Donald Trump Threatens To Muzzle Criticism Of Israel Within U.S. Universities

The president of the United States, Donald Trump, signed on Wednesday a decree that threatens to muzzle criticism of Israel in the country's universities, warning that he will cut federal funds to those centers that do not act to combat what his government considers cases of anti-Semitism

During a reception at the White House on the occasion of the Jewish holiday of Chanukah, Trump signed an executive order that formalizes a campaign that had already launched his Department of Education to combat boycott movements to Israel in the country's universities.

"This is my message to universities: if they want to accept the tremendous amounts of federal funds they get each year, they have to reject anti-Semitism," said the president.

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The decree states that discrimination against Jews is covered by Title VI of the US Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits institutions receiving federal funds from showing a bias towards certain people based on "their race, color or origin. national".

Although that chapter does not cover religion, sometimes attacks on certain groups based on their faith have been interpreted as relative to national origin, which serves as a shield to the White House.

Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a meeting in Jerusalem in May 2017. / REUTERS / Ronen Zvulun / Archive /

The order fails to classify Judaism as a nationality, as some media had rumored, but it does promote a definition of anti-Semitism that, among other things, includes "claims that the existence of the State of Israel is racist."

"Anti-Zionism is anti-Semitism," Trump's son-in-law and advisor Jared Kushner wrote in an opinion piece in The New York Times.

Some groups, such as the J Street progressive Jewish coalition, fear that the decree will be used to silence any activism in favor of the rights of Palestinians in universities by equating all criticism of Israel's policies with anti-Semitism.

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In practice, the US Department of Education He has already focused on these criticisms of Israel, and has launched research on that topic at the universities of Rutgers, Duke, North Carolina and Williams, according to Jeffrey Sachs, a professor of Policy at the University of Acadia (Canada) .

"If it is discovered that they have tolerated anti-Semitism on their campus, these universities could lose millions of dollars in federal funds. But, in each case, the 'anti-Semitic' speech investigated is critical of Israel," Sachs wrote in an article. in September.

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Therefore, Trump's decree simply formalizes that campaign that his Government has already undertaken, and which, according to J Street, can have a "gag effect" on the country's campuses.

The president's decision is framed in his policy of resounding support for the Israeli Government, expressed during his term with measures such as the recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel or the sovereignty of that country over the disputed Golan Heights.

Source: EFE

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