President Donald Trump on Wednesday is expected to sign an executive order withholding funds from American colleges and universities that tolerate anti-Semitic behavior on campus.
A senior official said that the order falls under provisions of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which guarantees equal protections against discrimination to people who face anti-Semitism on college campuses.
The order effectively interprets Judaism not simply as a religious choice but also as a race or nationality in an effort to promote federal laws that punish institutions of higher education for failing to respond to anti-Semitic behavior, The New York Times reported.
The order “just explains if an incident is anti-Semitic it could fall into a Title 6 violation,” an official told Reuters, referring to Title 6 of the law which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, and national origin in programs and activities receiving federal financial assistance.
“Just because someone is Jewish doesn’t mean they should be punished and not receive the same protections for discrimination under Title 6,” the official said.
The order comes as incidents of anti-Semitism are remaining steady on college campuses around the U.S., data show.
The Anti-Defamation League said it recorded 201 incidents of anti-Semitism in 2018, down from 204 incidents in 2017.
The administration’s move also comes as support is growing on campuses for the pro-Palestinian, anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement as a punishment of the Jewish state over its Palestinian policies.
The BDS movement, however, has recently received a bipartisan rebuke in Congress, which has led to many states around the country passing measures sanctioning the group.
The senior administration official said the president’s order would emphasize that Title 6 will comply with the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of anti-Semitism, which says it may include “targeting of the state of Israel.”