New York State’s Hypocrisy over Orthodox Schools

With new regulations almost certainly aimed at hasidic schools, the New York State Education Department—which has for years been trying to interfere with hasidic education—is curbing foreign-language instruction at non-public schools. Aaron Twerski writes:

The state government permits New York public schools to teach classes in languages other than English and actively encourages dual-language learning. Some public schools even offer a 90-percent-to-10-percent model, in which a greater percentage of the instruction is in a foreign language. For parochial schools, however, an English-only rule now applies. The state’s new private-school regulations refuse to consider or credit yeshiva classes taught in any language other than English. The new regulations provide that a substantial-equivalency determination will turn, in part, on whether “English is the language of instruction for common branch subjects.” Non-public schools will not be permitted to maintain split-language programming, in which students receive non-English instruction in such subjects.

As an educator, I can tell you that this is bad policy. As a parent who chose yeshiva education for my children, I can tell you that it is a heavy-handed bureaucratic overreach. And as a law professor, I can tell you that it is unconstitutional.

Don’t take my word for it. Read what a unanimous Supreme Court ruled nearly a century ago in Pierce v. Society of Sisters: “A child is not the mere creature of the State; those who nurture him and direct his destiny have the right, coupled with the high duty, to recognize and prepare him for additional obligations.”

Read more at City Journal

More about: Freedom of Religion, Hasidim, Jewish education, New York

Recognizing a Palestinian State Won’t Help Palestinians, or Even Make Palestinian Statehood More Likely

While Shira Efron and Michael Koplow are more sanguine about the possibility of a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict, and more critical of Israel’s policies in the West Bank, than I am, I found much worth considering in their recent article on the condition of the Palestinian Authority (PA). Particularly perceptive are their comments on the drive to grant diplomatic recognition to a fictive Palestinian state, a step taken by nine countries in the past few months, and almost as many in total as recognize Israel.

Efron and Koplow argue that this move isn’t a mere empty gesture, but one that would actually make things worse, while providing “no tangible benefits for Palestinians.”

In areas under its direct control—Areas A and B of the West Bank, comprising 40 percent of the territory—the PA struggles severely to provide services, livelihoods, and dignity to inhabitants. This is only partly due to its budgetary woes; it has also never established a properly functioning West Bank economy. President Mahmoud Abbas, who will turn ninety next year, administers the PA almost exclusively by executive decrees, with little transparency or oversight. Security is a particular problem, as militants from different factions now openly defy the underfunded and undermotivated PA security forces in cities such as Jenin, Nablus, and Tulkarm.

Turning the Palestinian Authority (PA) from a transitional authority into a permanent state with the stroke of a pen will not make [its] litany of problems go away. The risk that the state of Palestine would become a failed state is very real given the PA’s dysfunctional, insolvent status and its dearth of public legitimacy. Further declines in its ability to provide social services and maintain law and order could yield a situation in which warlords and gangs become de-facto rulers in some areas of the West Bank.

Otherwise, any steps toward realizing two states will be fanciful, built atop a crumbling foundation—and likely to help turn the West Bank into a third front in the current war.

Read more at Foreign Affairs

More about: Palestinian Authority, Palestinian statehood