Is Being Jewish Worth the Money?

A labor economist has written a new book subjecting Jewish identity to a formal cost-benefit analysis. Attempting to sort through the decisions made by American Jews about synagogue membership or whether to send their children to day school, she proceeds on the theory that such abstractions as community and religion are themselves “goods” (like toasters and televisions). She even applies the same measurement to make sense of the resurgence of Orthodoxy. Steven I. Weiss writes:

Carmel Chiswick shows how this view can alter the equation [faced by parents] when looking at the two major options for preparing a child for a Jewish life and a bar or bat mitzvah. Jewish day school is the full-time, dual-curriculum option available at Jewish private schools; by contrast, “Hebrew school” is the term used to describe a much more limited program of study, often on Sundays and a few weekdays as an after-school program at a local synagogue. Chiswick assumes that the several hours of extra time required to shuttle one’s child back and forth to Hebrew school instead of enrolling the child at a full-time day school can represent a time cost of $18,000 per year for a $200-an-hour lawyer. Suddenly, the combination of public school and Hebrew school rather than day school doesn’t seem like such a bargain.

Read more at Atlantic

More about: American Jewry, Economics, Jewish education

As Hamas’s Reign of Terror Endures, the International Community Remains Obsessed with Jews Living in the Wrong Places

On Thursday, foreign ministers of the G-7—the U.S., Canada, Japan, Britain, France, Germany, and Italy—along with the EU, made an official “statement on the situation in the West Bank,” an area where they are very concerned, it appears, that too many Jews are dwelling. In particular, the G-7 condemned Israel’s decision to grant municipal status to five ad-hoc villages built without proper permits. Elliott Abrams comments:

I can see “condemning” murder, terror, kidnapping, and “rejecting” that legalization. Indeed in the next sentence they “reject the decision by the government of Israel to declare over 1,270 hectares of land in the West Bank as ‘state lands.’” Building houses should not be treated with language usually reserved for murder.

The statement then added complaints about the Israeli settlement program more generally, and about Israel’s decision to withhold some tax revenues it collected on behalf of the Palestinian Authority (PA).

Why does Israel ever withhold such funds? Sometimes it is in the immediate aftermath of a terrorist attack. Sometimes it’s domestic politics. But it’s worth remembering something else: the Taylor Force Act, which became law in 2018 and stated that the “Palestinian Authority’s practice of paying salaries to terrorists serving in Israeli prisons, as well as to the families of deceased terrorists, is an incentive to commit acts of terror.” Until those payments cease, most forms of aid from the U.S. government to the Palestinian Authority may not be made. The payments continue. It is not clear if the State Department is pressuring the Palestinian Authority to end them.

Such moral considerations are entirely absent from the G-7 statement. The statement may be correct when it says, “maintaining economic stability in the West Bank is critical for regional security.” But it should be obvious that ending the pay-for-slay program and rewards for terrorism is even more critical for regional security. It’s a pity the G-7 did not find time to mention that.

The statement, it’s worth noting, appeared on the U.S. State Department website.

Read more at Pressure Points

More about: Europe and Israel, Palestinian Authority, Palestinian terror, U.S. Foreign policy, West Bank