President Donald Trump signed an executive order yesterday to block federal aid from universities that allow anti-Semitism, but the move sparked some criticism that it might limit freedom of expression.
This decree extends the definition adopted by the Ministry of Education for anti-Semitism with regard to the application of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
In particular, the text orders the Ministry of Education to adopt in its definition of anti-Semitism the definition adopted by the "International Holocaust Memory Alliance".
"This is our message to universities: If you want to take advantage of the huge sums that you receive every year from the federal government, you have to reject anti-Semitism," Trump said during a ceremony at the White House marking the Jewish "lights".
Article VI of the Civil Rights Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of race or color in programs and activities that obtain federal financial assistance.
|Part of the meeting that Trump held on the occasion of the Jewish "lights" (Reuters)|
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"This measure makes clear that Article VI of the Civil Rights Act, which prohibits the channeling of federal funds to universities and other institutions that discriminate, applies to institutions that release hatred through anti-Semitism," Trump said.
In an article written by Jared Kushner, Trump's son-in-law and adviser in The New York Times, he said that with this decree "Donald Trump defends Jewish students" and "clearly indicates that anti-Semitism will not be tolerated."
But freedom of expression advocates fear that a broad and vague definition of anti-Semitism will be used to prohibit any criticism of Israeli government policy.
Jeremy Ben-Ami, head of the Progressive Jewish Organization, said that the decree "does not appear to aim to fight anti-Semitism as much as it aims to restrict freedom of expression and prevent criticism of Israel at universities."