The US-based group Jewish Voice for Peace issued the following statement in response to Donald Trump’s latest executive order.
Their statment reads as follows:
The impending Executive Order by President Trump will do nothing to make Jewish students safer on college campuses, and Jewish Voice for Peace is appalled at this blatant attempt to silence criticism of Israel.
Trump’s Executive Order allegedly targeting campus antisemitism is the culmination of decades of attempts by anti-Palestinian organizations to suppress Palestinian organizing, advocacy, research and teaching on college campuses. The EO, which would codify a dangerous and overly broad definition of antisemitism into federal civil rights law, fails to offer any protection to Jewish students. Instead, it will usher in a climate of fear on college campuses, where university administrations will be incentivized to silence student activism, faculty research, and teaching about Palestine – while white supremacist organizing, which has been steadily increasing under Trump, will go unchecked.
This EO essentially duplicates legislation that has failed to garner bipartisan support in the House or Senate for years. Opposition to the so-called “Anti-Semitism Awareness Act” has grown steadily, including objections from activists and free speech groups. Most recently, over 250 Jewish students opposed the 2019 act. In 2016, over 60 Jewish Studies professors, and over 300 Jewish students, opposed this definition. When this definition was proposed by anti-Palestinian activists to the University of California in 2015, over 300 UC faculty came out in opposition, along with the LA Times editorial board, American Civil Liberties Union, and California Scholars for Academic Freedom.
The EO relies on the work of Kenneth Marcus, the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights in the Department of Education. Marcus, and his organization the Brandeis Center, has long harassed students and faculty who disagree with his extremist and right-wing views on Israel. He openly advocates for defunding Middle East studies departments who are too critical of Israeli policy, and has, in his capacity as head of the Brandeis Center, gone after individual students who protest Israeli actions.