Today, it has been reported that U.S. President Donald J. Trump will sign an Executive Order to define Judaism as a nationality, not just a religion, in order to bolster the U.S. Department of Education’s efforts to stamp out the BDS and “Boycott Israel” movements on U.S. college campuses.
IMHO, this is trying to kill a fly with a bazooka.
To me, it makes Jewish students appear to be snowflakes who are too weak to handle opinions that differ from their own on American college campuses. If Jewish students are physically attacked or threatened, there are ample laws already in existence that can be enforced. And if a student does not gain admission to a school and wants to rely on this order to file a complaint, it merely reinforces the easy excuse and reliance on “victimhood.”
It makes me feel as if Jewish leaders are trying to quell free speech. One should not fight hate by limiting speech.
By adding anti-Israel statements to the definition of anti-Semitism, it also opens the gates to forcing the U.S. Department of Education to weigh whether a professor’s or a student’s comments about Israel in a class is anti-Israel or just an uncomfortable analysis or fact.
“This is our message to universities: If you want to accept the tremendous amount of federal dollars that you get every year, you must reject anti-Semitism,” Trump said during a Hanukkah reception at the White House where he signed the executive order.
The reported expectation that the order will be signed in front of only invited partisan Republican leaders sends a message that this is mainly a political ploy.
Some macher somewhere, probably not on a campus, probably twice the age of the average student, thinks that they can silence those minority student groups that are anti-Semitic, or using a disguise of anti-Zionism to pursue hate, with this executive order, then they are ignorant of the better, more effective, but harder ways to build relationships with others in order to confront opposing ideas and groups.
Actually, the driving force behind this is Attorney Kenneth L. Marcus, the head of the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights, who in 2011 founded the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law in order to advance the rights of Jewish people.
In the words of ZIONESS, “…Attempts to define us in certain ways or as members of certain categories or classes of people do not end well for the Jewish people, and it is difficult for us to find comfort in any action by an American President who singles out marginalized group after marginalized group, consistently propagates classical antisemitic tropes, and cozies up to white nationalists––including within the senior ranks of his own administration…”
The order could require schools to treat anti-Israel groups as discriminatory or else lose federal funding. The executive order leverages a portion of the U.S. Civil Rights Act of 1964 that protects Muslim, Hindu and Sikh students, and requires educational institutions receiving federal funding to not discriminate based on national origin.
Jonathan Greenblatt, the CEO of the Anti-Defamation League said the executive order “reaffirms protection” of Jews. I would reply that there are existing laws to combat hate, and a reaffirmation is not needed, especially from a president who plays ball with white nationalists and enjoys speaking to Jewish groups about their wealth and money.
The State of Israel and The Simon Wiesenthal Center applauded the planned order. But, their leader of the Center, who was present at Trump’s speech to the Israeli American Council on Saturday evening, mostly ignored the president’s use of anti-Semitic tropes.