Trump signs order targeting college anti-Semitism

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump signed an executive order Wednesday targeting what his administration describes as a growing problem with anti-Semitic harassment on college campuses.

Trump has sought to closely align himself with Israel, a move that appeals to many evangelical voters, too. He said Wednesday that the order sends a message to universities: “If you want to accept the tremendous amount of federal dollars that you get every year, you must reject anti-Semitism. It's very simple," Trump said.

Under the order, the Department of Education will consider the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance's definition of anti-Semitism — which can include criticism of Israel — when evaluating discrimination complaints under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act. The department could withhold funding from schools that it finds in violation of Title VI.

The order comes as the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against the Israeli government for its treatment of Palestinians becomes more prominent on some college campuses.

The Israeli government has urged allies to rein in the boycott movement, while its backers deny anti-Semitism charges and describe themselves as critical of Israeli decision-making, not Jews.

“My administration will never tolerate the suppression, persecution or silencing of the Jewish people," Trump said. “We forcefully condemn this anti-Semitic campaign against the state of Israel and its citizens.

The Anti-Defamation League, which has been critical of Trump in the past for comments the groups has described as echoing “racist talking points" welcomed the executive order. The group's CEO, Jonathan Greenblatt, said it would give law enforcement and campus officials an important tool in fighting anti-Semitism.

But critics said the order is based on stalled legislation designed less to combat anti-Semitism than to have a chilling effect on free speech and to crack down on campus critics of Israel.

“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,”said Jeremy Ben-Ami, president of J Street, a Democratic-aligned advocacy group.

Trump signed the executive order at a Hanukkah reception at the White House, the first of two on Wednesday. New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft and Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz were among those in attendance who spoke in favor of Trump's actions.

The Jewish Democratic Council of America called it a political stunt.

“It’s not up to Donald Trump to define, stereotype, or use Jews for his own political advantage, and we reject his attempts to do so," said the group's executive director, Halie Soifer.

