Gove at­tacks faith schools ‘per­se­cu­tion’

The Jewish Chronicle - - News - BY AN­SHEL PF­EF­FER

A SHADOW Min­is­ter has at­tacked the gov­ern­ment’s in­ter­ven­tions over faith-schools ad­mis­sions poli­cies, say­ing that he is “in­censed by the way the gov­ern­ment’s ac­tions have put Jewish schools in the dock”.

Michael Gove told the JC at the Con­ser­va­tive Party Con­fer­ence in Birm­ing­ham that the long ex­pe­ri­ence of Jewish faiths schools should act as a model for schools of other faiths.

The Tory schools spokesman ap­peared at a packed re­cep­tion given by the Con­ser­va­tive Friends of Is­rael on Sun­day with Is­raeli am­bas­sador to Bri­tain, Ron Prosor.

Mr Gove, who is to make his first visit to Is­rael in two weeks, paid trib­ute to “the free so­ci­ety that cher­ishes the in­di­vid­ual and is unique that they have done so much, not only for their own coun­try but for the all of hu­mankind”.

He said that when peo­ple talk about boy­cotting Is­rael, “I feel my­self shiver­ing, be­cause this talk of boy­cotting was just the kind of talk we were hear­ing in the 1930s. Now an­tisemitism takes a new form, as a wholly dis­pro­por­tion­ate dis­like of the Is­raeli state.”

Speak­ing about his own min­is­te­rial brief, Mr Gove said he “is a huge fan of Jewish faith schools” and that the re­cent furore over ad­mis­sions pol­icy “fo­cused on Jewish schools in an un­for­tu­nate way”.

While he did not be­lieve that this had been de­lib­er­ate, he said: “Once the gov­ern­ment de­cided to check cer­tain ar­eas, a greater de­gree of sen­si­tiv­ity should have been ex­er­cised. The depart­ment could have had a quiet and firm word with head­teach­ers if they had over­stepped the line, in­stead of the way they acted.”

Mr Gove said he sup­ported faith schools for other re­li­gions and rec­om­mended that the gov­ern­ment should “learn from the 100 years of ex­pe­ri­ence of Jewish schools in Bri­tain, the way they both con­nect their pupils to their tra­di­tion and are at the same time fully in­te­grated in this coun­try”.

Re­gard­ing schools else­where, Mr Gove said that a Tory gov­ern­ment would en­sure tax­pay­ers’ money did not go to­wards print­ing hate-filled Pales­tinian school­books. He added: “Care must be taken that money that goes to the Pales­tinian Au­thor­ity doesn’t al­low them to free up money for ter­ror.”

Am­bas­sador Prosor spoke of Paul McCart­ney’s con­cert in Tel Aviv last week as a great achieve­ment for Is­rael’s im­age. But, re­fer­ring to the UN speech by Ira­nian Pres­i­dent Mah­moud Ah­madine­jad this week, Mr Prosor said: “See­ing some­one who dis­plays such deep an­ti­semitic feel­ings, should frighten each

told del­e­gates he was “a huge fan” of Jewish schools and ev­ery one in this room. The Ira­nian nu­clear pro­gramme is like the Eurostar from Lon­don to Paris, head­ing to its des­ti­na­tion very quickly, while the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity is like a passenger train, stop­ping at ev­ery sta­tion. It has to gather speed.”

An­other fringe event on Sun­day evening was or­gan­ised by the Holo­caust Ed­u­ca­tional Trust, ded­i­cated to Bri­tons who had helped Jews dur­ing the Holo­caust, in par­tic­u­lar MI6 of­fi­cer Frank Fo­ley, who is­sued 10,000 visas to Jews in Berlin be­fore the war.

Jeremy Wright, an Op­po­si­tion whip, re­ferred to the need to fight ex­trem­ism in the form of the BNP and “how the Holo­caust teaches us that ex­trem­ism grows on is­lands of ap­a­thy and in­di­vid­u­als make a dif­fer­ence”.

PHOTO: PA

Michael Gove:

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