Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) is calling for the Department of Education to investigate the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Arizona. Gosar sent a letter to Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos claiming that the program is “anti-American and pro-BDS.” One of the examples Gosar cites is a piece by CMES associate professor Maha Nassar that ran on Mondoweiss two years ago.
The Trump administration’s executive order on antisemitism signals a repressive state action—in effect, setting policy by executive fiat—and an increasingly hostile limit on speech. It will give permission to those university administrations who wish to suppress Palestine solidarity activity rather than make a strong defense of academic freedom.
Last month, two civil rights complaints were filed against Columbia University in the wake of the Trump administration’s recent executive order on campus antisemitism. The Lawfare Project launched one complaint on behalf of an Israeli-American student who claims he was a victim of “systematic discrimination” from professors and pro-Palestine groups such as Students for Justice for Palestine and Columbia University Apartheid Divest.
Some have praised the New York Times editorial on the Trump executive order attacking the BDS movement for its defense of free speech. But like so much else in what the Times says about Israel and Palestine, it gives with one hand what it takes away with the other.
If you think Zionism is out of step with 21st century norms, then Trump’s declaration of war on anti-Zionism and BDS is the battle you have been waiting for.
On December 11, President Trump signed an executive order that effectively weaponizes antisemitism as a cudgel to beat back BDS activities on college campuses. The order threatens to withhold federal funding from universities if the government determines that they’ve failed to prohibit discrimination. Trump’s move was barely announced before a member of congress attempted to use the new playbook. Rep. Denver Riggleman (R-VA) has sent a letter to Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos asking for Georgetown University to be investigated over its alleged anti-Israel bias.
Trump’s Executive Order empowering the federal government to crack down on campus organizing for Palestinian rights under the guise of combating antisemitism was not issued on a whim but as the culmination of a deliberate strategy to stifle pro-Palestinian solidarity. On the campaign trail, Jason Greenblatt and David Friedman menacingly pledged that “the Trump administration will ask the Justice Department to investigate coordinated attempts on college campuses to intimidate students who support Israel.”
The Jewish “nationhood” proposition being promoted by the Trump regime — in which American Jews are expected to love Israel — is the ultimate endorsement, and thereby the anti-Good Housekeeping seal, to Jewish nationalism. And all this was predicted when Zionism arose in the west.
President Trump is on the verge of signing an executive order aimed at cracking down on the campus Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement. The order recognizes Judaism as a nationality and uses a civil rights loophole that will allow the government to withhold funding from schools that failed to effectively crack down on discrimination, which in this case might mean criticism of Israel. “This is a baldfaced attempt to silence the movement for Palestinian rights on college campuses – something that has been at the top of the Trump administration’s agenda,” said Palestine Legal director Dima Khalidi says.