‘Grounds’ for emigration

This week, while Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was in New York addressing the United Nations General Assembly — and hitting the talk-show circuit to make the case for remaining vigilant on Iran — two domestic stories were taking precedence at water coolers across Israel.

The first was a three-part series of news items presented by Channel 10’s senior economic correspondent, Matan Hodorov, on the phenomenon of Israeli emigration. The second was the grand opening of a Tel Aviv cafe called Cofix, which offers take-away coffee and baked goods for only 5 shekels (about $1.40) apiece.

Hodorov’s program, “The New Yordim” (a traditionally derogatory term for Israelis who abandon their homeland for greener pastures abroad), examines the latest wave of young people leaving Israel, many of them in favor of Berlin. Naturally, there’s nothing like a tale of coming full circle — from Jews fleeing the Nazis, only to have their grandchildren flock back to Germany a few decades later for affordable housing, easily obtainable marijuana and trendy pubs — to make for an interesting study. But not all of the Israelis interviewed had moved to Europe. Some were in the United States, of course, and others in Australia. Nothing new about that.

Indeed, throughout Israel’s very short history, there have been waves of emigration and an equal number of newspaper articles, doctoral theses and dinner-table discussions on their significance. Periodically, when talking about where Zionism is headed, journalists point to the illustrious founding fathers, politicians and authors whose offspring live outside of Israel. One example often cited is Alon Ben-Gurion, the grandson of Israel’s first prime minister, who manages the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York.


In Europe, The War Against Brit Milah Wins A Battle

It seems that the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe has in effect cast itself in the role of “Captain Foreskin” the superhero of an obnoxious American cartoon series (see here).

For it’s handed a victory to the secularists and medicos who, like these in Norway, class male circumcision as child abuse and want it outlawed.

Admittedly, it’s not only brit milah that’s targeted, but the fact that Muslim male circumcision seems to be driving this assault on ancient custom is hardly comforting. Nor is the fact that male circumcision is lumped together with a truly barbaric and reprehensible practice, female genital mutilation, which migrants from benighted countries have brought to Europe, and which does deserve a zero-tolerance policy.

As Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt, president of the European Conference of Rabbis, recently declared regarding Sweden’s proposed ban:

“It betrays a dangerous ignorance of what is involved in the practice of milah as compared with the abhorrent practice of female genital mutilation.”

FRANK SALVATO:Federal Government: Embarrassing to the Point of Painful

As the so-called “government shutdown” drags on, one thing is hard not to admit: the Obama Administration is acting in a manner that is attempting to extract the maximum amount of pain on the American people. While many are wondering how it came to this point, those of us who actually paid attention in Social Studies, Civics and American History classes – school subject that are, today, given little, if any, attention – understand it’s because the US Constitution and the purity of the original governmental process has been raped by the opportunistic political class.

Our nation has always had a robust political discourse, commencing from before we were even a documented nation. We have always been represented by a passionate, spirited political class; strong in their beliefs, but educated and knowledgeable enough to legislate and govern for the good of all the people. Today, this is not the case.

Today, we have a political class that insists on the importance of ideologically motivated political “achievements” over the honest representation of the American people; loyalty to political faction – of which each and every Framer and Founder warned – over loyalty to those who delivered them to power via the ballot box.

Today, we literally have people in the political class that have an inferior command of the English language, an inferior and under-performing understanding of the principles of the Constitution and the Charters of Freedom, and a devotion to Progressivism; a non-indigenous, Marxist-based ideology that believes the State is the Alpha and the Omega; the giver of rights and the final arbiter of freedom and liberty.

Hillary’s Secret Deal With Morsi — on The Glazov Gang

This week’s Glazov Gang was joined by Steven Emerson, the Executive Director of The Investigative Project on Terrorism.

He discusses Hillary’s Secret Deal With Morsi [starts at the 12:00 mark]. The discussion was preceded by a spotlight on Who Is Eric Holder? and The Sordid World of CAIR.

JONAH GOLDBERG: THE BUDGET FIGHT AND OBAMA’S VINDICTIVE STREAK Shutting down the government in an effort to use a budget fight to get rid of Obamacare is not the strategy I would have recommended for the GOP. And while Republicans can be blamed for starting the shutdown, it’s increasingly apparent that President Obama and the Democrats deserve the lion’s share of blame for […]


A once-great education scholar rejects everything she previously believed.

