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Abbott issues executive order to combat antisemitism at Texas universities

Gov. Greg Abbott has issued an executive order to address “acts of antisemitism in institutions of higher education.”

"Antisemitism is never acceptable in Texas, and we will do everything we can to fight it," said Abbott in a statement.

"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. Across the country, acts of antisemitism have grown in number, size, and danger to the Jewish community since Hamas' deadly attack on October 7th.”

“Texas 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. Now, we must work to ensure that our college campuses are safe spaces for members of the Jewish community."

The order addressed three areas of policy that institutions of higher education in Texas must abide by.

Abbott’s order will require a “review and update” of free speech policies at Texas colleges, requiring them to “establish appropriate punishments, including expulsion from the institution.”

The order also addresses two student groups, the Palestine Solidarity Committee and Students for Justice in Palestine, stating they will be “disciplined for violating” campus policies.

Abbott also goes on to state in the executive order that Section 448.001 of the Texas Government Code will be required to be included in “university free speech policies to guide university personnel and students on what constitutes antisemitic speech.”

Texas Government Code provides definitions for “antisemitism,” “genocide,” and “Holocaust.”

Antisemitism is defined in state code as “a certain perception of Jews that may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. The term includes rhetorical and physical acts of antisemitism directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals or their property or toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.”

Chairs at each Texas public university system will have 90 days to enact and report the revisions made to campus free speech policies as laid out in the executive order.

Abbott visited the State of Israel with Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt in November last year. He said about the visit, “There is a deep, enduring bond between Texas and Israel, with the blessings of freedom and burdens of vigilance embedded in the histories of both our people.”

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