Trump to Sign Order Targeting Anti-Semitism on College Campuses

  • In Politics
  • 2019-12-11 13:21:00Z
  • By The New York Times
Trump to Sign Order Targeting Anti-Semitism on College Campuses
Trump to Sign Order Targeting Anti-Semitism on College Campuses  

WASHINGTON - President Donald Trump plans to sign an executive order Wednesday targeting what he sees as anti-Semitism on college campuses by threatening to withhold federal money from educational institutions that fail to combat discrimination, three administration officials said Tuesday.

The order will effectively interpret Judaism as a race or nationality, not just a religion, to prompt a federal law penalizing colleges and universities deemed to be shirking their responsibility to foster an open climate for minority students. In recent years, the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement against Israel has roiled some campuses, leaving some Jewish students feeling unwelcome or attacked.

In signing the order, Trump will use his executive power to take action where Congress has not, essentially replicating bipartisan legislation that has stalled on Capitol Hill for several years. Prominent Democrats have joined Republicans in promoting such a policy change to combat anti-Semitism as well as the boycott-Israel movement.

But critics complained that such a policy could be used to stifle free speech and legitimate opposition to Israel's policies toward Palestinians in the name of fighting anti-Semitism. The definition of anti-Semitism to be used in the order matches the one used by the State Department and other nations, but it has been criticized as too open-ended and sweeping.

For instance, it describes as anti-Semitic "denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination" under some circumstances, and offers as an example of such behavior "claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor."

Yousef Munayyer, the executive director of the U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights, said Trump's order is part of a sustained campaign "to silence Palestinian rights activism" by equating opposition to Israeli treatment of Palestinians with anti-Semitism.

"Israeli apartheid is a very hard product to sell in America, especially in progressive spaces," Munayyer said, "and realizing this, many Israeli apartheid apologists, Trump included, are looking to silence a debate they know they can't win."

Administration officials, who insisted on anonymity to discuss the order before its official announcement, said it was not intended to squelch free speech. The White House reached out to some Democrats and activist groups that have been critical of the president to build support for the move.

Among those welcoming the order Tuesday was Jonathan Greenblatt, the chief executive of the Anti-Defamation League, who said the group recorded its third-highest level of anti-Semitic episodes in the United States last year.

"Of course we hope it will be enforced in a fair manner," he said. "But the fact of the matter is we see Jewish students on college campuses and Jewish people all over being marginalized. The rise of anti-Semitic incidents is not theoretical; it's empirical."

David Krone, a former chief of staff to Harry Reid of Nevada when he was Senate Democratic leader, has lobbied for years for such a policy change and praised Trump for taking action.

"I know people are going to criticize me for saying this," Krone said, "but I have to give credit where credit is due." He added, "It's too important to let partisanship get in the way."

Reid helped push for legislation similar to the order called the Anti-Semitism Awareness Act of 2016. It passed the Senate in December 2016 unanimously but died in the House as that session of Congress ended. It had been reintroduced by Democrats and Republicans but had made little progress to Trump's desk.

Krone continued to work on the issue after Reid retired and reached out through a mutual friend last summer to Jared Kushner, the president's son-in-law and senior adviser. The Jewish grandson of Holocaust survivors, Kushner embraced the idea, which also had been explored over the past year by the president's domestic policy aides. With Kushner's support, the White House drafted the order and Trump agreed to sign it.

Trump over the years has been accused of making anti-Semitic remarks, turning a blind eye to anti-Jewish tropes or emboldening white supremacists like those in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017. Just last weekend, he drew criticism for remarks in Florida before the Israeli American Council in which he told the Jewish audience they were "not nice people" but would support his reelection because "you're not going to vote for the wealth tax."

But he has also positioned himself as an unflinching supporter of Israel and a champion of Jewish Americans, moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, supporting settlements in the West Bank and recognizing the seizure of the Golan Heights. He also assailed Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., when she said support for Israel was "all about the Benjamins," meaning money.

