Haredi Jews in Britain Face Their Own Showdown with the Government over Schooling

Nov. 10 2022

As in both the U.S. and Israel, some Orthodox Jews in the UK worry that their schools will face governmental scrutiny for deviating from standard curricula. What is particular about the British case is that Ḥasidim are not only concerned about the introduction of secular studies, but also about sex-education requirements imposed by the Office of Standards in Education (Ofsted), the official body responsible for overseeing schools. Simon Rocker writes:

The government is looking to close a loophole whereby institutions such as yeshivot that teach an exclusive religious curriculum do not count as schools under the current legal definition and therefore escape Ofsted scrutiny. An estimated 1,500 strictly Orthodox teenagers of school age in Hackney—below the age of sixteen—are thought to be enrolled in yeshivot where they pursue purely Jewish studies.

If the Schools Bill [put before parliament, and likely to be tabled for the time being], were passed, yeshivot would be treated as independent schools and required to teach some secular subjects, as well as relationships and sex education, including LGBT awareness. Ofsted would get new powers to investigate unregistered institutions and home-schooled children would have to be registered with the local authority.

Defenders of the yeshivot argue that their educational system produces well-adjusted, law-abiding citizens, whose wits have been sharpened by years immersed in the classical education of Talmud; and that their youth can always take career-oriented training after they emerge from yeshivah. They will also point to efforts to improve secular tuition in strictly Orthodox primary schools in recent years (efforts, it has to be said, that have followed pressure from Ofsted). . . .

However, the demands of relationships and sex education remain a red line that only strengthens the resolve not to bow to the state. So far there has been no indication the government is willing to budge. As one senior education official in a council explained it to me, teaching about LGBT identity is a matter of safeguarding so that children who might experience feelings of difference might receive sympathetic treatment. Yet it could be argued that compelling ḥaredi schools to raise this in the classroom might not be the best way to support such children within those communities.

Read more at Jewish Chronicle

More about: Anglo-Jewry, Haredim, Hasidism, Jewish education


American Aid to Lebanon Is a Gift to Iran

For many years, Lebanon has been a de-facto satellite of Tehran, which exerts control via its local proxy militia, Hizballah. The problem with the U.S. policy toward the country, according to Tony Badran, is that it pretends this is not the case, and continues to support the government in Beirut as if it were a bulwark against, rather than a pawn of, the Islamic Republic:

So obsessed is the Biden administration with the dubious art of using taxpayer dollars to underwrite the Lebanese pseudo-state run by the terrorist group Hizballah that it has spent its two years in office coming up with legally questionable schemes to pay the salaries of the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF), setting new precedents in the abuse of U.S. foreign security-assistance programs. In January, the administration rolled out its program to provide direct salary payments, in cash, to both the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) and the Internal Security Forces (ISF).

The scale of U.S. financing of Lebanon’s Hizballah-dominated military apparatus cannot be understated: around 100,000 Lebanese are now getting cash stipends courtesy of the American taxpayer to spend in Hizballah-land. . . . This is hardly an accident. For U.S. policymakers, synergy between the LAF/ISF and Hizballah is baked into their policy, which is predicated on fostering and building up a common anti-Israel posture that joins Lebanon’s so-called “state institutions” with the country’s dominant terror group.

The implicit meaning of the U.S. bureaucratic mantra that U.S. assistance aims to “undermine Hizballah’s narrative that its weapons are necessary to defend Lebanon” is precisely that the LAF/ISF and the Lebanese terror group are jointly competing to achieve the same goals—namely, defending Lebanon from Israel.

Read more at Tablet

More about: Hizballah, Iran, Israeli Security, Lebanon, U.S. Foreign policy