December 13, 2019

Anti-Semitism EO

On Wednesday, President Donald Trump signed an Executive Order aimed at combating anti-Semitism on college campuses. The order states, “While Title VI does not cover discrimination based on religion, individuals who face discrimination on the basis of race, color, or national origin do not lose protection under Title VI for also being a member of a group that shares common religious practices. Discrimination against Jews may give rise to a Title VI violation when the discrimination is based on an individual’s race, color, or national origin.” White House

On Tuesday, the New York Times reported that the EO would define Judaism as a nationality. This was incorrect, and the original story has since been edited to reflect this. Twitter, New York Times

See past issues

From the Left

The left is skeptical of Trump’s motives, citing his previous comments about Jews, and worries that the executive order will be used to stifle criticism of Israel.

“President Trump has regularly and repeatedly suggested that America is not the country of American Jews. Israel is ‘your country,’ he says, and Netanyahu is ‘your prime minister’... Just a few days ago, Trump proffered a cavalcade of anti-Semitic stereotypes in a speech before the Israeli American Council, lambasting American Jews for their insufficient love of both him and Israel, calling Jews ‘not nice people’ who would nonetheless be compelled to vote Republican in order to protect their wealth…

“That the same administration that has cried about ‘free speech on campus’ when it comes to protecting the rights of racist provocateurs like Milo Yiannopoulos is suddenly a lot more invested in student safety when it might help suppress pro-Palestinian protests provokes fears that it primarily sees the charge of anti-Semitism as a tool to bludgeon wayward Democrats.”
David Schraub, The Atlantic

“The draft text suggests concerns about treating Jews as non-Americans were overblown. But is also is a sign that the Trump administration might be willing to expand ongoing efforts to attack the speech rights of Palestinian campuses on campus, an extension of an illiberal trend in organized pro-Israel advocacy that should trouble all of us…

“The Trump Department of Education has already launched several investigations into pro-Palestinian campus speech under the auspices of Title VI. It’s possible this could escalate after the executive order. ‘In the last year alone, the Department of Education has launched investigations into alleged anti-Semitism at Rutgers University, Duke University, the University of North Carolina, and Williams College… If found to have enabled anti-Semitism on campus, these universities could forfeit millions of dollars in federal funding. Yet, in each case, the ‘anti-Semitic’ speech being investigated is criticism of Israel.’”
Zack Beauchamp and Ian Millhiser, Vox

“Mr. Trump’s executive order points agencies to the definition of anti-Semitism prepared by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance. This definition includes several examples of speech that should be covered by the First Amendment, like ‘claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor.’ For this reason Kenneth Stern, the lead author of the definition, wrote in The Times that it shouldn’t be applied to higher education. The agency’s definition was prepared for data collectors writing reports in Europe, not for government officials policing campus speech.”
Editorial Board, New York Times

Some, however, note that “The order only directs agencies to consider the IHRA’s list ‘to the extent that any examples might be useful as evidence of discriminatory intent.’ In other words, applying double standards to Israel alone would not trigger a Title VI investigation. Instead, the IHRA’s list would only come into play after an individual is accused of overt anti-Semitism with an ethnic component, and then only as evidence of bigoted intent…

“In fact, it’s unclear whether Wednesday’s order will have any impact, given that it mostly just reaffirms the current law… It restates the federal government’s long-standing interpretation of Title VI to encompass some anti-Jewish bias. And it raises the faint possibility that, in some case down the road, a student’s sharp criticism of Israel may be used as evidence of anti-Semitic intent after he has been accused of targeting Jews because of their perceived race or nationality. Is this order red meat for Republicans who believe colleges are increasingly hostile to Jews? Probably. Will it quash the pro-Palestine movement on campuses or impose an unwanted classification on American Jews? Absolutely not.”
Mark Joseph Stern, Slate

From the Right

The right generally supports the executive order, and criticizes the erroneous reporting by the New York Times.

The right generally supports the executive order, and criticizes the erroneous reporting by the New York Times.

“Juxtapose the treatment of an actual anti-Semitic attack by two black perpetrators affiliated with a black supremacist group with the media and Twitter Left’s treatment of Donald Trump’s executive order (EO) targeting anti-Semitism on college campuses. Trump’s EO is merely an extension of longstanding bipartisan policy that suggests that Jews ought to be protected on college campuses by Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964…

“Even if the EO had labeled Jews a ‘nationality,’ that would have been perfectly in line with Jewish law and tradition. Jews are not merely a religious group. They are in fact a group with shared ancestry, a shared culture, and a shared history. You can join the group by converting, but while religious and philosophic Judaism is a key component of Jewish identity — and the most key component when it comes to standing to speak on Jewish issues, generally — Jewishness isn’t just religion.”
Ben Shapiro, Daily Wire

“This is one of those journalistic errors that would not have been made if not for the left-leaning media’s pre-existing hostility to Trump. If the Times had been told a similar story about an EO to be issued by President Obama (and this appears to be based on Obama-era policy) the paper would have carefully checked the ‘nationality’ claim before printing it. But because Trump is presumed to have bad intent at all times, they ran with an explosive claim that wasn’t true. Great work, guys! I wonder why so many Americans don’t trust the media?”
John Sexton, Hot Air

“Trump’s EO ‘Combating Anti-Semitism’ arrives as antisemitism continues to proliferate on college campuses, largely under the guise of ‘anti-Zionism.’ Just a few weeks ago, a former Israeli soldier arrived at Vassar to deliver a speech and was met by raucous protesters from the school’s chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine. The crowd enthusiastically chanted, ‘from the river to the sea,’ a popular anti-Zionist refrain that advocates for the ethnic cleansing of Jews from the nation of Israel… In 2014, members of NYU’s SJP chapter sent out fake eviction notices to Jewish students at NYU in order to ‘protest Israeli policies.’ Just last year, they crashed an Israeli Independence Day event, stole the flags, and burned them.”
Erielle Davidson, The Federalist

Some note that “Civil liberties groups have raised alarms that the executive order could suppress constitutionally protected speech. They’re right to be concerned… Vile, hateful, and racist words are constitutionally-protected forms of expression. As the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education states, ‘[T]he definition [of anti-Semitism] and examples reach core political speech protected by the First Amendment’...

“The order would be far better if it did not refer to a list of anti-Semitic ideas—even if the ideas in that list are vile. Title VI is aimed at conduct, not speech. The bottom line is relatively simple—since Jews are being targeted on the basis of their ‘shared ancestry,’ they should receive protection under Title VI, but extending that protection does not repeal a single syllable of the First Amendment. Title VI can and should exist in harmony with free speech, and the administration should revise its draft order to remove the possibility that universities will use it to impose new speech codes on students and faculty.”
David French, The Dispatch

Others posit that “The latest executive order is a welcome way of addressing well-founded concerns about anti-Semitism and discrimination on campus. As with other executive orders, it’s possible that the government will interpret and enforce it in a over-bearing way. However, there is no reason to assume that it will… It’s worth noting in this regard that Trump has already signed an executive order protecting free speech on campus.”
Paul Mirengoff, Power Line Blog

Get troll-free political news.

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.