Administration

Trump to sign order penalizing colleges over perceived anti-Semitism on campus: report

President Trump is expected to sign an executive order Wednesday targeting perceived anti-Semitism on college campuses that would in effect treat Judaism as a national identity as well as a religious or ethnic one, according to The New York Times.

The order would empower the Department of Education to potentially withhold funding from campuses for insufficient action on anti-Semitism if they fail to combat anti-Israel rhetoric, the newspaper reported.

The order echoes legislation with bipartisan support, currently stalled in Congress, that targets the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement.

It includes in its definition of anti-Semitism "denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination," citing "claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor" as an example, according to the Times, citing three White House officials.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has stepped up department enforcement against perceived anti-Israel bias in recent months, including ordering Duke University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to redesign their joint Middle East studies program.

Trump will be joined by Sens. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) and James Lankford (R-Okla.) as well as Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.) for the signing, the Times reported. Democrats including Rep. Jerrold Nadler (N.Y.), a proponent of the equivalent legislation who as chair of the House Judiciary Committee is leading impeachment efforts against Trump, is not expected to be present, according to the newspaper.

Free speech advocates and critics of both the executive order and the legislation have argued it could treat any criticism of the Israeli government or statements in support of Palestinian rights as anti-Semitic.

It also comes as Trump himself has been criticized for comments suggesting Jewish Americans owe Israel their loyalty, saying in a recent speech to the Israeli-American Council, "You have people that are Jewish people, that are great people - they don't love Israel enough."

The speech was condemned by left-leaning Jewish organizations, with the advocacy group J Street tweeting that Trump was "incapable of addressing Jewish audiences without dipping into the deep well of anti-Semitic tropes that shape his worldview."  

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