December 12, 2019


Judaism is not a nationality: Trump's executive order will lead only to US Jews feeling unsafe and strangers in a land we have called home since we came in 1654 (Michael Harvey, DEC 11, 2019, Times of Israel)

 As CNN reports:

The move would trigger a portion of the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964 that requires educational institutions receiving federal funding to not discriminate based on national origin, according to senior administration officials. The Department of Education can withhold federal funding from any college or educational program that discriminates based on race, color or national origin, according to the Civil Rights Act. Religion is not covered in that portion of the law so the administration would have to interpret Judaism as a nationality in order to potentially punish universities for violations.

While there are many conversations to be had about anti-Semitism on college campuses, the criticism of Israel, and free speech, what most Jews should be concerned about is the move by a governmental body defining Judaism. It is certainly possible that the move to define Judaism as a nationality was made in good faith, the repercussions are complicated and dire.

For one, it is not the role of any country or government to define Judaism. In Jewish history, when Jews have been defined as a race, a religion, or a nationality, it has not been for positive reasons; rather, quite the opposite. Jews have been "classified" as certain types throughout the centuries in order to marginalize and remove citizenship. Additionally, Jews do, and should, feel uneasy when a government makes laws about them at all. From the Laws of Constantine (337-361) to the Nuremberg Laws (1935), governments have targeted Jews with laws and definitions for unsightly purposes. Even if President Trump's order was meant with good intentions to curb anti-Semitism, it very well may lead to a misunderstanding of what Jews in America are, and create more problems than solutions.

Posted by at December 12, 2019 12:00 AM