White House order directs federal agencies to “consider” a controversial definition of anti-Semitism in investigating civil rights complaints at college campuses.
President Trump on Wednesday signed an executive order focused on anti-Semitism on college campuses, drawing praise from some quarters and concerns from others about implications for free speech on campuses.
The executive order instructs agencies to “consider” a definition of anti-Semitism from the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance in investigating complaints of discrimination under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The IHRA definition is controversial in higher education because it encompasses some forms of anti-Israel speech.
The definition includes a list of various forms that contemporary anti-Semitism can take. Such forms include “denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor,” or “applying double standards by requiring of it a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation.” The definition states, however, that “criticism of Israel similar to that leveled against any other country cannot be regarded as antisemitic.”