Jeremy Ben-Ami, the president of J Street, a liberal Israel advocacy group, said the president's order was a cynical effort to crack down on critics, not to defend Jews from bias. "It is particularly outrageous and absurd for President Trump to pretend to care about anti-Semitism during the same week in which he once again publicly spouted anti-Semitic tropes about Jews and money," he said in a statement.

The president's action comes soon after the Education Department ordered Duke University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to remake their joint Middle East studies program on the grounds that it featured a biased curriculum. The move was part of a broader campaign by Betsy DeVos, the education secretary, and her civil rights chief, Kenneth L. Marcus, to go after perceived anti-Israel bias in higher education.

The order to be signed by Trump would empower the Education Department in such actions. Under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the department can withhold funding from any college or educational program that discriminates "on the ground of race, color, or national origin." Religion was not included among the protected categories, so Trump's order will have the effect of embracing an argument that Jews are a people or a race with a collective national origin in the Middle East, like Italian Americans or Polish Americans.

The definition of anti-Semitism to be adopted from the State Department and originally formulated by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance includes "a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews." However, it adds that "criticism of Israel similar to that leveled against any other country cannot be regarded as anti-Semitic."

The American Civil Liberties Union was among the groups that opposed using the definition in the 2016 legislation, deeming it overly broad. "It cannot and must not be that our civil rights laws are used in such a way to penalize political advocacy on the basis of viewpoint," the group said in a letter to Congress at the time. Kenneth S. Stern, the original lead author of the definition, also objected to using it, saying that "students and faculty members will be scared into silence, and administrators will err on the side of suppressing or censuring speech."

But Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Fla., who was among the sponsors of the 2016 legislation, wrote in an op-ed article in The Times of Israel last week that the definition "was drafted not to regulate free speech or punish people for expressing their beliefs." Instead, he wrote, "This definition can serve as an important tool to guide our government's response to anti-Semitism."

Last week, a group of 80 education, civil rights and religious organizations sent a letter to DeVos complaining that some Middle East studies centers on college campuses financed by the government under Title VI have sought to boycott Israel or shut down their universities' study abroad programs in Israel.

"Recent incidents have demonstrated the willingness of faculty across the country to implement the academic boycott of Israel on their campuses," the letter said.

The president is expected to be joined at the signing by several prominent Republican lawmakers, including Sens. Tim Scott of South Carolina and James Lankford of Oklahoma and Rep. Doug Collins of Georgia. But Democrats who have advocated the legislation in the past are not expected, including Rep. Jerrold Nadler of New York, who on Tuesday released articles of impeachment against Trump.

While an executive order is not as permanent as legislation and can be overturned by the next president, Trump's action may have the effect of extending the policy beyond his administration anyway because his successors may find it politically unappealing to reverse.

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.

© 2019 The New York Times Company


More Related News

Israel economy likely to grow 4.6% in 2021, says finance minister
Israel economy likely to grow 4.6% in 2021, says finance minister

Israel's economy is likely to grow by 4.6% this year, the Finance Ministry said on Sunday in a forecast reliant on continuation of rapid COVID-19...

Why Is Israel Doing Better Than Everyone Else in COVID Vaccinations?
Why Is Israel Doing Better Than Everyone Else in COVID Vaccinations?

Eleven years ago, Dan Senor and Saul Singer dubbed Israel the "Start Up Nation" for its disproportionately large number of technology start-ups and NASDAQ...

Explainer: Road to Palestinian vote full of obstacles
Explainer: Road to Palestinian vote full of obstacles
  • World
  • 2021-01-16 16:35:31Z

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has announced that the first presidential and parliamentary elections since 2006 will be held later this year...

Trump gives award to Morocco
Trump gives award to Morocco's king in private ceremony
  • US
  • 2021-01-15 23:46:42Z

President Donald Trump has awarded a top U.S. honor to King Mohammed VI of Morocco, citing his decision to begin normalization of relations with Israel. The...

