President Donald Trump is expected to sign an executive order on Wednesday instructing the Department of Education to consider the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of anti-Semitism, which equates some criticism of Israel and Zionism with anti-Semitism, in evaluating discrimination complaints from university students.
Title VI of the Civil Rights Act forbids discrimination on the basis of race, color and national origin at colleges and universities that receive federal funding. This means that colleges that allow anti-Semitic behavior on their campuses, most notably from Students for Justice for Palestine (SJP), would risk losing their federal funding.
The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of anti-Semitism includes Accusing Jewish citizens of being more loyal to Israel, or to the alleged priorities of Jews worldwide, than to the interests of their own nations; Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor; and Applying double standards by requiring of it a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation.
Former Senator Norm Coleman (R- Minnesota), who heads the Republican Jewish Coalition, said the Trump order would come down as “a truly historic and important moment for Jewish Americans.” Coleman said Trump is “the most pro-Jewish President” in US history.
A White House official told several media outlets that the executive order was needed in response to the appalling rise in the number of on-campus anti-Semitic incidents. The White House expects that Jewish students who have been persecuted and discriminated against for their religion will now enjoy the same protection as African-American students.
The Guardian on Wednesday cited free-speech advocates who are concerned that widening the definition of anti-Semitism would be used to limit criticism of the Israeli government. This reporter suggests that as long as criticism of Israel does not involve blatant lies about “apartheid” and the systematic murder of thousands of Palestinian children, free speech is safe.