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President Donald Trump visits Israel
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President Donald Trump visits Israel
US President Donald Trump visits the Western Wall, the holiest site where Jews can pray, in Jerusalems Old City on May 22, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump arrive aboard Air Force One at Ben Gurion International Airport in Lod near Tel Aviv, Israel May 22, 2017. REUTERS/Amir Cohen
U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump arrive aboard Air Force One at Ben Gurion International Airport in Lod near Tel Aviv, Israel May 22, 2017. REUTERS/Amir Cohen
U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump arrive aboard Air Force One at Ben Gurion International Airport in Lod near Tel Aviv, Israel May 22, 2017. REUTERS/Amir Cohen
US President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump arrive at Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv on May 22, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) and his wife Sara await U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump's arrival at Ben Gurion International Airport in Lod near Tel Aviv, Israel May 22, 2017. REUTERS/Amir Cohen
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L), his wife Sara (2nd L) and David Friedman (3rd L), the new United States Ambassador to Israel, await U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump's arrival at Ben Gurion International Airport in Lod near Tel Aviv, Israel May 22, 2017. REUTERS/Amir Cohen
Members of honor guard in formation wait to begin the welcoming ceremony for U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump's departure from Air Force One at Ben Gurion International Airport in Lod near Tel Aviv, Israel May 22, 2017. REUTERS/Amir Cohen
Members of honor guard in formation wait to begin the welcoming ceremony for U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump's departure from Air Force One at Ben Gurion International Airport in Lod near Tel Aviv, Israel May 22, 2017. REUTERS/Amir Cohen
U.S. President Donald Trump (C) is greeted by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's wife Sara upon his arrival at Ben Gurion International Airport in Lod near Tel Aviv, Israel May 22, 2017. REUTERS/Amir Cohen
Israeli President Reuven Rivlin (L) welcomes US President Donald Trump (C) and First Lady Melania Trump (R) as they take part in a welcome ceremony upon their arrival at Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv on May 22, 2017, during part of his first trip overseas. / AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
Israeli President Reuven Rivlin (L) welcomes US President Donald Trump (C) during a welcome ceremony upon his arrival at Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv on May 22, 2017, as part of his first trip overseas. / AFP PHOTO / Jack GUEZ (Photo credit should read JACK GUEZ/AFP/Getty Images)
U.S. President Donald Trump (2nd L) walks with Israel's President Reuven Rivlin (R) upon his arrival aboard Air Force One at Ben Gurion International Airport in Lod near Tel Aviv, Israel May 22, 2017. REUTERS/Amir Cohen
U.S. President Donald Trump (2nd L) and first lady Melania Trump (3rd L) walk with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (2nd R), his wife Sara (R) and David Friedman (Center back), the new United States Ambassador to Israel, upon their arrival at Ben Gurion International Airport in Lod near Tel Aviv, Israel May 22, 2017. REUTERS/Amir Cohen TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) and US President Donald Trump speak upon the latter's arrival at Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv on May 22, 2017, as part of his first trip overseas. / AFP PHOTO / Jack GUEZ (Photo credit should read JACK GUEZ/AFP/Getty Images)
U.S. President Donald Trump (C) sits next to Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) and Israel'sPresident Reuven Rivlin during a welcoming ceremony to welcome Trump at Ben Gurion International Airport in Lod near Tel Aviv, Israel May 22, 2017. REUTERS/Amir Cohen
U.S. President Donald Trump (C) shakes hands with Israel's President Reuven Rivlin as Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ( R) claps hands during a welcoming ceremony to welcome Trump at Ben Gurion International Airport in Lod near Tel Aviv, Israel May 22, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
US President Donald Trump speaks during a welcome ceremony upon his arrival at Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv on May 22, 2017, as part of his first trip overseas. / AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Donald Trump (C) gives a speech during a welcome ceremony upon his arrival at Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv on May 22, 2017, as part of his first trip overseas. / AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
U.S. First Lady Melania Trump (seated, L) chats wife Sara Netanyahu (seated, front) as U.S. President Donald Trump (C) chats to Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) during a welcoming ceremony to welcome Trump at Ben Gurion International Airport in Lod near Tel Aviv, Israel May 22, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. President Donald Trump (6th R) shakes hands with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (5th R) upon his arrival at Ben Gurion International Airport in Lod near Tel Aviv, Israel May 22, 2017. REUTERS/Amir Cohen
U.S. first lady Melania Trump attends a welcoming ceremony upon her arrival together with U.S. President Donald Trump at Ben Gurion International Airport in Lod near Tel Aviv, Israel May 22, 2017. REUTERS/Amir Cohen
Members of the Israeli security forces patrol the area near the King David Hotel where U.S. President Donald Trump is expected to stay during his visit, in Jerusalem May 22, 2017. REUTERS/Avishag Shar-Yashuv
Ultra-Orthodox Jewish men walk on a pavement as members of the media and Israeli security forces work nearby, in the area near the King David Hotel where U.S. President Donald Trump is expected to stay during his visit, in Jerusalem May 22, 2017. REUTERS/Avishag Shar-Yashuv
Security guards patrol near Israeli and American flags as they wait for the expected arrival of U.S. President Donald Trump at Ben Gurion International Airport in Lod near Tel Aviv, Israel May 22, 2017. REUTERS/Amir Cohen
U.S. President Donald Trump (2ndL) looks at his wife Melania signing a guest book as Israeli President Reuven Rivlin (3rd L) and his wife Nechama (R) stand nearby at Rivlin's residence in Jerusalem May 22, 2017. REUTERS/Noam Moskowitz
