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It’s Time To Implement Trump’s Executive Order On “Combating Anti-Semitism” – Our Letter to the Department of Education

It’s Time To Implement Trump’s Executive Order On “Combating Anti-Semitism” – Our Letter to the Department of Education

Among other things, Trump EO 13899 directed that the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism be taken into account in enforcing Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

President Biden’s Education Department is still futzing around without addressing campus anti-Semitism. True to form, the Middle East Studies Association (MESA) is urging DOE to continue ignoring the problem. In  letter to DOE, Legal Insurrection Foundation (LIF) has urged DOE to address anti-Semitism as soon as possible by implementing President Trump’s Executive Order on Combating Anti-Semitism.

Back in 2019, then-President Trump signed Executive Order 13899, entitled “Combating Anti-Semitism.” EO 13899 basically suggested that anti-Semitic discrimination was or could be prohibited under existing federal law because it is, or often is, also racial or ethnic discrimination. Think of the Nazis, who murdered Jews because they allegedly belonged to an inferior race. More to the point, think of today’s Israel-haters, who discriminate against Jews because of their ethnic ties to Israel.

Executive Order 13899, signed December 11, 2019 [Click on image to see document.]

For legal geeks looking for a more detailed explanation, EO 13899 directed that the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism be taken into account in enforcing Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Title VI prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, and national origin in programs and activities receiving federal funding, and is the go-to provision used to enforce anti-discrimination rules in education; but it doesn’t specifically prohibit religious discrimination. The EO states:

While Title VI does not cover discrimination based on religion, individuals who face discrimination on the basis of race, color, or national origin do not lose protection under Title VI for also being a member of a group that shares common religious practices. Discrimination against Jews may give rise to a Title VI violation when the discrimination is based on an individual’s race, color, or national origin.

President Biden hasn’t revoked EO 13899, for which we should all be grateful. But Biden’s DOE hasn’t enforced it either. It’s put off even revising its administrative regulations to implement the executive order until December 2022.

MESA, which has all-but abandoned its academic mission in favor of an pursuing an obsessive-compulsive vendetta against Israel, wrote to DOE trashing the very idea of EO 13899 on the false premise that it “would constitute a serious threat both to academic freedom and to the First Amendment right of free speech at this country’s institutions of higher education.” Why? Because the IHRA definition would allegedly define criticism of Israel or of Zionism as anti-Semitism.

That’s false. The IHRA definition explicitly doesn’t do that. What it explicitly says is, “criticism of Israel similar to that leveled against any other country cannot be regarded as antisemitic.”

What it does say is, unfairly targeting Israel as by “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,” are examples of anti-Semitism.

Why would MESA oppose such a fair-minded definition of anti-Semitism? Why, because MESA is not fair-minded about Israel, and crosses the line into anti-Semitism by denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, applying double standards to Israel, and so forth.

Beyond, that MESA has done everything possible to chill speech in favor of Israel, and to hound its supporters off campus. Its attempt to wrap itself in the mantle of protecting “free speech” and the “First Amendment” is laughable.

LIF letter to DOE Assistant Secretary Catherine Llahmon, dated August 17, 2022 [Click on image to see document.]

To counterbalance MESA’s missive, LIF founder and president William Jacobson and I sent our own letter to DOE. We said EO 13899 would help fight anti-Semitism, and DOE should implement it without delay. Here’s an excerpt (with footnotes omitted):

Much contemporary anti-Semitism poses as obsessive hatred of the State of Israel. The world’s only Jewish state is portrayed as uniquely lacking the right to exist. That is anti-Semitism in and of itself, but even if it were not, anti-“Zionism” easily slips over into obvious anti-Semitism. A report by the AMCHA Initiative documented an alarming correlation between anti-Zionism and actions intended to harm Jewish students. Similarly, the Anti-Defamation League (“ADL”) reported that for academic year 2020-21:

ADL experts identified a pattern of anti-Israel groups and activists blatantly demonizing pro-Israel and Zionist students, which disproportionately impacted Jewish students. Occasionally, these activists espoused antisemitic tropes, such as those alleging Jewish or Zionist power and control over the media and political affairs. Such language can create a corrosive climate for many Jewish students on campus. ADL’s Center on Extremism, which monitors anti-Israel activities across the country, found this language primarily came from a handful of student activist organizations that often work in concert to spread anti-Israel and anti-Zionist messages on U.S. college campus.

A joint Hillel-ADL survey from 2021 found that almost a third of Jewish students had experienced anti-Semitism directed at them, and another 31 percent of Jewish students witnessed on-campus anti-Semitic activity directed against others. Fifteen percent of Jewish students reported that they felt the need to hide their Jewish identity from others on campus, and 12 percent said they had been blamed for the actions of the Israeli government because they are Jewish.

