Jewish Groups Accuse Trump of Anti-Semitism Over 'Horrifying' Plan to Define Judaism As a Nationality

Liberal American Jewish advocacy groups have reacted with horror to reports that President Donald Trump plans to sign an executive order defining Judaism as a nationality rather than just a religion.

According to a Tuesday report from The New York Times, the president is planning the order to help combat anti-Semitism on U.S. college campuses and crack down on boycott campaigns against the state of Israel.

But progressive Jewish groups suggested the reported move is actually anti-Semitic, in that casts Jews as a separate nationality to all other Americans, and arguing it could stifle legitimate criticism of Israeli policies.

The move comes as the president himself is facing renewed accusations of anti-Semitism, after a weekend speech in which he used multiple anti-Semitic tropes and again suggested that all Jews must support for the Israeli government.

The Education Department can currently withhold funding from institutions or programs that discriminate "on the ground of race, color, or national origin," but not religion, the Times explained.

By defining Judaism as a nationality, the administration will be able to defund institutions seen to be allowing an anti-Semitic environment do develop.

But it will also help the Education Department's efforts to quell Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions-linked movements, which seek to pressure the Israeli government to to improve its treatment of Palestinians and end its continued violation of international law.

Supporters of Israel and the Trump administration have claimed such movements are inherently anti-Semitic.

The progressive Jewish If Not Now organization said the reported executive order "is not about keeping Jews safe. It's just more antisemitism."

The group explained, "The order defines Judaism as a 'nationality,' promoting the classically bigoted idea that American Jews are not, well, American."

"Conflating criticism of the Israeli government with antisemitism is actually antisemitic because it implies that all Jews agree with, and are responsible for, Israel's actions."

The Minnesota branch of the Jewish Community Action group described the Times report as "horrifying" on Twitter.

"As American Jews, we will resist being defined as anything else," the tweet continued.

"This is an empty, dishonest manipulation - the President wants to distract us from the truly violent white nationalism he has emboldened, and his own blatant antisemitism. We can't let it work."

The liberal J Street group also condemned the reported executive order, with its President Jeremy Ben-Ami suggesting the move was about shutting down legitimate opposition to the White House and its far-right Israeli allies.

"We feel it is misguided and harmful for the White House to unilaterally declare a broad range of nonviolent campus criticism of Israel to be anti-Semitic, especially at a time when the prime driver of anti-Semitism in this country is the xenophobic, white nationalist far-right," Ben-Ami said in a statement.

"It is particularly outrageous and absurd for President Trump to pretend to care about anti-Semitism during the same week in which he once again publicly spouted anti-Semitic tropes about Jews and money," he continued.

A White House official told Newsweek that the Times' report was inaccurate and that the paper had been asked to correct its story.

This article has been updated to include a response from the White House.

Donald Trump, ISrael, Jews, nationality, Judaism, anti-Semitism
President Donald Trump addresses the Israeli American Council National Summit 2019 at the Diplomat Beach Resort in Hollywood, Florida on December 7, 2019. MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images/Getty
Jewish Groups Accuse Trump of Anti-Semitism Over 'Horrifying' Plan to Define Judaism As a Nationality | Politics