Israeli leader welcomes Trump's college anti-Semitism order

Israel's prime minister has welcomed President Trump's executive order which targets what the White House calls a growing problem of anti-Semitism on U.S. college campuses

JERUSALEM -- Israel's prime minister welcomed on Thursday President Donald Trump's executive order targeting what the White House describes as a growing problem of anti-Semitic harassment on U.S. college campuses.

The order instructs the U.S. Department of Education to use the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance's definition of anti-Semitism — which can include criticism of Israel — when evaluating discrimination complaints under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act. On that basis, the education department could withhold funding from universities that it finds in violation of the article.

Critics say the order is designed less to combat anti-Semitism than to have a chilling effect on free speech and to crack down on campus critics of Israel.

In a statement, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu countered that free speech was not limitless.

“Free speech is not carte blanche for anti-Semitic attacks on the Jewish people and the state of Israel,” Netanyahu said.

The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against the Israeli government for its treatment of Palestinians has become more prominent on some U.S. college campuses. Israel has marked the movement as a major threat and has spent years trying to rein it in.

It has also urged allies to hold back the boycott movement, whose supporters deny anti-Semitism charges and describe themselves as critical of Israeli policies, not the Jewish people.

Netanyahu is an ally of President Trump and has portrayed their close relationship as a boon for Israel. In this year's Israeli parliamentary elections, Netanyahu has run campaign ads showing the two leaders together with the slogan “In a different league.”