We also offered a little background about MESA (again, with footnotes omitted):

MESA is now just an anti-Israel political lobbying group

We are aware that MESA has submitted a contrary letter to you. MESA has sacrificed its claim to being a credible academic organization in order to become an anti-Israel political advocacy group. Over the course of several years, anti-Israel academic activists systematically took it over, leading many moderate and pro-Israel members to drop their membership or participation. (Under the leadership of leading scholars Bernard Lewis and Fouad Ajami, a number of academics saw where MESA was headed and decamped from it back in 2007 to form a separate academic association – the Association for the Study of Middle Eastern and Africa (“ASMEA”) – which has remained rigorous and non-political.)

In 2017, MESA even amended its bylaws to remove the word “non-political” from its Nature and Objectives, removing an impediment to its endorsing anti-Israel statements. Earlier this year, MESA adopted a pro-BDS resolution. That is, a supposed academic organization whose mandate concerns the study of the Middle East has endorsed boycotting a Middle Eastern country.

MESA’s Committee on Academic Freedom (“CAF”) regularly bashes Israel and, to a lesser extent, Arab countries such as Egypt that have made peace with Israel. Since 2017, MESA’s CAF has had little to say about Arab dictatorships that regularly abuse their people – unless they happen to have made peace with Israel, or (like the Saudis) to have quietly supported Arab countries making peace with Israel. As for the Palestinian Authority, MESA’s Committee on Academic Freedom has not seen fit to issue any complaints to the Palestinian Authority about its security police “invading” West Bank universities, violating Palestinian students’ protest rights by using force to disperse protesters, arresting ten students into a corrupt judicial system, failing to keep campuses as “safe spaces” by maintaining order on campus, or periodically shutting them down, all of which has happened in the past academic year.

We concluded by urging DOE to act quickly to confront the rising tide of anti-Jewish discrimination on campus. The full letter is available here.

[Featured Image: “Pro-Palestinian” gang seeks out and attacks Jews in Los Angeles, May 2021]


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It’s much bigger than anti-semitism. It’s all of Judeo-Christianity. They are going after everything necessary to maintain a thriving, peaceful civilization. The chaos is spreading to all corners.

    The Gentle Grizzly in reply to Pasadena Phil. | August 20, 2022 at 10:57 am

    I’m in 100% agreement.

      I am not about the recommendation since everyone is being threatened as a different religion or race so we need make sure everyone is fighting and getting organized to defend themselves. These are the “dots”. Then we connect the dots by throwing lifelines to each other to stand as one. Makes for a more robust and solid line of defense. Jews certainly have to get their act together but so do the Christians. I’m a Catholic in despair over having a communist Pope and left-leaning American churches who refuse to fight. After that, it gets worse with the various protestant denominations who have embraced leftist principles. So everyone needs to organize their own “dots”.

        The Gentle Grizzly in reply to Pasadena Phil. | August 20, 2022 at 3:50 pm

        I meant your comment.

        gmac124 in reply to Pasadena Phil. | August 20, 2022 at 4:45 pm

        I agree with your first comment. Your second comment was good until you started trying to drag the Catholic church into your fight. For one thing the church has a completely different mission. It’s job is to save your “soul”. It doesn’t matter what kind of secular government you have, it’s mission and how it goes about that mission doesn’t change. As for your attack on Pope Francis, have you even read the Bible? Go read acts and other areas of the new testament about how the early Christians lived. Everything was communal, nobody had their own property. Why would the Pope have a different attitude? The founding fathers seen the conflict in missions and how it affected countries in Europe. That is why they made a separation between church and state. Why are you trying to remove that wall?

        P.S. this is not a defense of the church/Pope. It is more about keeping them separate as most Americans think they should be.

    henrybowman in reply to Pasadena Phil. | August 20, 2022 at 2:59 pm

    “It’s all of Judeo-Christianity.”
    It’s true. The supply chain is now failing to deliver my order of Jewish rosaries.

If you want to understand the depth of the Biden Administration’s antisemitism, please see this:

“Think of the Nazis, who murdered Jews because they allegedly belonged to an inferior race.”

It was because they weaken the country. Cleverness was a problem, not an inferiority. Sly is the cliche.

Dems are the party of anti-semitism. And systemic racism, slavery, socialism etc., etc.

If it has anything to do with President Trump, rest assured that the vile Dhimmi-crats will reflexively reject it, even if this Executive Order has obvious value in combating Dhimmi-crats’ increasingly brazen and unabashed Jew-hate, and, even if the Order is undeniably laudable as a matter of morality and government policy.

We all know that the SJW government we have will never even consider enforcing this EO.

It is a very interesting letter, and LIF deserves credit for making its letter public. However, the letter does not address directly the academic freedom argument. I can see the Department of Education’s rule mandating statistical reporting of antisemitic episodes and having on-campus coordinators. However, I would disagree with any federal mandate of curriculum or syllabus disclosures.

I understand that LIF is tactically waiting for the Department of Education to make a specific proposal before offering its own critique.

They can’t enforce it because behind the scenes it’s their allies that are making the troubles.

They would be exposed. It’s probably also the reason that Emperor Biden didn’t revoke it like all the other Trump EOs.

BierceAmbrose | August 22, 2022 at 2:52 pm

All oppressed minorities are protected, but some are more protected than others.