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In bid to stop probe, NYU to adopt White House-backed anti-Semitism definition

University to update official policy after ex-student describes hostility toward Jews, including incident at pro-Israel event, which could lead to federal funding withdrawal

Family members play in Washington Square Park in front of New York University on March 11, 2020, in New York. (AP Photo/Kevin Hagen)
Family members play in Washington Square Park in front of New York University on March 11, 2020, in New York. (AP Photo/Kevin Hagen)

JTA — New York University has agreed to incorporate the definition of anti-Semitism adopted by the Trump administration’s in its anti-discrimination policy to head off a federal investigation of the school.

The NYU agreement, revealed this week by Jewish Insider, came after a former student described a hostile environment for Jews on the downtown Manhattan campus, including an incident that occurred at a pro-Israel event.

US President Donald Trump’s executive order last year expanded existing penalties for campuses that allow discrimination to include the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of anti-Semitism, which includes some extreme forms of anti-Israel expression.

Under the law, the federal government may withdraw funds from a university that allows discrimination to proliferate.

A number of Jewish organizations welcomed Trump’s executive order, but some civil liberties groups say the restrictions on Israel-related speech are too broad and inhibit speech freedoms.

The NYU agreement, appearing in a letter to the lawyers for the complainant from the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights, includes a revision of the university’s nondiscrimination and anti-harassment policy and a number of steps to make clear to the university community that it is revised.

Because NYU volunteered to make the change, the Office for Civil Rights suspended its investigation.

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