By COLlive reporter
Yet another Chanukah gift from the White House…
President Donald Trump will be signing an executive order to interpret Judaism as a nationality and not just a religion in an effort to provide stronger protections for Jewish college students against anti-Semitism on campus.
The order, lobbied for by Trump’s adviser and son in law Jared Kushner, is expected to be signed on Wednesday during the annual Chanukah celebration at the White House.
Legislation to enact this policy has been sponsored by a broad set of bipartisan leaders including Senators Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Bob Casey (D-Penn.), Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.), and Roy Blunt (R-Mo.); and Reps. Ted Deutch (D-Fla.), Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) and many others. Yet, it has failed to pass Congress.
The order comes at a time when Jewish students are increasingly being targeted on campuses across the United States both for their religion and because of anti-Israel sentiment fomented by the anti-Semitic Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel campaign. Under the Executive Order, schools could lose federal funding if they don’t take action against discrimination targeting Jewish students.
This step by the president is aligned with proposed legislation that would mandate protections for Jewish students by amending Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, ethnicity or national origin by schools that receive federal funds. The statute, however, doesn’t specifically address anti-Semitism; the Executive Order will define Judaism as an ethnic group in addition to a religious one, and thus, attacks on Jewish students can be considered a federal civil rights violation.
The Simon Wiesenthal Center commended the order, tweeting that it “sends a global message at a time of surging #antisemitism on both sides of Atlantic.”
Israel’s Foreign Minister, Yisrael Katz, also welcomed the upcoming announcement and called on other countries to follow the Trump administration’s lead. “These are significant steps in the ongoing fight against antisemitism and the BDS movement on college campuses,” Katz said in a statement Tuesday evening, CNN reported.
“We are grateful to President Trump for taking this important action that not only recognizes but also provides a course of legal action against the scourge of anti-Semitism that has for too long been festering on our nation’s college campuses,” said Orthodox Union President Mark (Moishe) Bane stated. “Those who seek to use our academic institutions as places to stoke anti-Jewish sentiment are now on notice: There will be consequences for their racism.”