meeting in Ramallah and signed an initiative calling for the inclusion of additional factions, meaning Hamas. The PA security services had blocked previous attempts to arrange such meetings in the West Bank. . . . Hamas has already convinced certain smaller PLO factions to get on board with its postwar model.

With generous help from Qatar, Hamas also started a campaign in March asking unaffiliated Palestinian activists from Arab countries and the diaspora to press for a collaborative Hamas role in postwar Gaza. Their main idea for promoting this plan is to convene a “Palestinian National Congress” with hundreds of delegates. Preparatory meetings have already been held in Britain, Lebanon, Kuwait, and Qatar, and more are planned for the United States, Spain, Belgium, Australia, and France.

If the U.S. and other Western countries are serious about wishing to see Hamas defeated, and all the more so if they have any hopes for peace, they will have to convey to all involved that any association with the terrorist group will trigger ostracization and sanctions. That Hamas doesn’t already appear toxic to these various interlocutors is itself a sign of a serious failure.

Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas, Palestinian Authority