Treatment of Jewish Religious Schools Evidences Muslim Minority Discrimination

Photograph: Rob Stothard/Getty Images

The focus of PREVENT has discriminatorily targeted and resultantly profiled the Muslim minority for some time.  Over the past year, I have documented how the structural discrimination at the state level has progressed pretty much unnoticed and without any furore – the type of furore that was created based upon smears and allegations last year which culminated in multiple reports being commissioned and published, which led to Muslims being associated with the far-right derogatory term, Trojan Horse (based off a fabricated letter no less).

I have challenged the skewed application of the term “extremism”.  Indeed, biased, politically motivated investigations in other communities would yield interesting findings, and the government alongside complicit mouthpiece media would have little trouble turning the Jewish community for instance, into an “enemy within”. However the indifferent attitude to issues in the Jewish community, exemplifies the discrimination facing Muslim. Early last year I highlighted a school in which corporal punishment was being meted out to Jewish children by teachers.  Most of the media did not even report the findings of Ofsted. Neither was there a relentless cultural attack on Jews designed to prove the inferiority of their way of life. No muscular liberalism was flexed.

A later report noted that “Jewish studies replaced the secular curriculum”, whilst Jewish girls were taught enough education “to help them raise children”, and were “treated like nothing”. However, there was no white knight Cameron making pledges in Stamford Hill to save Jewish girls, as he did for Muslim girls recently in his atrociously colonialist Birmingham speech.

Even Andrew Gilligan in a solitary article published last year covering Orthodox Jewish schools, highlighted that these schools were “insular” and non-integrative.

Excising the “Extremism” discourse from the Jewish Community

However, Gilligan conveniently neglected to mention the word “extremism” in his article.  Indeed if the media wanted to apply the neocons’ “ideology-only” aspect of radicalisation, it could connect the Orthodox Jewish schools in Britain (known as Yeshivas, further discussed below) to the Yeshivas in the Zionist entity in Palestine. There are certainly reasons to be concerned within this fallacious, PREVENT framework of counter-extremism. In an interview with the Guardian, a former resident of Stamford Hill sees these schools fostering “issues of community cohesion” – the “soft-end” of the “extremism” spectrum in counter-extremism lingo.  Furthermore, a week ago, in the Zionist entity, the extremist group Lehava’s leader Benxi Gopstein called for Churches to be torched at a panel held for Yeshiva students.  This group in the past has held demonstrations chanting “death to Arabs”. An occupying orthodox Jewish “settler” recently firebombed a Palestinian home burning a baby to death. Then there is the swept-under-the-carpet issue of teenage British Zionist Jews potentially being “radicalised” at schools which promote Zionism, and who then go on to join a terrorist occupying army of a state which has a Defence Minister who cites Nagasaki and Hiroshima as model for dealing with Iran.

Based upon the neocon framework of “ideology-only”, there is clearly enough evidence here for potential Jewish “extremist breeding grounds”. And these “swamps” may exist in London, Salford and Gateshead.  Why are the neocons like Michael Gove and Michael Wilshaw so silent on draining these “swamps”? This threat could hypothetically manifest against Britain. Indeed, in the tragic case of the Palestinian baby being burned to death, there was certainly a political dimension to the attack.  Known as “price-tag” attacks, this terrorism is the consequence of the far-right Jewish “settlers’” refusal to accept the Zionist government’s action against “settlers”.  Would “price-tag” attacks occur here if British foreign policy turns against the Zionist entity and the wishes of the far-right/ultra-Orthodoxy/”settler”-movement?

The equal application of the counter-extremism discourse to the adherents of Judaism and Zionism however, is conspicuously notable by its absence, and it reinforces the notion of structural, state discrimination perpetuated by the neocon government and connected media.

State Discrimination – Unregistered Yeshiva School

A recent Guardian report brought to attention yet another example of the anti-Muslim, discriminatory attitude of the state and its “exceptionalism” towards the Jewish community.

“It is no secret – from the age of 13, many boys in this community attend religious yeshivas, which focus on study of the Talmud and the Torah. These schools start early and finish late – according to some accounts, continuing until 10pm. They do not teach the national curriculum, and according to former pupils there is little tuition in basics such as English or maths.”

Was there an outcry? No aspect of the national curriculum is being taught. The national media of course, is too busy recycling stories from the nineties which incidentally help demonise the Muslim community, to be bothered about this culture which would make children “vulnerable to extremism”. The issue of unregistered schools affects Islamic schools also, however, the Guardian article highlights the “exceptionalism” afforded to the Jewish community courtesy of the lethargy demonstrated by the usually energetic Department for Education (when attacking Muslims, at least),

“…while reports suggest that investigations are under way into a number of unregistered Muslim schools, some commentators believe the DfE is reluctant to take a hard line with the Orthodox Jewish community.

A member of the Hasidic community also confirmed that,

“The DfE are well aware of the problem… but the DfE hasn’t done anything at all.”

Perhaps the reason for this inactivity is because DfE resources are dedicated to rooting out those pesky Muslims from the education sphere.

State Discrimination – Unregistered Pupils and “Extremism”

According to the DfE’s 2012 briefing note, there are 800-1,000 Orthodox Jewish boys between the ages of 13 and 16 missing from the school system in the London borough of Hackney.  This is of demonstrably little concern to the DfE/Ofsted to the extent that nothing effective has yet been done to deal with the issue.  More pertinently, it is certainly not being seen through the lens of counter-extremism.

What is of concern for Gove’s associate, Michael Wilshaw, are extremists, sorry, Muslim children who are not registered. Wilshaw stated just last month that there was a “serious safeguarding issue”, emerging with increasing number of pupils at “Trojan Horse schools” being taken off school registers:

“We cannot be sure that some of the children whose destinations are unknown are not being exposed to harm, exploitation or the influence of extremist ideologies.”

There is an implicit, colour-blind racist assumption here that an unquantifiable risk of radicalisation is due to the association of being Muslim and therefore excessive state paternalism is required, presumably because Muslim parents cannot be trusted to protect their own children.  This is the type of assumption and indeed “extremism” context, which is manifestly absent when addressing the issue of Jewish children missing from the school system.

Concluding Remarks

The above should not be interpreted as an attack on the Jewish orthodoxy. If there are legitimate issues, then they should be dealt with an equal manner to other minorities.  However, the past year and a half has been witness to unequal treatment of the Muslim minority.  From the spin of the media and the messages given by the state, to the actions taken by government organs which cast Muslim toddlers as potential terrorists, the reality is that one group is being treated as a glutton for neocon fascism whilst another is being ignored and excluded from the Orwellian counter-extremism discourse.  All this indicates to an increasingly inescapable conclusion: the evidence for structural Muslim minority discrimination is mounting.

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