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

Iran’s Program of Subversion and Propaganda in the Caucasus

In the past week, Iranian proxies and clients have attacked Israel from the West Bank, Gaza, Lebanon, and Yemen. Iran also has substantial military assets in Iraq and Syria—countries over which it exercises a great deal of control—which could launch significant attacks on Israel as well. Tehran, in addition, has stretched its influence northward into both Azerbaijan and Armenia. While Israel has diplomatic relations with both of these rival nations, its relationship with Baku is closer and involves significant military and security collaboration, some of which is directed against Iran. Alexander Grinberg writes:

Iran exploits ethnic and religious factors in both Armenia and Azerbaijan to further its interests. . . . In Armenia, Iran attempts to tarnish the legitimacy of the elected government and exploit the church’s nationalist position and tensions between it and the Armenian government; in Azerbaijan, the Iranian regime employs outright terrorist methods similar to its support for terrorist proxies in the Middle East [in order to] undermine the regime.

Huseyniyyun (Islamic Resistance Movement of Azerbaijan) is a terrorist militia made up of ethnic Azeris and designed to fight against Azerbaijan. It was established by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps . . . in the image of other pro-Iranian militias. . . . Currently, Huseyniyyun is not actively engaged in terrorist activities as Iran prefers more subtle methods of subversion. The organization serves as a mouthpiece of the Iranian regime on various Telegram channels in the Azeri language. The main impact of Huseyniyyun is that it helps spread Iranian propaganda in Azerbaijan.

The Iranian regime fears the end of hostilities between Armenia and Azerbaijan because this would limit its options for disruption. Iranian outlets are replete with anti-Semitic paranoia against Azerbaijan, accusing the country of awarding its territory to Zionists and NATO. . . . Likewise, it is noteworthy that Armenian nationalists reiterate hideous anti-Semitic tropes that are identical to those spouted by the Iranians and Palestinians. Moreover, leading Iranian analysts have no qualms about openly praising [sympathetic] Armenian clergy together with terrorist Iran-funded Azeri movements for working toward Iranian goals.

Read more at Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security

More about: Azerbaijan, Iran, Israeli Security