he pandering by Donald Trump and those around him to Israel and to some conservative American Jews is apparently endless. Last Wednesday the president signed an executive order that is intended to address alleged anti-Semitism on college campuses by cutting off funds to those universities that do not prevent criticism of Israel. To provide a legal basis to defund, the administration is relying on title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits any discrimination based on race, color or national origin. Since the Act does not include religion, Trump’s order is declaring ipso facto that henceforth “Jewishness” is a nationality.
The executive order does not mention Israel by name, but it does state that its assumptions are based on “the non-legally binding working definition of anti-Semitism adopted on May 26, 2016, by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA), which states, ‘Antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities’; and (ii) the ‘Contemporary Examples of Anti-Semitism’ identified by the IHRA, to the extent that any examples might be useful as evidence of discriminatory intent.”
The IHRA “contemporary examples” supplementing the basic description are important. They considerably broaden the definition of anti-Semitism, to include “Accusing Jewish citizens of being more loyal to Israel, or to the alleged priorities of Jews worldwide, than to the interests of their own nations” and “claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor.” The examples also included holding Israel to a higher standard than other nations when criticizing it, and IHRA offers no possible mitigation even if the accusations are, in the case of the behavior of some Jews and of Israel, accurate.
Those who are confused because in the past expressions like “Italian” or “Irish” or “British” meant actual countries should recognize that Trump-speak never respects any connection with reality when there is political advantage just sitting out there waiting to be snatched and exploited. And that imperative is considerably multiplied when one is referring to either the state of Israel or of Jews in general, particularly as seen by the Trump White House, which clearly and repeatedly sends the message that it reveres both. Trump’s order will in effect constitute a government-promoted argument that Jews are a people or a race with a collective national origin, like Italian or Polish Americans, an assertion that clearly is untrue.
In fact, suppressing criticism of Israel on college campuses using a “weaponized” claim of anti-Semitism has long been a major foreign policy objective of the Israeli government even though nonviolent assembly and free speech are guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. Congress has several times considered a comprehensive Anti-Semitism Awareness Act, though it has not passed due to legitimate free speech concerns. The nonviolent Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (B.D.S.), which is very active on American campuses, has been particularly targeted and criticism of it is frequent in the media and from Congress while also emanating from the White House. As most accredited colleges receive federal funding, which can be considerable at a major research university, the executive order will create a major dilemma over how to respond, particularly for those schools that have Middle East study programs.
Work on the presidential executive order was initiated in the summer inside the White House by a team led by Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, together with his close aide special assistant to the president Avi Berkowitz. They sought to develop a formula whereby government policy would equate anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism, and Donald Trump both agreed with that assessment and followed through on it. On December 8th he promised to take action against B.D.S. and other critics in a speech delivered before the Israeli-American Council. The speech is worth reading in full by anyone who is concerned that the United States now has a government that favors one already privileged, wealthy and powerful constituency in particular and is not committed to upholding the civil liberties of all Americans.
Israel is an apartheid state. Covering up for its crimes against humanity as well as its war crimes is something of a growth industry in the United States, with Zionist billionaire oligarchs launching new foundations on a regular basis. Jewish power in the U.S. means that Israel always has been given a pass, even when it deliberately attacked and sought to sink the U.S.S. Liberty, an American Naval vessel in international waters in 1967. Thirty-four crewman died in the assault. The subsequent investigation of the attack was whitewashed by the president, secretary of state and the Navy department while the survivors were threatened with imprisonment if they revealed what had occurred. That is how a powerful and ruthless Israel acting through its traitorous domestic proxies operates and it illustrates how feeble the Establishment is in standing up to it.
This latest outrage, in which free speech and association will be denied to benefit one group on the basis of its claimed perpetual victimhood, had its genesis earlier this year when the federal government’s Education Department ordered Duke University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to reorganize the Consortium for Middle East Studies program run jointly by the two colleges in part based on their failure to include enough “positive” content relating to Judaism. The demand came with a threat to suspend federal funding of Title VI Higher Education Act international studies and foreign language grants to the two schools if the curriculum were not changed.