Gov. Abbott Signs Anti-Semitism Executive Order For TX Colleges

Pro-Palestinian student groups on April 1 blasted Texas Governor Greg Abbott over his executive order directing colleges and universities in the state to update their free speech policies to address the rise in antisemitism on campuses, the Dallas News reported.

The governor’s order calls on school officials in the state to impose a series of penalties including expulsion so that student groups like the Palestine Solidarity Committee and Students for Justice in Palestine face discipline for antisemitic violence they incite on campus.

In a joint statement responding to Abbott’s order, the two groups accused the governor of violating their First Amendment rights and claimed that his order was anti-Palestinian.

The groups described the order as a “racist campaign” aimed at violating both the US and Texas constitutions and said they would continue to “fight for the liberation of Palestine in our communities.”

The two groups argued that by specifically citing their organizations in the order, the governor was attempting to “stifle speech by intimidating students and campus administration.” They accused Abbott of leveraging his position as governor “to suppress our activism.”

The groups insisted that they had a right “to demand accountability” for “complicity in genocide” and said that they only advocated “for the freedom of Palestinians” which they argued was “protected speech.”

Students for Justice in Palestine’s UT Dallas chapter vice president Fatima Tulkarem told the Dallas News that the governor’s order mischaracterized the group’s purpose, arguing that the group was fighting “for justice.”

In his executive order, the governor noted that free speech should “never incite violence.”

Governor Abbott has taken several steps to protect the Jewish community in Texas since the October 7 attacks in Israel. He authorized $4 million in funding to protect Jewish institutions like synagogues and schools. He also barred state agencies from purchasing products from entities that support Hamas.

CEO Sacha Roytman of the Combat Antisemitism Movement lauded the governor’s order, saying in a statement that Governor Abbott had taken a “crucial step” in ensuring that Jewish students in Texas had “a safe learning environment.”