State Senators Join the “New York Times” in Legally Incoherent Accusations against Yeshiva University

At present, Yeshiva University is locked in a legal battle over its decision to deny official status and funding to an LGBTQ student group. The Manhattan-based Orthodox Jewish institution claims that a New York state court’s ruling against it violates its religious freedom. Last week, a group of state senators—apparently goaded by two articles in the New York Times—asked the New York inspector-general to investigate whether YU, which claims in the litigation to be a “religious corporation,” inappropriately received public monies. Michael A. Helfand finds the complaint “a bit bizarre.”

Yeshiva University has undoubtedly argued repeatedly that it is a religious institution. But religious institutions are not precluded from seeking private financing through the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York (DASNY). In fact, any number of religious universities—the Jewish Theological Seminary, St. John’s University, and, as noted by the Times in its initial report, Fordham University and Siena College—have financed projects with DASNY backing. It seems strange, therefore, to pit Yeshiva University’s claim to being a religious institution as somehow in tension with participating in this sort of government-backed financing.

To be sure, as the senators’ letter makes clear, DASNY-financed projects cannot be used for “sectarian religious instruction,” “a place of religious worship,” or “in connection with any part of a program of a school or department of divinity for any religious denomination.” But nothing in the state senators’ letter explains why they think Yeshiva University violated these terms. Yeshiva University’s statements in the course of litigation regarding DASNY financing have simply affirmed that it complied with the restrictions on prohibited religious uses.

[O]ne certainly hopes that what government officials would not do is initiate an investigation into the purported misappropriation of funds because they separately disagree with an institution’s policy as it relates to the LGBTQ community. Investigations such as these are supposed to be about maintaining integrity. The exercise of power to intimidate would serve to do the exact opposite.

Read more at Forward

More about: Freedom of Religion, Homosexuality, New York, Yeshiva University


Universities Are in Thrall to a Constituency That Sees Israel as an Affront to Its Identity

Commenting on the hearings of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce on Tuesday about anti-Semitism on college campuses, and the dismaying testimony of three university presidents, Jonah Goldberg writes:

If some retrograde poltroon called for lynching black people or, heck, if they simply used the wrong adjective to describe black people, the all-seeing panopticon would spot it and deploy whatever resources were required to deal with the problem. If the spark of intolerance flickered even for a moment and offended the transgendered, the Muslim, the neurodivergent, or whomever, the fire-suppression systems would rain down the retardant foams of justice and enlightenment. But calls for liquidating the Jews? Those reside outside the sensory spectrum of the system.

It’s ironic that the term colorblind is “problematic” for these institutions such that the monitoring systems will spot any hint of it, in or out of the classroom (or admissions!). But actual intolerance for Jews is lathered with a kind of stealth paint that renders the same systems Jew-blind.

I can understand the predicament. The receptors on the Islamophobia sensors have been set to 11 for so long, a constituency has built up around it. This constituency—which is multi-ethnic, non-denominational, and well entrenched among students, administrators, and faculty alike—sees Israel and the non-Israeli Jews who tolerate its existence as an affront to their worldview and Muslim “identity.” . . . Blaming the Jews for all manner of evils, including the shortcomings of the people who scapegoat Jews, is protected because, at minimum, it’s a “personal truth,” and for some just the plain truth. But taking offense at such things is evidence of a mulish inability to understand the “context.”

Shocking as all that is, Goldberg goes on to argue, the anti-Semitism is merely a “symptom” of the insidious ideology that has taken over much of the universities as well as an important segment of the hard left. And Jews make the easiest targets.

Read more at Dispatch

More about: Anti-Semitism, Israel on campus, University