The executive order, like many of Trump’s policy moves related to Israel, drew approval from parts of his evangelical Christian base, while Jewish leaders were divided in their responses.
By Julie Zauzmer and Susan Svrluga | The Washington Post | Dec 11, 2019
The executive order ‘has been crafted carefully in a way to paper over the inherent flaw in directing federal agencies to use a definition of anti-Semitism that reaches speech plainly protected by the First Amendment.’ — Will Creeley, a senior vice president of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education
President Trump added new fuel Wednesday to a long-simmering fight about how colleges should handle activism around the Israeli–Palestinian conflict, signing a controversial executive order directing the federal government to penalize universities that allow anti-Semitism on campus.
Jewish Americans, from rabbis to college students, were deeply divided in their opinion of an order ostensibly meant to protect Jews. Advocates for Palestinian rights and for free speech on college campuses feared that the order might be used to punish students for criticism of Israel that they contend is political, not anti-Semitic.
The American Jewish community must confront the myths we’ve manufactured and institutionalized in day school classrooms, youth group trips, and summer camp celebrations of “Israel Day.” That most Jewish students can trace Israel’s borders but do not know what the Nakba or Green Line are is the sign of a serious failure. Tomorrow’s American Jewish leader deserve a better, more nuanced education.
US anti-occupation movement IfNotNow released its “Liberation Syllabus” last week. Crowd-sourced from teachers, students, journalists, and rabbis, the syllabus offers a collection of resources — from picture books to nonfiction, cookbooks to podcasts — that Jewish institutions can integrate into their curricula to offer more balanced and just lessons about the occupation.
The syllabus is part of IfNotNow’s “You Never Told Me” campaign, in which alumni of Jewish summer camps, day schools, and youth groups are calling on their institutions to change their Israel education to include honest understandings of the occupation and Palestinian narratives. Some of the resources in IfNotNow’s syllabus, for example, include Rashid Khalidi’s Palestinian Identity and Edward Said’s The Question of Palestine.
“We teach them how to write good essays, how to succeed in interviews, how to be good citizens, the basic skills of dialogue, how to be rationally and not emotionally driven, what types of questions they should ask, how to have an open mind and be open to diversity.”
— Tafeeda Jarbawi, director-general of Taawon
Nora Marzouqa, a 17-year-old Palestinian from Bethlehem, has wanted to study at Harvard University for as long as she can remember. But the aspiring doctor and skilled debater grew up believing her dream was out of reach.
“I’ve seen my family members try to study abroad but they couldn’t for financial reasons, and also because we have to do the Tawjihi [Palestinian matriculation exam] and most universities abroad don’t recognize these test scores,” she tells Al Jazeera.
“It just seemed impossible for me — I didn’t know what the process was or how to go about doing it.”