Today, following the release of President Donald Trump’s Executive Order: Combating Anti-Semitism, seeking to withhold federal funding from universities in a manner that would restrict freedom of expression on U.S. college campuses, Daniel Sokatch, CEO of the New Israel Fund, released the following statement:
“American Jews are rightly concerned about rising anti-Semitism in our country. And like all minority groups in our democracy, Jewish Americans deserve to have our civil rights fully protected under law. Current law already protects those rights. Limiting the speech of college students in no way addresses this concern.
“President Donald Trump’s latest executive order, which declares that criticism of the Israeli government is equivalent to anti-Semitism and makes it possible to pull federal funding from universities that don’t agree to police students’ freedom of speech when it comes to Israel, is an attempt to silence the fundamental freedom to dissent on college campuses. It is a carbon copy of failed legislative attempts in Congress to pass these same restrictions on freedom of speech. It will be used to silence dissent and smear those who speak up for the rights of Palestinian people and a peaceful future for all, and contribute to a dangerous chilling effect on college campuses.
“Protecting our fundamental freedom of speech is essential in any democracy, and that includes our right to speak out against unjust actions of governments. Any legislation or executive action that gags free speech and silences political dissent can only harm all of us, no matter our religion or beliefs.
“While the New Israel Fund does not support the global BDS movement, we are proud to stand with our colleagues in the civil rights community in Israel and in the United States in opposing dangerous efforts to restrict and police free speech in both countries. We stand together in opposition to this attempt by President Trump to twist the definition of anti-Semitism to further his own narrow political interests.”