Premium Picks: Back to school, back to basics

The editor's round-up of who's saying what in this week's Premium Zone.

Netanyahu visits school 370 (photo credit: GPO/Moshe Milner)
Netanyahu visits school 370
(photo credit: GPO/Moshe Milner)
As this week’s Premium Zone round-up demonstrates, the topic on everyone’s lips is education as Israel ushers in a new academic year. None other than Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu kicked off the school year in an elementary school in Efrat. Meantime in a village called Jish in the Galilee, the local elementary school has rather a different agenda than hosting the country’s leaders: The school, which is connected to the Maronite Church, hopes to revive the Aramaic language by including Aramaic studies as part of its curriculum.
Last week Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar, who joined the prime minister on his trip to Efrat, conveyed his demands that haredi educational institutions incorporate core subjects like math and English into their curriculum. Premium Zone Expert, Evelyn Gordon, takes Sa’ar to task by claiming that there is no evidence to support the notion that such a core curriculum will mean more haredim will join the army or workforce.
Moving on from elementary schools to institutions for higher education, Ziv Hellman examines a new degree initiative that aims to combat some of the damage caused by staff reductions and budget cuts in the academic sphere.
Another of our Experts has become jaded by some of the lies that are being taught in Palestinian schools regarding Jewish rights to the land. In his article, Selling a big lie, the Friends of Israel executive director, Elwood McQuaid, opines that in a culture of lies truth becomes the victim.
But lying isn’t only confined to the Middle East, as Avi Perry illustrates in his similarly titled op-ed, It’s a lie but it’s effective. Here, Perry unravels many of the myths that the GOP are spreading in their campaign to get Republican nominee, Mitt Romney, elected as president.
However, incumbent US President Barack Obama isn’t getting off the hook so lightly either. Usually an avid Obama supporter, our resident lawyer Alan Dershowitz this week criticizes the US president for failing to clearly enunciate to Iran that Washington will never allow Iran to go nuclear.
Keeping on the subject of Iran, Daniel Brode postulates that the problem has less to with the country’s nuclear program and more to do with the radical brand of Islam that its leadership promotes. As such, the Islamic Republic remains Israel’s ultimate target, and all else, including their nuclear program, is secondary.
On the other side of the coin in the Muslim world, Rabbi Reuven Hammer calls upon Jews to love the stranger and stop the hatred, and condemns those that hurl invectives at Arabs and Muslims such as Tzfat’s Chief Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu and Shas spiritual leader Ovadia Yosef. Religious intolerance is spreading in the US as well, as Anne Roiphe writes about in her exposition of an anti-Muslim hate-fest in a small town in Tennessee. Roiphe’s sentiments reflect Hammers as she calls upon Jews to protest the insidious campaigning against Muslims.
Back to Israel where Shlomo Maital hopes that someday the younger generation will get a chance for a better future. Maital claims that in a world where youth are getting screwed by their parents’ fiscal extravagance, the year-old social protest movement is entirely justified. Meantime, the last vestiges of the social protest movement are going to be pitching their tents for a little while longer as they appeal to Tel Aviv’s municipality for an extension, as reported in this fun piece on Israel’s Kafkaesque bureaucracy.   
Access all of the above articles and more by becoming a Premium Zone subscriber here