By Renzo Downey for FloridaPolitics.com
Governor Ron DeSantis is speaking out against anti-Semitism after a weekend that saw hateful protests across the Sunshine State.
The statement, sent Monday afternoon by DeSantis publicist Bryan Griffin, comes after Democrats in Florida criticized the Republican governor for not immediately condemning the acts. A homeowners association property was defaced in Weston over the weekend after further anti-Jewish sentiment surfaced around Jacksonville on Friday and Saturday, including during a full-capacity football game between the University of Florida and University of Georgia at TIAA Bank Field.
“Governor DeSantis rejects attempts to scapegoat the Jewish community – it has no place in Florida,” Griffin said in a statement. “Through decisive legislative proposals, legislation and executive action, Governor DeSantis has a proven track record of supporting the Jewish community and combating anti-Semitism and the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement in Florida.”
Griffin also listed several of the Governor’s accomplishments in supporting the Jewish community and fighting anti-Semitism. Among the measures cited was a law DeSantis signed in Israel in 2019 that formally banned anti-Semitism in schools. Another law signed the following year mandated a school curriculum on the Holocaust.
The Governor also approved funding for the Florida Jewish community, including $4 million for security funding for Florida Jewish Day Schools, $1.35 million for the Florida Holocaust Museum in St. , $400,000 for the Holocaust Memorial in Miami Beach, $100,000 for the Holocaust Task Force. and $250,000 for the Florida-Israel Trade Accelerator. Another $1 million in recurring funds supports the collaboration between Israel and Space Florida.
DeSantis has also used Florida’s “anti-BDS” law against companies like Ben & Jerry’s to stop buying shares of companies that take a stand against Israel. In the case of Ben & Jerry’s, the ice cream brand and its parent company first announced that they would no longer sell products in the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories at the end of 2022 before later reversing their position. .
DeSantis was in Saturday’s Georgia-Florida game before heading to New York State to campaign with Lee Zeldin. His office did not comment until two days later, giving critics time to condemn both the protests and the governor.
Earlier Monday, the Florida Democratic Party ridiculed DeSantis for his — now broken — silence on the recent protests.
“This year alone, Ron DeSantis has had a disturbing number of opportunities to condemn anti-Semitism, including neo-Nazi supporters waving a flag bearing his name, but he has deflated each time. For someone who seems to be starting a new culture war every day, it’s hugely telling that he won’t face this kind of hate,” Florida Democratic Party spokesman Travis Reuther said.
“It is clear that it is DeSantis’ campaign strategy to woo the most extreme and hateful segments of his base and that he will always be too cowardly to protect his voters from neo-Nazis, white supremacists and hate groups when the time will come. come.”
Democrat Charlie Crist, who is challenging DeSantis for the governor’s mansion on Election Day next week, blamed DeSantis’ “absolute failure of leadership” for facilitating pre- and post-event exposures.
“I am disgusted and horrified by the hateful and anti-Semitic rhetoric that was displayed in Jacksonville this weekend. Hate should have no home in Florida, period,” Crist said Sunday.
“But as anti-Semitism spreads through our state, Governor DeSantis refuses to condemn it — even when broadcast from the side of a stadium he is in,” Crist added. “This is a disgusting and absolute failure of leadership. Today and always, I stand with our Jewish neighbors in Florida and across the country. »
Renzo Downey covers state government for Florida Politics. After graduating from Northwestern University in 2019, Renzo began his journalism career at the Lone Star State, covering state government for the Austin American-Statesman. Email Renzo at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @RenzoDowney.