December 12, 2019 — New York
The piece originally appeared in The New York Times.
To the Editor:
Re “A Cynical Bid to Court Jewish Support” (editorial, Dec. 12):
Criticism that President Trump’s executive order will not stop every act of antisemitism is akin to attacking vaccinations because they don’t cure cancer. That is true, but they can still do a lot of good.
The president’s order merely gives Jews what other groups have long enjoyed: the right not to be subject to a hostile environment on campus. No matter how much some political partisans might claim, antisemitism is not merely a creation of the extreme right wing, deadly though that source has obviously been.
One need only note the spate of attacks against Orthodox Jews on the streets of Brooklyn and, most recently, in Jersey City — all of which are manifestly not the products of white nationalism — to understand this to be true. Moreover, most of the intimidating and bullying acts of antisemitism on college campuses have come from those aligned with the extreme left.
The Times is correct that use of the working definition of antisemitism could be manipulated to penalize speech. The same can be said, however, about hate crime laws, harassment policies and any number of other such legislative or administrative measures, all of which are properly in use today.
The bottom line is there is nothing inconsistent with protecting freedom of expression and, simultaneously, providing Jews with the same protections accorded other minorities.
The writer is chief executive of the American Jewish Committee.