WASHINGTON (JTA) — President Donald Trump will sign an executive order recognizing Jewish university students as a class protected from discrimination.
The order, to be signed Wednesday, according to The New York Times, leapfrogs bipartisan legislation in Congress that would do the same thing. The signing of the order will coincide with the White House Hanukkah parties.
According to The Times, the order will effectively interpret Judaism as a nationality, not just a religion, to trigger a federal law penalizing colleges and universities deemed to be shirking their responsibility to foster an open climate for minority students, according to the officials, who insisted on anonymity to discuss the matter before the announcement.
The Times reported that Republican, but not Democratic, sponsors of the order’s mirror legislation in Congress would be present at the signing.
Classifying Jews as a protected class under existing civil rights protections protecting other minorities has been vexed for years by church-state separation concerns. The legislation and Trump’s executive order would effectively recognize Jews as an ethnic minority and not exclusively a religious minority.
More recently, the concern among civil libertarians is that adding Jews as a class could inhibit Israel criticism on campuses, were the designation protecting Jewish students to include definitions that class some forms of Israel criticism as anti-Semitism.
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