United States’ President Donald Trump announced on 10 December he was about to issue an executive order that threatens to withhold federal funding from colleges and universities that tolerate anti-Semitism, by failing to combat a broadened definition of it.

Trump said the order was designed to crack down on anti-Semitic hate speech on college campuses, but the draft text has been criticised by rights groups as being overly broad.

The order says manifestations of anti-Semitism “might include the targeting of the state of Israel, conceived as a Jewish collectivity”, but it also says “criticism of Israel similar to that leveled against any other country cannot be regarded as anti-Semitic”.

Critics say Trump’s move aims to silence criticism of Israeli policies against Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, as the order will mainly target the “Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions” movement, which condemns Israeli policies.

“This executive order is a clear instrument of oppression, targeting activism for freedom, justice and equality for the Palestinian people on campuses and it is just disguised as anti-discrimination policy,” said Yousef Munayyer, the executive director of the US Campaign for Palestinian Rights.

Recently, the world has seen a significant rise in anti-Semitic attacks. Holocaust survivor Liliana Segre, held an event on racism on 10 December in Milan after she had to be put under police protection due to receiving anti-semitic threats online. Earlier this month, the online store Amazon drew controversy for selling Christmas ornaments decorated with images of the Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland.