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Trump Executive Order causes division between free speech and fighting anti-Semitic hate



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Helene G. Simon Hillel Center is seen May 12, 2008. IDS file photo

President Donald Trump signed a new executive order regarding anti-Semitism on Wednesday, Dec. 11, but people are divided about whether or not it is beneficial. 

The executive order affects the college campus as it clarifies federal funding can be withheld from institutions that discriminate, with an emphasis on anti-Semitism. Yet, it divides people on the ideas of fighting anti-Semitism and maintaining free speech on the college campus.

In a recent speech about the executive order, Trump said, “The action makes clear that Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, which prohibits the federal funding of universities and other institutions that engage in discrimination, applies to institutions that traffic an anti-Semitic hate.” 

Rabbi Sue Silberberg, the director of the Helene G. Simon Hillel Center said that as of right now it is too early to say what will really come of this executive order. However, she does think something needs to be done regarding anti-Semitism, especially as of late. 

One recent anti-Semitic attack occurred Dec. 10, when six people were shot and killed in Jersey City, New Jersey, according to the Associated Press. Just the week before, a Swastika was painted on a rock outside the Theta Chi Fraternity at IU. 

“I do think it is very important to acknowledge the reality on the ground, and to do something to fight against it, just as we fight against all hate and bigotry,” Silberberg said. 

She said anti-Semitism is a huge problem, and doesn’t think it is always recognized as such. 

“I think that if you put any other minority group and substituted that out for Jewish, I think people would respect what was done,” Silberberg said.

Lydia Zakel, the chair of the Palestine Solidarity Committee at IU, however, said she does not see any good coming from this executive order. 

“I think it’s meant to be harmful, and it will be harmful,” Zakel said. 

Even though the Palestine Solidarity Committee is not anti-Semitic, some people associate it to be that way, she said. Because of this, she expects there to be more pushback on the committee and their events.

“We are not an anti-Semitic organization,” Zakel said. “We support the human rights of all people, Palestinians and Israelites alike.”

Despite what people might assume of the organization, Zakel said this executive order does not make her want to be any quieter. 

“In fact, this semester, I think we’re trying to get louder about our support that way people know what is happening and that we exist,” Zakel said.

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