Anti-Semitism: Redefined by Trump’s order
President Trump’s new executive order “will not protect anyone against anti-Semitism, and it’s not intended to,” said Masha Gessen in NewYorker.com. Last week the president instructed the Department of Education to withhold federal funds from colleges that fail to police anti-Semitism, with Judaism included for the first time as a protected class under the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The point of the order was to establish an “absurdly” broad definition of anti-Semitism to include opposition to the state of Israel or its policies, such as that voiced by the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement popular on some campuses. Under this new policy, criticism of the current Israeli government’s policy of “apartheid” for Palestinians qualifies as hate speech. This “deeply authoritarian” formulation is already having its desired effect, said Jesse Singal in NYMag.com. Duke University and the University of North Carolina recently remade their joint Middle East studies program because the Trump administration decided it was biased against Israel. Do we really want the government to decide what speech is permitted about the heated Israeli-Palestinian conflict?
Jewish students deserve the same protection as other minorities, said Jonathan Marks in CommentaryMagazine.com. The surge of campus anti-Semitism goes far beyond debating the Israel-Palestine conflict, with anti-Zionists attacking Jewish students simply for having a “favorable” view of Israel. A Jewish student at George Washington University recently described how peers taunt him for being an “apartheid enabler.” That kind of hostility can’t go “unchecked,” said John Podhoretz in the New York Post. Title VI of the Civil Rights Act denies federal funding to institutions that discriminate on the basis of race or national origin. It should apply to Jews too: We “occupy a unique status” as members of a faith, “an ethnicity,” and “a tribe.” Unfortunately, liberal Jews blinded by their Trump hatred attacked him for this “act of solidarity.”
Solidarity? asked Clarence Page in the Chicago Tribune. Days before signing this order, Trump called Jewish businesspeople “brutal killers” and “not nice people at all,” and said they had to support him, even if they don’t like him, to protect their “wealth.” Portraying Jews as greedy, unethical businessmen is about as anti-Semitic as it gets. Trump may support Israel, but under his presidency white-supremacist groups have flourished and incidents of anti-Semitism are on the rise. Reasonable people may ask: “Could President Trump be charged under his own executive order?” ■