President Donald Trump is expected to sign an executive order on Dec. 11 to combat anti-Semitism on college campuses by defining Judaism as both a nationality and religion.
According to The New York Times and Jerusalem Post, by defining Judaism as a nationality and a religion anti-Semitism will now be under the purview of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act. Under that law, federal funding can be withheld from institutions that engaging in discrimination.
The executive order will use the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of anti-Semitism, which states that criticism of Israel that delegitimizes and demonizes the Jewish state and engages in double-standards is anti-Semitic.
A senior administration official told the Jerusalem Post, “We began to focus on this issue in the late winter/spring of this year when we were alarmed frankly at a rise in anti-Semitic rhetoric, including unfortunately from leading political figures. We looked at the data, and we saw that there’d been a rise in anti-Semitic incidents, and we began a policy process to figure out physically what we could do on the subject.”
Associate Dean and Director of Global Social Action at the Simon Wiesenthal Center Rabbi Abraham Cooper said in a statement, “[The executive order] will have an immediate impact on US campuses plagued with anti-Semitic and extreme anti-Israel acts, where many University officials complained that the lack of a working definition of anti-Semitism hampered efforts to deal with anti-Semitic incidents on campus. Now, through this executive order, necessitated by Congress’ failure to pass legislation, university officials and Jewish students will be better equipped to deal with hate attacks often associated with the anti-Israel [boycott, divestment and sanctions] campaigns.”
Lawfare Project Executive Director Brooke Goldstein similarly said in a statement provided to the Journal, “Today, the President of the United States is expected to announce a groundbreaking Executive Order that acknowledges Judaism as a nationality—not just a religion—which for the first time grants Jewish people the same protections every other ethnic minority enjoys under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act. The reality of the Jewish heritage and national identity has long been recognized, but has not been codified into law until today. This comes on the heels of repeated incidents of anti-Jewish discrimination on college campuses across the country. The Lawfare Project has been on the frontlines of the fight against this type of discrimination with our Campus Civil Rights Project and our groundreaking civil rights lawsuits, and welcomes this historic step from the Trump administration. While we don’t yet know the exact text of the order, we applaud the concept of granting Jews equal rights under the law.”
Republican Jewish Coalition Chairman Norm Coleman also praised the executive order in a statement.
“President Trump has shown himself to be the most pro-Jewish president as well,” Coleman said. “Today’s executive order will have a real, positive impact in protecting Jewish college students from anti-Semitism.”
"President Trump has shown himself to be the most pro-Jewish President as well. Today’s executive order will have a real, positive impact in protecting Jewish college students from anti-Semitism." – RJC National Chairman, @normcoleman pic.twitter.com/m53DHgd5lc
— RJC (@RJC) December 10, 2019
However, there has been a huge outcry on social media about an executive order that classifies people as Jewish over being classified as Americans.
Leah Litman, an assistant law professor at the University of Michigan, tweeted:
is this what we're calling an executive order that purports to define american jews as … some nationality other than american? pic.twitter.com/Q8qJBV152m
— Leah Litman (@LeahLitman) December 11, 2019
Jewish Democratic Council of America Executive Director Halie Soifer tweeted that the executive order is “attempt to gloss over his anti-Semitism & direct role in our rising insecurity.”
Less than 72 hrs after calling Jews killers, accusing Jews of not loving Israel enough, and repeating dangerous anti-Semitic stereotypes, Trump does this. Coincidence? NO. Attempt to gloss over his anti-Semitism & direct role in our rising insecurity? YES. https://t.co/Wl3bv1Amm7
— Halie Soifer (@HalieSoifer) December 10, 2019