Dec 11, 2019

Trump signs executive order to define Judaism as a race, ethnicity

Photo: Noam Galai/WireImage

President Trump signed an executive order on Wednesday to virtually define Judaism as a race or national origin, not just a religion, under the Civil Rights Act.

The big picture: The order is meant to address anti-Jewish bias in universities. It also expands acts of anti-Semitism to include anti-Israel statements. Both measures have been spearheaded by Kenneth Marcus, head of the Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights, the New York Times notes.

  • Marcus opened investigations into the University of Pennsylvania and Stanford University over alleged admissions biases against Jewish people.
  • He also investigated and reopened cases at New York University, the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill and Rutgers University dealing with anti-Israel sentiments and schools that allegedly created hostile environments for Jewish students.

Between the lines: Trump's signature comes amid several anti-Semitic attacks in America. A mass shooter killed three people at a kosher grocery store in Jersey City, New Jersey, on Tuesday after posting anti-Semitic remarks online.

  • An attacker in April at Poway Synagogue in California killed one woman, and a shooting at a synagogue in Pittsburgh last year killed 11.

What they're saying: Jared Kushner, Trump's son-in-law who is Jewish, wrote in a New York Times op-ed Wednesday that the order is aimed at protecting Jewish students. In response to criticism that it would further separate Jewish people in America, Kushner wrote:

"When news of the impending executive order leaked, many rushed to criticize it without understanding its purpose. The executive order does not define Jews as a nationality. It merely says that to the extent that Jews are discriminated against for ethnic, racial or national characteristics, they are entitled to protection by the anti-discrimination law."

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ADL official: The Jewish community is facing an "epidemic" in New York

Oren Segal, vice president of the Anti-Defamation League, said on CNN's "State of the Union" that New York's Jewish communities are facing an "epidemic" following a mass stabbing at the home of a Hasidic rabbi — roughly the 13th anti-Semitic attack in New York in the past few weeks.

Go deeperArrowDec 29, 2019

Prosecutors charge Monsey stabbings suspect with federal hate crimes

A member of the Ramapo police stands guard in front of the house of Rabbi Chaim Rottenberg, Dec.29, Monsey, New York. Photo: Stephanie Keith/Getty Images

Prosecutors filed federal hate crime charges on Monday against 37-year-old Grafton Thomas — the suspect accused of stabbing five people in a Hasidic rabbi’s home in Monsey, New York, during a Hanukkah celebration this weekend, the New York Times reports.

Details: Authorities said they recovered journals with anti-Semitic entries they believe belong to Thomas that included references to Adolf Hitler, "Nazi culture" and drawings of a Star of David and a swastika.

Go deeperArrowDec 30, 2019

Monsey stabbing at New York rabbi's home: What we know so far

Joseph Gluck talks to the press as he describes the machete attack that took place earlier outside a rabbi's home in Monsey, New York. Photo: Betancur/AFP via Getty Images

A mass stabbing at the home of a Hasidic rabbi in Monsey, N.Y., during a Hanukkah gathering has left five people wounded, including two critically.

The big picture: Police Chief Brad Weidel said a suspect, identified as 37-year-old Grafton Thomas of Greenwood Lake, N.Y., is in custody and has pleaded not guilty to five counts of attempted murder and one count of burglary, according to AP. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Sunday he considers the attack to be an "act of domestic terrorism."

Go deeperArrowUpdated Dec 29, 2019