Sunday, November 05, 2017

California School Officials Refuse to Fight Antisemitism

For years, Jewish college students across the country have been harassed and intimidated. Frighteningly, this ugly problem is seeping into our high schools and even our middle and elementary schools.

In Alameda, California, middle and elementary schools have been defaced with swastikas and a Jewish elementary school student reportedly received a death threat. Under pressure from the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) and the parents of Natasha Waldorf — who received multiple antisemitic threats at Alameda High School — Alameda Unified School District (AUSD) officials are finally admitting that antisemitism is a problem and that they’ve made mistakes in how they’ve responded to it. But they are still not doing what’s needed.

The AUSD must implement a prevention, protection and proscription plan. Prevention means educating students and families about antisemitism and making it clear that harassing Jewish students won’t be tolerated. Protection means adequately training staff to recognize, stop and report antisemitism. Proscription means effectively responding to antisemitism, including by publicly condemning it, appropriately disciplining wrongdoers, and ensuring that targeted students are protected.

AUSD’s current protocols have failed. School officials never asked Natasha to formally report any of the antisemitic threats she endured from classmates last year, even though California law requires districts to have a process to receive and investigate harassment complaints.


A Traditional Marriage Student Group Has Been Branded a ‘Hate Group’

In today’s bitter political climate, there are few labels more intellectually lazy than “hate group.” When you label an entity as a “hate group,” you automatically demonize it and remove from your shoulders any mantle of responsibility to dialogue or engage in civil discourse with this denounced entity.

This cowardly melodrama is currently playing out at our nation’s oldest Catholic university, where a student group has come under attack for taking the allegedly “hateful” position that Christianity got it right when it said sexual relations were meant for marriage, and that marriage was meant to be between a man and woman.

Students at Georgetown University founded Love Saxa, an affiliate of the Love & Fidelity Network, because they saw a gaping void on campus. In the face of the hook-up culture, widespread pornography usage, increasing sexual assaults, and attacks on the institution of marriage, Love Saxa sought to be a voice that would argue for the cultivation of healthy relationships, the repossession of sexual integrity, and the defense of traditional marriage.

Love Saxa’s position is not a popular one, particularly on a D.C. campus of politically active millennials. But one would hope that its place at a Catholic university, even one so liberal as Georgetown, would provide some level of security. But when the utter complacency of the Georgetown University administration is combined with the insatiable appetite of social justice warriors, no strand of Orthodox Christianity can be left unthreatened.

Last week, members of Georgetown’s Pride group filed a petition to sanction Love Saxa and strip it of its university funding and ability to operate on campus. Several days earlier, the editorial board of Georgetown’s student paper The Hoya—whose staff clearly hold up CNN and The New York Times as paragons of journalistic integrity—penned an op-ed accusing Love Saxa of fostering hostility and intolerance because of its commitment to the Christian view of procreative marriage.

The authors of the article at least recognize that Love Saxa’s mission statement is in line with the Catholic Church’s view of marriage and sexuality; however, their faculties of logic fail them when they go on to claim that despite upholding the same faith as its university, Love Saxa is violating the university’s code of conduct by arguing against same-sex marriage.

But then, logic and rationality needn’t play a large role when one can simply bandy about “hate group” terminology. The left’s modus operandi appears to be to toss out words like “intolerant” and “dehumanizing” alongside a few accusations of “hostility” and “bigotry” and hope that in the subsequent maelstrom of indignant outcries, no one notices the utter lack of coherency in its position.

Unfortunately, their ploy has proven successful far too frequently. Even now, in the face of this sham of a petition, Georgetown’s official statement is predictably weak, and it even appears to be giving a semblance of credence to the calls to silence Love Saxa: “As a Catholic and Jesuit institution, Georgetown listens deeply and discerningly to the plurality of voices that exist among our students, faculty, and staff and is committed to the care of each member of our community,” Rachel Pugh, a university spokesperson, said.

Pugh provides no further clarification of how the school will deal with a “plurality of voices” when only one voice is defending the faith it purports to believe.

G.K. Chesterton wrote that “tolerance is the virtue of the man without conviction,” and, speaking as a Georgetown alumnae and a founding board member of Love Saxa, it is unfortunate—though I confess not entirely unexpected—that Georgetown is once again revealing the tepidity of its own commitment to Catholicism, and choosing the “tolerant” path over that of conviction.

Perhaps they think doing so will quiet the liberal voices calling for the disbanding of Love Saxa, but that is a position so naive as to be indefensible. The left has proven that it does not stop in its quest to silence its opposition, no matter how “discerningly” that opposition hears its complaints. No compromise is sufficient for it. Once given an inch, these forces of illiberal liberalism demand a mile.

Chad Gasman, a sophomore at Georgetown and the president of GU Pride, told The Hoya that this petition, which he helped to file, will “force Georgetown University to actually be queer-friendly and queer-affirming.” Such a statement reveals that nothing short of an open endorsement of all same-sex relationships, including marriage, will be enough, no matter how much it defies the faith of the institution they have chosen to attend.

On Tuesday, the university will vote on whether or not to defund the club. If Love Saxa is banned from defending the Christian vision of sexuality and marriage, how will the Jesuits of Georgetown be able to refrain from referring to their own church as a “hate group?” How long before they will be called on to condemn the doctrinal tenets of Catholicism?


Ort is the jewel in community's education crown, says Patel

Although Ort provides education and skills training in 37 countries, the focus of this year’s event, held on Tuesday night, was on its projects in Israel.

    Priti Patel, the Secretary of State for International Development, told attendees at Ort UK’s annual dinner that the organisation was the “jewel in the crown” of the Jewish community’s educational tradition.

    Ms Patel began her speech by quoting from the Shema prayer:    “And you shall teach your children, when you sit in your house, and when you walk on your way and when you lie down and when you get up,” she said.

    “For centuries you have recited these words twice a day in your most famous prayer, the Shema. But the Jewish community does not just recite these words. You enact them and have done throughout your history. And of course Ort is a jewel in the crown of that educational tradition.”

    She praised Israel, describing how during her time as Secretary of State at the Department of International Development, she had seen the bringing of “Israeli solar technology to remote villages in Africa, to produce clean running water and electricity.

    “This desire and responsibility to want to help others, coupled with that wonderful can-do attitude that is so central to the Jewish community and the heart of Israel, is… precisely the sort of Jewish homeland that was dreamt by Herzl, and was of course supported by that historic letter, the Balfour Declaration, a letter sent 100 years ago,” she continued.

    “Britain is proud of our important contribution to the creation of the state of Israel, and we continue to believe in Israel’s people, the right to self-determination, and the future prosperity of Israel.”

    However, Adam Overlander-Kaye, Ort UK’s chief executive, warned the crowd that Israel’s educational situation was not quite as rosy as it might appear.

    “We know Israel as the start-up nation, providing the world with cutting-edge medical devices, developing artificial intelligence systems that will enable farmers to produce more sustainable crops, and leading the way in cyber-security and hi-tech innovation and research”, he said.

    “So you might be surprised to hear that levels of education in Israel have fallen in recent years, so much so that Israel’s Education Minister, Naftali Bennett, recently declared a national state of emergency in the fields of medicine and science.”

    He told the 250-strong gathering at the Jumeirah Carlton Tower in Knightsbridge that ORT’s response had been “to devise a new programme in conjunction with the [Israeli] Ministry of Education and Google” to provide maths and robotics classes, with Simon Alberga, chairman of Ort UK, describing the charity’s “network of over 40 schools, youth villages and technological colleges, serving peripheral communities in the north and south… focussing on science and technology education.”


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