The Orthodox Union (OU), the nation’s largest Orthodox Jewish umbrella organization, applauds President Trump in advance of his signing an Executive Order that will provide new and stronger protections for Jewish students on college campuses against anti-Semitic attacks and harassment. (The order was signed during the White House’s Chanukah celebration.)

This step by the president is aligned with the OU’s longtime support of proposed legislation that would mandate protections for Jewish students by amending Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, ethnicity, or national origin by schools that receive federal funds. The statute, however, doesn’t specifically address anti-Semitism; the Executive Order will define Judaism as an ethnic group in addition to a religious one, and thus, attacks on Jewish students can be considered a federal civil rights violation.

Legislation to enact this policy has been supported by the Orthodox Union and other major Jewish organizations for years and sponsored by a broad set of bipartisan leaders including Senators Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Bob Casey (D-Penn.), Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.), and Roy Blunt (R-Mo.); and Reps. Ted Deutch (D-Fla.), Jerry Nadler (D-NY), and many others. Yet, it has failed to pass Congress.

The order comes at a time when Jewish students are increasingly being targeted on campuses across the United States both for their religion and because of anti-Israel sentiment fomented by the anti-Semitic Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel campaign. Under the Executive Order, schools could lose federal funding if they don’t take action against discrimination targeting Jewish students.

Orthodox Union President Mark (Moishe) Bane stated: “We are grateful to President Trump for taking this important action that not only recognizes but also provides a course of legal action against the scourge of anti-Semitism that has for too long been festering on our nation’s college campuses. Those who seek to use our academic institutions as places to stoke anti-Jewish sentiment are now on notice: There will be consequences for their racism.”

Orthodox Union Executive Director for Public Policy Nathan Diament stated: “The Civil Rights Act is meant to empower the Department of Education to protect students against discrimination on campus. We are grateful to the bipartisan leaders in Congress who attempted to have the law better protect Jewish students under the law. We applaud President Trump for implementing this policy when Congress could not.”

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