by: Ilse Strauss
Friday, 13 December 2019 | US President Donald Trump on Wednesday evening signed an executive order aimed at combatting the growing scourge of anti-Semitism on American college campuses. The president inked the order at the annual White House Hanukkah (Feast of Dedication) Party, surrounded by evangelical Christian leaders and Jewish members of the administration.
The order reportedly entails that the US Department of Education will be required to extend its interpretation of Judaism from merely religion to race and nationality, classifying the Jewish people as both an ethnic and a religious group. The implication thereof is that Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act—which bans discrimination based on race, color or national origin in programs and activities, such as colleges and universities, that receive federal funding—will be applicable to discrimination based on anti-Semitism. The result? The US government will have the power to withhold funding from colleges and universities where Jewish students are discriminated against or where anti-Semitism isn’t nipped in the bud.
Leaving nothing to chance, the order borrows its definition of anti-Semitism from an extensive formulation by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance in 2016 and adopted by the Anti-Defamation League, which describes it as “a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.”
President Trump explained that the order was geared towards tackling anti-Semitism disguised as anti-Zionism or anti-Israel activities and is expected to deal a blow to the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement that has made tremendous inroads on college campuses.
Before putting pen to paper, President Trump said, “This action makes clear that Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, which prohibits the federal funding of universities and other institutions that engage in discrimination, applies to institutions that traffic in anti-Semitic hate.
“This is our message to universities,” he continued. “If you want to accept the tremendous amount of federal dollars that you get every year, you must reject anti-Semitism. It’s very simple.”
Incumbent Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu applauded the order, saying: “Free speech is not carte blanche for anti-Semitic attacks on the Jewish people and the State of Israel.”
The signing of the order comes a day after the US once again suffered the effects of festering anti-Semitism. On Tuesday, two killers armed with five guns, including an AR-15-style rifle and a shotgun, stormed a kosher supermarket in New Jersey, killing four people in the ensuing rampage.
According to New Jersey Mayor Steven Fulop, the two killers intentionally selected the kosher supermarket, implying a terrorist attack targeting Jews. New Jersey Attorney General confirmed the motive, calling the attack “domestic terrorism fueled both by anti-Semitism and anti-law enforcement beliefs.”
In a nod to the connection between the tragic loss of life and anti-Semitism, President Trump said, “Our thoughts turn to the grieving families in New Jersey. With one heart, America weeps for the lives lost, with one voice we vow to crush the monstrous evil of anti-Semitism whenever and wherever it appears.”
Posted on December 13, 2019
Source: (Bridges for Peace, December 13, 2019)
Photo Credit: The White House/D. Myles Cullen/flickr.com
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