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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."

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Biden explains justification for Syria strike in letter to Congress

Photo: Chris Kleponis/CNP/Bloomberg via Getty Images

President Biden told congressional leadership in a letter Saturday that this week's airstrike against facilities in Syria linked to Iranian-backed militia groups was consistent with the U.S. right to self-defense.

Why it matters: Some Democrats, including Sens. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) and Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), have criticized the Biden administration for the strike and demanded a briefing.

9 hours ago - Health

FDA authorizes Johnson & Johnson's one-shot COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use

Photo: Illustration by Pavlo Gonchar/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

The Food and Drug Administration on Saturday issued an emergency use authorization for Johnson & Johnson's one-shot coronavirus vaccine.

Why it matters: The authorization of a third coronavirus vaccine in the U.S. will help speed up the vaccine rollout across the country, especially since the J&J shot only requires one dose as opposed to Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech's two-shot vaccines.

Updated 9 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios