New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio took issue Thursday with a new executive order targeting anti-Semitic harassment on college campuses, saying he has "mixed feelings" about its effect on free speech.
According to the New York Post, de Blasio contends the order expands the definition of Judaism as a nationality, and not just a religion.
"I have not read the exact document, but I have mixed feelings," de Blasio said at a news conference about a shooting attack on a Jewish market in Jersey City, N.J., the Post reported.
"Anything that confronts anti-Semitism I support, but I worry at the same time as an American about the balance we always strike in terms of freedom of speech and freedom of expression particularly on college campuses.
"So, this one leaves me with some real questions about whether that balance has been struck properly," he said.
"If someone disagrees with the Israeli government on a given policy, I don't consider that anti-Semitic. If someone bears hatred in their heart toward the Jewish people, that's anti-Semitism," he added, the Post reported.
The order instructs the federal 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.
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.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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