Education writer and activist Diane Ravitch is very angry these days. She’s convinced herself and her followers that elements of the American corporate elite are working to destroy the nation’s public schools, the indispensable institution that has held our republic together for more than two centuries. According to Ravitch, these fake reformers—the “billionaire boys’ club,” as she calls them—are driven by greed: after destroying the schools and stigmatizing hardworking teachers, she says, they want to privatize education and reap the profits from the new market.

Heading Ravitch’s corporate enemies list are superrich philanthropists such as Bill Gates, Eli Broad, the Walton family, and Michael Bloomberg, who’ve promoted the hated ideas. Equally despised are the education officials and politicians carrying out their dirty work—reformers such as ex-Washington, D.C., public schools’ chief Michelle Rhee, former New York City schools chancellor Joel Klein, former Florida governor Jeb Bush, and education secretary Arne Duncan (and, by implication, his boss, the president, too).

A few years ago, Ravitch grew so troubled about the purported threat to the public schools that she went through an amazing life change for a 73-year-old historian, whose previous career had been spent writing scholarly books. She reinvented herself as a vehement political activist. Once one of the conservative school-reform movement’s most visible faces, Ravitch became the inspirational leader of a radical countermovement that is rising from the grass roots to oppose the corporate villains. Evoking the civil rights movement and Martin Luther King, Ravitch proclaims that the only answer to the corporate school-reform agenda is to “build a political movement so united and clear in its purpose that it would be heard in every state Capitol and even in Washington, D.C.” The problem is that Ravitch’s civil rights analogy is misplaced; her new ideological allies have proved themselves utterly incapable of raising the educational achievement of poor minority kids.

Ravitch first entered the education-reform wars in 1974 with her well-received The Great School Wars, a history of New York City’s public schools. She was then a research fellow and lecturer at Columbia University’s Teachers College. Teachers College was and remains a progressive-education bastion, but Ravitch brought a moderate, centrist perspective to exploring the public schools’ problems. She launched her writing career at publications such as the neoconservative Commentary and The New Leader. Politically, she was basically a Henry “Scoop” Jackson Democrat. The sixties New Left and counterculture seemed to have passed her by. In her book on the city schools, she scorned “limousine liberals” like New York mayor John Lindsay and the Ford Foundation for creating experimental, “community-controlled” school districts and turning them over to black nationalists, with disastrous results.

Ravitch gained wider prominence in the 1980s as she joined in the criticism of the public schools unleashed by the Reagan administration’s 1983 Nation at Risk report, with its frequently quoted warning: “The educational foundations of our society are presently being eroded by a rising tide of mediocrity that threatens our very future as a nation and a people.” Five years later, she coauthored, with Chester E. Finn, What Do Our 17-Year-Olds Know? The well-researched book’s answer: not much. The authors blamed American students’ ignorance partly on the fact that public schools lacked a “coherent literature curriculum.” Indeed, Ravitch began calling for voluntary national standards and championed the teaching of rich academic content knowledge, even in the early grades, and she became associated with E. D. Hirsch’s Core Knowledge movement. In his 1987 bestseller, Cultural Literacy, Hirsch credited Ravitch for providing “the single greatest impetus for writing this book” and for suggesting the title. Ravitch soon found herself facing nasty attacks from progressive educators for her “elitism” and for championing “dead white males.”

Though still nominally a Democrat, Ravitch accepted an offer from newly elected president George H. W. Bush to become his assistant secretary of education. Her official assignment was to develop voluntary national standards, but she also came to agree with the administration’s support for school choice. When Ravitch’s Bush stint was over, the Teachers College mandarins, offended by her making common cause with reactionary Republicans, told her not to bother reapplying for her old job. Instead, she became a fellow at the Brookings Institution and wrote a book on national standards. Though the federal government couldn’t require the states to adopt such standards, she concluded, students would benefit if the states voluntarily moved toward them.

Ravitch received financial support for her scholarly work from the conservative John M. Olin Foundation and eventually joined the Koret Task Force at the Hoover Institution. The education-reform movement had acquired a new star, a Democrat supporting almost the entire Republican education agenda—vouchers, more testing, teacher accountability, and higher standards. Ravitch even served on George W. Bush’s 2000 presidential campaign as an education advisor, though she withdrew before the election.

Sometime around 2007, Ravitch began having second thoughts about the free-market components of education reform. In a public debate at Hoover, she teamed with Hirsch to argue in favor of a resolution affirming that “true school reform demands more attention to curriculum and instruction than to markets and choice.” In a controversial 2008 City Journal essay, I argued something similar, and Ravitch came to my defense, publishing a short City Journal piece endorsing “a coherent, year-by-year progression of studies in science, history, literature, geography, civics, economics, and the arts” in the public schools. In history, she explained, students in the early grades would “learn about the great deeds of significant men and women, study distant civilizations, and begin to understand chronology and the relation between causes and effects.” Ravitch also urged reformers “to view the evidence with open minds and be prepared to change course in light of new evidence.”

