December 11, 2019 — New York
“American Jewish Committee (AJC) welcomes President Trump’s Executive Order to strengthen efforts to combat antisemitism on college and university campuses. We trust that a careful application of this directive will enable university administrators to avoid running afoul of free speech protections as they seek to root out antisemitism on their campuses,” said AJC CEO David Harris.
The situation for Jewish students is most worrisome. As AJC’s recent landmark survey on antisemitism in the U.S. shows, American Jewish young people are the age group most vulnerable to this hatred. Nearly half of those between the ages of 18 and 29 have been victims of antisemitic acts over the past five years, compared to just over a third of American Jews overall. More than a third of Jewish young people said they either had experienced antisemitism on an American college campus themselves or know someone who has.
AJC does not consider the EO, or longstanding Department of Education guidance, to be designed to suppress rational criticism of Israel or its policies, and we will speak out against any attempt to do so. AJC also recognizes that there will be hard cases where it will be necessary to decide whether the speech in question is constitutionally protected or not.
To date, though, responses to antisemitism on many campuses have often fallen short, leaving Jewish students vulnerable. Existing federal policy has not been fully enforced and today’s order merely gives Jews what other groups have long enjoyed—the right not to be subject to a hostile environment on campus. There is nothing inconsistent with protecting freedom of expression and providing Jews the same protections accorded other minorities.