Donald Trump is to sign an executive order this week that will allow the US government to sanction universities for failing to clamp down on antisemitism on their campsues.
The order can be used to withhold federal funds from colleges that fail to combat anti-Jewish discrimination, as antisemitism would be covered by existing legislation designed to tackle racial discrimination.
Under the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Education Department can withhold funding from any college or educational programme that discriminates “on the ground of race, color, or national origin.”
Religion is not included among the protected categories in that Act, so Mr Trump’s order enforces against “prohibited forms of discrimination rooted in anti-Semitism”. A similar provision to cover all religions was made under Barack Obama's administration.
Jonathan Greenblatt, chief executive of the Anti-Defamation League, welcomed the order, saying: “Of course we hope it will be enforced in a fair manner.”
“But the fact of the matter is we see Jewish students on college campuses and Jewish people all over being marginalized. The rise of anti-Semitic incidents is not theoretical; it’s empirical.”
Yousef Munayyer, the executive director of the U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights, told the New York Times that the order is part of a sustained campaign “to silence Palestinian rights activism”.
Last weekend, Mr Trump was criticised for telling a Jewish audience at the Israeli American Council that they were “not nice people” but would support his re-election because “you’re not going to vote for the wealth tax.”