Ravitch elaborated on these arguments in her best-selling 2010 book, The Death and Life of the Great American School System. She explained there how “new evidence” had led her to change her mind on vouchers and on evaluating teachers by their students’ test scores, but she still expressed hope that the American people would support national standards and “a sequential, knowledge-rich curriculum.”

Ravitch had also initiated a series of written exchanges about key education issues with the prominent progressive educator Deborah Meier. “Bridging Differences” ran in Education Week for almost five years. Ravitch noted at the series’ outset that she “was wrong to support choice as a primary mechanism for school reform.” But throughout the colloquy, she held firm against the progressive-education agenda on issues such as curriculum and standards. It could not have been an easy situation for Ravitch. She now stood apart from both the Right and the Left, loyal only to the evidence—or so she claimed.

Then, Ravitch abruptly took yet another dramatic spin and wound up surrendering abjectly to Meier, champion of social-justice teaching and other progressive fads. For the progressives, it was similar to the defection of a top general from the enemy side. Ravitch later said that Meier had convinced her that she was wrong about everything. Not only had Ravitch changed her mind about school choice and testing; she had closed her mind to the possibility of any successful reforms, including national standards, curriculum, and classroom instruction. And anyone who persisted in supporting such “de-forms,” she maintained, must either be a reactionary or (like Duncan, presumably) a dupe of the reactionary corporate-reform movement. In Ravitch’s new lexicon, the word “reformer” became pejorative.


The diplomat the whole world ignores Catherine Ashton heads a wasteful, top-heavy and ineffectual project costing European taxpayers half a billion pounds a year. She’s a living metaphor for the EU as a whole


It was like an assignation in a spy thriller. A helicopter picked up the middle-aged woman in the early hours and flew her to a secret location deep in Egypt. Then she was whisked to a military base, where she met an infamous Islamist hidden from the world for a month.

Afterwards, the woman faced the world’s press to reveal that Mohamed Morsi, the elected president overthrown in a controversial coup by his army generals, was in good health. She refused to divulge details of their two-hour conversation — “I’m not going to put words into his mouth,” she said a little pompously — but threw in the tidbit that Morsi, held with two advisers, had a well-stocked fridge and access to television.

It was Baroness Ashton’s finest moment in the four turbulent years since she took on her job as the European Union’s top diplomat, becoming then the world’s highest-paid female politician despite never having faced an electorate. For all the achievement of becoming the first foreign dignitary to see the Muslim Brotherhood leader since he was toppled, she has little to show for her time in the job, despite clocking up an impressive number of air miles.

Her tenure has been scarred by backbiting and blunders as she has built an extravagant empire of Eurocrats around the world. Yet it seems largely pointless and ineffective, despite having 139 “embassies”, 3,417 staff, 650 cars and costing close to half a billion pounds each year. Catherine Ashton’s creation, the European External Action Service (EEAS)-a legacy of the controversial 2007 Lisbon Treaty — is part of Europe’s ambition to seize control of foreign policy. It is typically wasteful and top-heavy: at least 50 officials earn more than our own Prime Minister’s £142,500 salary.

ISLAM’S JIHAD AGAINST THE WEST IS CENTURIES OLD: RAYMOND IBRAHIM The predominant historical narrative in the West is that Muslims are the historic “victims” of “intolerant” Western Christians. The truth is closer to the reverse of that Rereading some early history books concerning the centuries-long jihad on Europe, it recently occurred to me how ignorant the modern West is of its own past. The […]

DIANA WEST:Clapper: Shutdown a ‘Dreamland for Foreign Intelligence Services to Recruit’ The following is a report from state-supported Russia Televsion on DNI Clapper’s testimony on the impact on the government shutdown on inteligence. The italics are in the original — so the Big Boss is sure to notice. What drew my eye was this (itals in original): “This is a dreamland for foreign intelligence services to […]

JESSE JACKSON’S HYPOCRISY IN CUBA: IGNORING CASTRO’S BLACK POLITICAL PRISONERS….SILVIO CANTO My friend Carlos Eire, author, university professor and one of the 14,000 unaccompanied children who came to the US under “Pedro Pan” in the 1960s, alerted us to the latest display of Jesse Jackson irresponsibility.        Incredibly, Jesse Jackson, the same man who could not speak enough about Nelson Mandela and aparthed in the […]