Texas governor issues order combating antisemitism on campus

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott speaks during CPAC Texas 2022 conference at Hilton Anatole on Aug. 4, 2022. Credit: lev radin/Shutterstock.

(JNS) — Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issued an executive order on March 28 “addressing acts of antisemitism in institutions of higher education.”

“Antisemitism is never acceptable in Texas, and we will do everything we can to fight it,” he stated.

“The State of Texas stands with Israel and the Jewish community, and we must escalate our efforts to protect against antisemitism at Texas colleges and universities and across our state,” the Republican governor added. “Across the country, acts of antisemitism have grown in number, size, and danger to the Jewish community since Hamas’s deadly attack on Oct. 7.”

Abbott said the state “took immediate action to protect Jewish schools, synagogues and other key locations.”

“Many Texas colleges and universities also acted quickly to condemn antisemitism, but some radical organizations on our campuses engaged in acts that have no place in Texas,” he said. “Now, we must work to ensure that our college campuses are safe spaces for members of the Jewish community.”

The executive order notes that “protected free speech areas on Texas university campuses, as well as the buildings and parking lots of Jewish student organizations, have been covered in antisemitic graffiti.”

It adds that students have chanted “antisemitic phrases such as ‘from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,’ which has long been used by Hamas supporters to call for the violent dismantling of the State of Israel and the destruction of the Jewish people who live there.”

The governor directs Texas colleges and universities to “review and update free speech policies to address the sharp rise in antisemitic speech and acts on university campuses and establish appropriate punishments, including expulsion from the institution.”

He also tells institutions to discipline the Palestine Solidarity Committee, Students for Justice in Palestine and other related groups when they violate such policies and to include the definition of antisemitism, which the state adopted, “in university free speech policies to guide university personnel and students on what constitutes antisemitic speech.”

The state has codified the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s working definition of antisemitism into law.

“The Combat Antisemitism Movement commends Governor Abbott’s decision today to issue executive order GA-44, aimed at combating antisemitism on college campuses,” stated Sacha Roytman, CEO of the Combat Antisemitism Movement.

Roytman noted that the IHRA working definition “has shown to be one of the most effective tools for identifying and countering on-campus antisemitism.”