DENVER (CBS4)– President Donald Trump signed an executive order Wednesday, targeting anti-Semitism on college campuses. Title VI of the Civil Rights Act bars discrimination on the basis of race, color and national origin at universities that receive federal funding.
It did not prohibit discrimination on the basis of religion, until now.
“If Universities want to accept the tremendous amount of federal dollars [they] get every year, [they] must reject anti-Semitism,” said Trump, during a Hanukkah event at the White House.
The President’s executive order means schools could lose federal funding if they fail to combat discrimination against Jewish students. Trump told the Department of Education to consider the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of anti-Semitism when evaluating discrimination under Title VI.
This definition could include criticism of Israel, a concern for free speech advocates.
Co-Director of Chabad of Auraria Campus, Rabbi Yisrael Moshe Ort, says hatred for anybody is something that shouldn’t be tolerated.
“I am pro free speech, but when those same students are saying things like ‘They wish that Hitler finished the job’ or ‘The Jews should be gassed!’ That’s clearly anti-Semitism,” said Ort.
Chabad of Auraria Campus is an organization dedicated to supporting Jewish students and faculty. Ort says they make a point to connect and start dialogues with people of other faiths.
The Rabbi says he’d applaud any elected official, including Trump, who takes action toward creating a safer America for Jews. However, some Jews have said the order implies they’re not American.
In a tweet, Jewish Community Actions said: “This is horrifying. As American Jews, we will resist being defined as anything else.”
Rabbi Ort says defining Judaism is complicated, but it’s best described as a family.
“The idea of Jewish identity is defined in the Torah and that idea of Jewish identity isn’t defined as just a religion,” said Ort, “Judaism is not merely just a religion, but it can be understood as a nationality. Even then, it’s more complex than that.”
Since Chabad of Auraria Campus arrived in 2005, Ort says there’s been a decrease in anti-Semitism.
Ort says only time will tell if Trump’s executive order will have an impact. Nothing will cure hate overnight.
“A lasting solution that will not only stop anti-Semitism, but hatred in general, is education. Education is at the core of removing the fundamental misconceptions that often lead to that hatred,” said Ort.