WASHINGTON, D.C. (December 11, 2019) – President Donald J. Trump is signing an executive order interpreting Judaism as a race or nationality; a move which would authorize the Education Department to withhold federal funding under Title VI from any college or university found not to be fulfilling its legal responsibility to foster an open climate for minority students.The impact, particularly on the the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions [B.D.S.] movement against Israel, which the New York Times reports has “roiled some campuses, leaving some Jewish students feeling unwelcome or attacked,” could be as significant as the Obama administration’s threat to cut off funding under Title IX regarding complaints of campus sexual assaults, claims public interest law professor John Banzhaf, who has played a major role regarding such Title IX proceedings.
The executive order defines as anti-Semitic – and presumably as grounds to terminate funding – as “denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination” under some circumstances and offers as an example of such behavior “claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor.”
However, the Times also reports that “many Israelis say the movement’s real goal is the elimination of Israel as a Jewish state. Full equality for Arab citizens of Israel would require overturning or amending Israeli laws that grant Jews automatic citizenship and define Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people. Granting a right of return to the Palestinians classified as refugees – the original refugees and their millions of descendants – would spell the end of a Jewish majority.”
Title VI and Jews
So it is likely that many Jewish students, and even students who are not Jewish but believe that universities should not be encouraging or even participating in activities which apply sanctions and/or boycotts against a country and its citizens, to begin filing complaints under Title VI.
Such complaints, which would be similar to those filed by students under Title IX, could be filed wherever there is reason to believe that their college or university may be in violation of this new order which adds discrimination against Jews to Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964; a statute which prohibits discrimination “on the ground of race, color, or national origin.”
While no college or university has even actually lost its funding for alleged violation of Title IX, complaints filed by students and/or faculty under that statute have led to more than 200 investigations, dramatic changes on hundreds of campuses, and added expenditures of hundreds of millions of dollars, Banzhaf claims.
That’s because universities will take extraordinary steps to avoid being the subject of such an investigation, says Banzhaf, since they can prove to be very expensive, time and resource consuming, and create adverse publicity which could dissuade students – especially females – from applying.
Similarly, colleges are likely to worry about Title VI complaints which could prove to be equally expensive, and likewise trigger adverse publicity which could dissuade students – especially Jewish students – from applying.
Banzhaf predicts that Title VI complaints, and the threat of federal investigations and even possible loss of funding, will likewise persuade many institutions of higher education to distance themselves – and certainly end any participation in – activities which impose sanctions or otherwise seek to boycott or punish Israel.