COMMUNITY RELATIONS
& SOCIAL ACTION

Government Affairs Committee

The goal of this group is to continue to develop relationships with elected officials at the County, State and Federal levels in support of policies important to the Jewish Community. It will also serve our partner agencies as advocates for continued public funding upon which many of them rely. Lauren Alperstein is Chair of this Government Affairs Committee.

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Over the past 24 hours, there has been extensive media coverage, and social media dialogue regarding President Trump's Executive Order on anti-Semitism. So much so, that it's hard to discern what it means for the Jewish community and beyond. 

First, let's affirmatively state what it doesn't do:

It does not redefine Judaism as a race or nationality, nor does it claim that Jews are a nation or a different race. 

What it does do? 

The Executive Order provides valuable guidance, giving law enforcement and campus officials an important additional tool to help identify and fight pernicious hate.

Significantly, the executive order is modeled on language in the Anti-Semitism Awareness Act, which has benefited from bipartisan support in the U.S. Congress and formalizes a definition of anti-Semitism that can be used in discrimination cases throughout federal agencies.

The Department of Education, for example, in reviewing potential violations of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, can consider the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) working definition as part of its assessment of whether an incident or activity may be antisemitic. 

The full EO as written from the posting on Whitehouse.gov:  https://www.whitehouse.gov/presidential-actions/executive-order-combating-anti-semitism/

That definition states:

"Anti-Semitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of anti-Semitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities."

Under the executive order, Muslims, Sikhs and others under Title VI where discrimination is based on shared ethnic characteristics are covered.

Does it have bi-partisan support?

Absolutely. The executive order is the culmination of a multi-year effort launched by then Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), who built of coalition of organizations and opinion leaders to bring an Executive Order to fruition. Even after leaving the Senate, Reid worked tirelessly on the issue, even hosting a town hall on antisemitism in Las Vegas last year. https://jewishinsider.com/2019/12/how-trumps-executive-order-on-antisemitism-originated-in-harry-reids-office-2/

Statement from The Jewish Federations of North America:

The Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA) welcomes the new executive order, which adopts the International Holocaust Remembrance Association (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism. The executive order is modeled on language in the Anti-Semitism Awareness Act, which has benefited from bipartisan support in the U.S. Congress and formalizes a definition of anti-Semitism that can be used in discrimination cases throughout federal agencies. It bolsters tools that help prevent discrimination on college campuses, which have been hard hit by a near 90% increase in anti-Semitic incidents over the past three years. It is deplorable that Jewish students continue to experience hate and hostility. These new tools are not inconsistent with first amendment protections, which we will continue to uphold and defend.


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