AP Interview: Netanyahu challenger pledges change with Biden
AP Interview: Netanyahu challenger pledges change with Biden
  • World
  • 2021-01-15 07:08:14Z

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's top challenger in upcoming elections is promising a tough line toward Iran and the Palestinians, yet expressed...

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

Cancel reply


  • AHoffGeolla
    (2020-01-05 19:04:52Z)

    volunteer - buy generic cialis online send buy generic cialis bread

  • AHoffGeolla
    (2020-01-08 21:44:33Z)

    market - cialis online fantasy cialis online sample

  • AHoffGeolla
    (2020-01-09 20:38:26Z)

    present - buy online cialis retire buy generic cialis online car
    president - generic viagra buy viagra buy viagra online cite

  • AHoffGeolla
    (2020-01-19 23:36:58Z)

    routine - buy cialis perform buy cialis bite
    key - viagra online generic viagra best places to buy generic viagra enhance

  • AHoffGeolla
    (2020-01-21 02:27:14Z)

    consistent - cialis online organic cialis tadalafil olympic
    react - buy viagra viagra online buy viagra outcome

  • kcckzjhvrvvk
    (2020-03-11 15:41:41Z)

    tdbbhs buy sildenfil citrate in usa revatio vs viagra resource tdyign sidenafill viagra 50 mg price Continue

  • qkitemdjtxyz
    (2020-04-20 18:23:55Z)

    rwsmcf u.s. pharmacies sildenafil citrate sinldenafil additional resources geqloy such a good point viagra walmart visit your url

  • btwrgslptszp
    (2020-06-09 21:17:18Z)

    how to get viagra without a prescription Viagra viagra pills
    buy viagra from canada pharmacy viagra viagra from canadian pharmacies canadian pharcharmy online viagra canadian drugstore viagra

    viagra canadian viagra viagra online canadian viagra online canadian

  • hwuaaddmxopx
    (2020-06-10 17:46:31Z) sildenafil canadian pharmacy canadian viagra online pharmacy reviews canada generic viagra Viagra viagra canada online
    canada pharmacies online prescriptions Viagra drugs canada how does cialis work Viagra cialis generic
    cost of cialis at walmart pharmacy pfizer viagra online canada pharmacy canadian sources of cialis generic viagra canada pharmacy viagra viagra no prescription
    prescription prices viagra canada viagra canada canada

  • Marielitnyimdtaktm
    (2020-06-25 10:28:34Z)

    cialis with a prescription indian generic meds buy cialis from canada generic cialis without a doctor prescription cialis
    cialis no prescription 20 mg tadalafil ed pills without prescription cheap cialis cialis from canada
    no prescription for cialis cialis uses cialis online from canada generic cialis uk cialis on the internet
    what is cialis for men viagra versus cialis order cialis without doctor prescription cialis price comparison cialis from canada
    cialis 20mg coupon 5mg cialis cialis online canada free cialis trial buy cialis from canada

  • search md court casesir
    (2020-08-20 20:23:18Z)

    twvjsslqqxhg wa state court case search
    eams case search us district court case search 36th district court case search texas courts online case search

  • canadian pharmacy for viagra plzg
    (2020-10-08 05:16:20Z)

    buy cialis online canada pharmacy canadian rx pharmacy cialis usa pharmacy
    internet pharmacy canadian pharmacy-viagra canada online pharmacy cialis canada pharmacy online
    online pharmacy medications canadian pharmacy no prescription canadian pharmacies shipping usa canadian pharmacy cialis canadian pharmacy reviews

  • rmqyirkfvhgh
    (2020-11-19 18:33:25Z)

    rx online buy online cialis what is cialis free cialis trial
    walgreens cialis 20mg price crbd
    tadalafil generic walmart. cialis discount cialis cialis 5 mg price
    cialis cheap xwci
    cialis 100mg herbal cialis online pharmacies in usa generic cialis us
    cialis on-line ftld


Top News: Politics