U.S. President Donald Trump (2nd L) shakes hands, after signing the guest book, with Israeli President Reuven Rivlin (2nd R) with his wife Nechama Reuven (R) and first lady Melania Trump (L), in Jerusalem May 22, 2017. REUTERS/Noam Moskowitz
U.S. President Donald Trump (L) sits next to Israeli President Reuven Rivlin during their meeting in Jerusalem May 22, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Israeli President Reuben Rivlin (L) gestures as he sits next to U.S. President Donald Trump during their meeting at Rivlin� residence in Jerusalem May 22, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. President Donald Trump (2nd L) signs the guest book, with first lady Melania Trump (L), Israeli President Reuven Rivlin (2nd R) his wife Nechama Reuven (R) in Jerusalem May 22, 2017. REUTERS/Noam Moskowitz
U.S. President Donald Trump gestures during his meeting with Israeli President Reuven Rivlin at Rivlin?s residence in Jerusalem May 22, 2017. REUTERS/Atef Safadi/Pool
U.S. President Donald Trump delivers a few remarks to reporters before his meeting with Israel� President Reuven Rivlin at Rivlin� residence in Jerusalem May 22, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. President Donald Trump ( L) stands on a podium next to Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, in Jerusalem May 22, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. President Donald Trump ( L) stands on a podium next to Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, in Jerusalem May 22, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
US President Donald Trump listens to Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovitch (C) during a visit to the Western Wall, the holiest site where Jews can pray, in Jerusalems Old City on May 22, 2017. On the left, Trump's son-in-law and senior advisor Jared Kushner. / AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
U.S. President Donald Trump (C) stands next to Western Wall Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz at the plaza in front of the Western Wall, Judaism's holiest prayer site, in Jerusalem's Old City May 22, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
US President Donald Trump visits the Western Wall, the holiest site where Jews can pray, in Jerusalems Old City on May 22, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Donald Trump visits the Western Wall, the holiest site where Jews can pray, in Jerusalems Old City on May 22, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / POOL / RONEN ZVULUN (Photo credit should read RONEN ZVULUN/AFP/Getty Images)
Ivanka Trump, the daughter of US President Donald Trump, visits the Western Wall, the holiest site where Jews can pray, in Jerusalems Old City on May 22, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / POOL / RONEN ZVULUN (Photo credit should read RONEN ZVULUN/AFP/Getty Images)
Ivanka Trump (L), the daughter of US President Donald Trump, is seen during a visit to the Western Wall, the holiest site where Jews can pray, in Jerusalems Old City on May 22, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / POOL / RONEN ZVULUN (Photo credit should read RONEN ZVULUN/AFP/Getty Images)
Ivanka Trump, the daughter of US President Donald Trump, is seen during a visit to the Western Wall, the holiest site where Jews can pray, in Jerusalems Old City on May 22, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
Ivanka Trump, the daughter of US President Donald Trump, visits the Western Wall, the holiest site where Jews can pray, in Jerusalems Old City on May 22, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / POOL / RONEN ZVULUN (Photo credit should read RONEN ZVULUN/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Donald Trump (C) and First Lady Melania Trump (L) tour the garden of the residency of Israel's President Reuven Rivlin (R) in Jerusalem on May 22, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
U.S. President Donald Trump (C) stands next to Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz at the plaza in front of the Western Wall, Judaism's holiest prayer site, in Jerusalem's Old City May 22, 2017. REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun
U.S. President Donald Trump (2nd R) walks with Israel's President Reuven Rivlin (R) to review troops during a welcome ceremony at Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv, Israel May 22, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump walk in a procession to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem May 22, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. President Donald Trump shakes hands with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas during their meeting at the presidential headquarters in the West Bank town of Bethlehem, May 23, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas extends his hand to shake hands with U.S. President Donald Trump during a joint news conference at the presidential headquarters in the West Bank town of Bethlehem, May 23, 2017. REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman
A still image taken from video shows U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania attending a ceremony commemorating the six million Jews killed by the Nazis in the Holocaust, in the Hall of Remembrance at Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem May 23, 2017. Government Press Office via REUTERS TV ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. IT IS DISTRIBUTED, EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS.
Yad Vashem Chairman Avner Shalev presents U.S. President Donald Trump with a token of remembrance, an exact replica of the original Holocaust-era personal album that belonged to Ester Goldstein, who perished in the Holocaust, at Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem May 23, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania lay a wreath during a ceremony commemorating the six million Jews killed by the Nazis in the Holocaust, in the Hall of Remembrance at Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem May 23, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. President Donald Trump holds the hand of Holocaust survivor Margot Goldstein, as first lady Melania Trump walks towards them, at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem May 23, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump participate in a wreath-laying at the Yad Vashem holocaust memorial in Jerusalem May 23, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania wave as they board Air Force One to travel to Rome from Ben Gurion International Airport near Tel Aviv, Israel May 23, 2017. REUTERS/
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