Does the Florida state Senate have its very own Ilhan Omar or Rashida Tlaib? That would be a logical conclusion given a vote by a leader in the state’s Democrat Party Tuesday against a bill opposing anti-Semitism. The highest ranking Democrat in Florida’s Senate voted no on a bill sponsored by Sen. Joe Gruters, chairman of the Republican Party of Florida. She immediately came under fire from Republicans and Democrats alike.
Anti-Semitism and the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement are hot button issues in legislative bodies and will play a role in the upcoming presidential elections. There is an ugly trend towards voicing anti-semitic remarks against Jews or support of Israel on the left without reprimands from leadership. In this case, Florida State Senator Audrey Gibson voted against a basic resolution to require institutions to treat anti-semitism the same as racial discrimination. Gibson, an African-American woman couldn’t support that.
The legislation would require schools and colleges to treat allegations of anti-Semitism as they would allegations of racial discrimination. It would define anti-Semitism as “demonizing” or using “stereotypical allegations” against Jewish people, including the “myth about a world Jewish conspiracy.”
Anti-Semitic behavior would include “accusing Jewish citizens of being more loyal to Israel, or the alleged priorities of Jews worldwide, than to the interest of their own nations.”
Gibson voiced concern in a committee meeting Monday after the bill moved through the Florida House and Senate without problems. Channeling sentiments of anti-Semitic freshmen in the U.S. House of Representatives, Gibson voiced concern that the resolution promoted preferential treatment to one religion over another. In other words, it would show preferential treatment to Jews. That’s ridiculous. Speaking out against divisive, hateful speech is not exhibiting preferential treatment. It’s a petty objection which shows a bit of desperation, or perhaps her own prejudice, as is the case with Ilhan and Tsaib.
In the committee Monday, Gibson claimed the legislative action is divisive.
“This kind of thing is what creates divisiveness in this country,” said Gibson, noting that African-American churches have been bombed. “It’s an intentional piece of legislation to divide.”
This is an apple and oranges kind of argument. Hateful speech that deliberately smears another person over religious beliefs or support of another democratic country is not the same as an act of violence against people of color. So when the blowback from her colleagues in the Senate, both Democrat, and Republican, began, she defensively doubled down on her gibberish. She was the only no vote in the Senate. (Politico)
On Tuesday, Gibson, defended her vote, saying that the bill, while well-intentioned, “fails to protect the very constituencies that have been the subject of hate crimes in Florida, and in this country.”
“As it currently stands, this legislation fights the wrong battle, and targets the wrong enemy,” Gibson said in a written statement. “It restrains school children from making anti-Semitic statements, but removes culpability for those who actually carry out anti-Semitic hate crime attacks.”
She claimed the bill fights the wrong battle.
“SB1272 may be well-intentioned, but it fails to protect the very constituencies that have been the subject of hate crimes in Florida, and in this country. My goal yesterday and going forward continues to be ensuring that all religions are protected. That’s why I raised the questions I did during the Senate Judiciary Committee meeting on Monday. But the bill currently falls short in guaranteeing that equal protection,” Gibson added.
The Jewish Republican sponsor of the House version of the bill, Rep. Randy Fine isn’t having it. He calls for the senator to be reprimanded over her comments.
“Fighting anti-Semitism is something that used to bring all Floridians together,” said Rep. Randy Fine. “But it is comments like these by the Democrat Leader of the Senate that creates divisiveness – not legislation that will reduce it,”
“It is sad that in the world propagated by Washington Democrats like Congresswomen Ihlan Omar and Rashida Tlaib and Tallahassee Democrats like Audrey Gibson, fighting anti-Semitism is ‘divisive.’ In this time of rising anti-Semitism around both the country and globe, it is unconscionable that the most powerful Democrat in the Florida Senate would vote against banning discrimination based on anti-Semitism,” Fine added.
“I would strongly encourage the Senate Democrat Caucus to hold Leader Gibson accountable for these statements. It was my hope that Florida would take a united stand against the anti-Semitism ng out of the Washington; while that hope is now dashed,” Fine added, “I am still optimistic that our Republican Legislature and Governor DeSantis will repudiate the Omar/Tlaib/Gibson position and make that statement loud and clear.”
Meanwhile, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is planning a trip to Israel on a trade mission and to show fulfillment to his campaign promise to be “the most pro-Israel governor in the country.” As a matter of fact, he will hold a cabinet meeting at the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem.
After fighting during his time in Congress to move the U.S. embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announced Tuesday that the next Florida Cabinet meeting would take place at the embassy during a weeklong trip to Israel at the end of May.
Florida’s business will be conducted 6,588 miles from where the public meetings usually take place in Tallahassee and would be accessible for state residents only after a flight of about 14 hours.
“That’ll be a historic meeting,” he said Tuesday during an appearance in Plantation.
There are about 470,000 Jewish voters in Florida. It’s an important block of voters. Republicans are moving to increase the percentage of Republican support from Jewish voters in 2020. It’s a fluid situation, given the events coming from the first months of the new Congress in Washington, D.C.
I am pleased to formally announce my business development mission to Israel. We will be leading a delegation of diverse and accomplished business, academic and political leaders to strengthen the bond between Florida and Israel. More details here – https://t.co/8KcUo7pFZV pic.twitter.com/s0oszT6tCw
— Ron DeSantis (@GovRonDeSantis) April 9, 2019