Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett referred to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as the “Jewish-Palestinian conflict” during a hearing on a case concerning public funding of religious schools on Wednesday.
“How would you even know if a school taught all religions are bigoted and biased or Catholics are bigoted or, you know, we take a position on the Jewish-Palestinian conflict because of our position on, you know, Jews, right?” said Barrett arguing to extend public funds to religious schools.
The case concerns the constitutionality of the tuition assistance programme in the state of Maine, where more than half of school districts don’t have public secondary schools. Maine’s school tuition payment programme excludes schools that promote a faith or belief. Two families sued after they were denied tuition assistance, arguing that the program violates their religious freedom and equal protection rights.
Barrett’s comments sparked criticism. “Pls stop using Judaism to support undermining church-state separation,” said Rachel Laser, president and CEO of Americans United for Separation of Church and State. “Most Jews are *relieved* for states like ME not to fund religious education ‘cuz we know we’d otherwise mostly be funding a religion not ours & that may well say negative things about us.”
Others accused Barrett, who was appointed controversially by former US President Donald Trump, of using her influential position to push the agenda of right-wing Americans and evangelical Christians, whose support for Israel is based on a biblical prophecy.
“The right wing in America continues to shape this as a religious conflict to advance their own end-of-time narrative much to the detriment of Palestinian human and civil rights and respect for Judaism as a monotheistic religion rather than a vehicle for Christians to exploit for their own biblical prophecies,” said MSNBC host Ayman Mohyeldin.
“When a sitting judge on the US Supreme Court mischaracterizes the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and frames it as a religious one, it is telling sign of just how poorly the realities on the ground in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories are understood,” added Mohyeldin commenting on the wider problem of the lack knowledge about Israel’s ongoing occupation of Palestine.