Watch Gary Lane’s Where in The World interview with Mat Staver to learn why the Trump administration has redefined what it is to be Jewish.
The Trump administration has recently altered the official US definition of what it is to be Jewish.
Is it a religious belief, an ethnic identity, or both?
The Obama administration policy approach was to consider someone to be Jewish only if they embraced Judaism as their religious belief. But now, the United States government says it is changing the definition to include ethnicity.
“There are people obviously that are Jews that are not following a particular Jewish religious belief, but they are discriminated against because of their ethnicity of being Jewish,” explained Liberty Counsel Chairman Mat Staver.
“If you don’t have both of those components, then you are ultimately not going to combat anti-Semitism.”
Staver went on to explain what it means for the entire country now that the Department of State has changed its definition of Jewishness to include both Judaism and ethnic origin.
“Now that will impact all the other agencies including the Department of Education which now will reopen a case at Rutgers University where individuals who were Jewish were discriminated against,” Staver said.
Seven years ago, the Zionist Organization of America filed a civil rights case against Rutgers charging the university allowed a hostile environment on campus against Jewish students.
In addition to Rutgers, Jewish students on other American college campuses have complained they have been targeted for hate crimes, harassment, and discrimination simply for expressing pro-Israel views. Others say attacks against them by pro-Palestinian activists and Muslim extremists have occurred due to their ethnicity as Jews, and are unrelated to whether or not they practice Judaism.
The Obama administration shut down an investigation of anti-Semitism at Rutgers because the previous definition of Jewishness by the US government did not include ethnicity. Earlier this month, Assistant Secretary of Education for Civil Rights Kenneth Marcus announced the department will move to vacate the Obama administration’s decision in 2014 that closed the case against Rutgers.
Rutgers University is reportedly cooperating with the US Department of Education decision to reexamine the case based on the Trump administration’s new definition of Jewishness.
Staver, who is also president of Christians in Defense of Israel, said anti-Semitism is on the rise in parts of the United States–particularly on American college campuses.
“That’s why I think it’s important to reopen the investigation at Rutgers and also to look at anti-Semitism in its comprehensive standpoint that includes both the religious faith of Judaism and the fact that you are ethnically Jewish.”
The Zionist Organization of America has called the revised definition of Jewishness “groundbreaking.”
Pro-Palestine groups say the redefinition is an effort on the part of the Trump administration to restrict freedom of expression on college campuses and to declare the Palestinian cause as anti-Semitic.