President Trump Again Does the Right Thing for the Jewish People
I was honored to be present at the White House on the day President Trump signed an Executive Order protecting Jewish students from the harassment, bullying, and intimidation on American campuses coming primarily from Islamic student associations and leftwing professors and groups.
This harassment of Jewish students has been going on since the beginning of the Obama administration, and for all their supposed good intentions, the Obama presidency and the House under Nancy Pelosi never signed or passed an order or legislation to protect Jewish students on campus who are being uniquely targeted. Obama’s and Pelosi’s failure to stop this had resulted in an escalation and growing ferocity each succeeding academic year. I and some other Jewish leaders have spoken out and written about this calamity for years.
President Trump’s Executive Order does not attack free speech.
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Those who as a profession dislike Israel, and those who dislike Jews and use criticism of Israel to demonize Jews and Zionism remain free to spew forth their bias. What is now prohibited is the following: any speech that has as its goal the incendiary purpose of hostile and discriminatory actions against Jewish students. It is obvious that many of the Islamic and leftwing speakers on campus are fiercely prodding the audience to ostracize Jewish students from campus activities and clubs and to bully and physically and verbally intimidate Jewish students and invade their privacy by harassing them even in dormitories. The Islamic and leftwing groups scream and pound on locked doors where Jewish students congregate.
While the ACLU and other groups will go to court against the implementation of the Executive Order, there is no question that if a similar Executive Order were issued to protect black students or LGBTQIA students this would be heralded as a gesture against corrosive hate speech and a plea for tolerance and inclusivity.
There are some Never-Trumpers in the Jewish community who have condemned this Executive Order as anti-Semitic. These are the same people who condemned President Trump when moving our Embassy to Jerusalem as somehow anti-Israel. In their hatred for our President, they twist pro-Israel and pro-Jewish actions by Mr. Trump as anti-Jewish; yet they saw in former President Obama’s capitulation and giveaways to Iran something “pro-Israel”. Either their hate blinds them to common sense or their partisanship eases them into making lies for the sake of their political goals. No one should listen to them.
Groups such as J Street have come out against the Executive Order. It is obvious that J Street wishes the continuance on campus of unfettered anti-Israel pronouncements, calling Israel the worst names possible. Though criticism of Israel will certainly be allowed to continue, the Executive Order withholds federal funds when speakers advocate for the elimination of Israel or speak of it as an illegitimate state.
No one’s speech is outlawed; but federal funding will not be provided if speech is used to incite against and ostracize Jewish students or defame the very existence of the State of Israel. Federal funding should have long ago been halted to colleges whose deans and boards, in un-American fashion, continue to promote anti-Jewish campus Islamic groups and continue to hire leftwing professors known precisely for their work toward eliminating the Jewish State.
The Executive Order expands the definitions in Title VI of the Civil Rights Act to include discrimination based not only on race and color but also on ethnicity and nationality. By expanding these contours, aggressive Muslim and leftwing students will no longer be able to weasel out of their violence and guilt by claiming they are not against the Jewish religion. If they attack Jews for being Jews, they are attacking them as a people and members of a nationality. This, according to the President’s Order, is no longer tolerated on campuses wishing to receive federal funds.
Some leftwing Jewish detractors of the President hysterically condemned the President for expanding the definition of Jewishness beyond religion to include nationality. They are ignorant. Since it began, beyond being a religion, Jews were part of a people. They were called “The Jewish People.” The Bible, the Torah itself, refers to them as Am Yisrael, which means “the nation of Israel.” These same liberal Jews were against the recent legislation passed by the Knesset in Israel which labeled Israel a Jewish state and nation.
Our gratitude goes out to President Trump, who has been, without doubt, the greatest friend Israel and the Jewish people have ever had among our presidents and among world leaders. Those whose partisanship and hatred have blinded them should no longer be viewed as worthwhile or serious participants in our national conversation. Their toxicity should be contained to themselves. Let the nation be spared.
Rabbi Aryeh Spero is spokesman for the Conference of Jewish Affairs, president of Caucus For America, author of Push Back, and a frequent guest on Fox News.