By Philip Giraldi
What took place in Jerusalem on April 27 was a disgrace. And no, I am not referring to the Israeli police and army shooting dead more Palestinian teenagers before stealing their family homes and destroying their livelihoods. I am referring to Florida’s governor and presidential aspirant Ron DeSantis’s groveling performance in bowing to Jewish power and money during his trip to Israel.
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His abhorrent crawling before his masters culminated in his signing a new state law that will inter alia exploit the “hate” mechanism to criminalize nearly all criticism or even skepticism regarding Israeli apartheid, the official sacrosanct Holocaust narrative, or the behavior of Jewish groups and individuals.
At the signing, DeSantis boasted how “we are doing what we can do in Florida to enhance the ability to hold people accountable when that really crosses the line into threatening conduct. We are fighting back.” He also made clear that the legislation was as much about Israel as about Judaism, arguing that rejecting “Israel’s right to exist is anti-Semitism” and adding that the non-violent Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement is “DOA” in his state. He also bizarrely described “Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons” as an “existential threat to the state of Israel and to the United States of America.”
DeSantis went on to claim that “Florida is the most Israel-friendly state in the country” and pledged that “as long as I’m governor, we will continue to stand with the Jewish community.” In that he is no doubt correct. Twenty-six other states have penalized anyone seeking to either boycott Israel or promote doing so, sometimes to include denial of government jobs or benefits, but there is no doubt that Florida is currently No. 1 in its deference to the Jewish state and its interests.
The bill (HB 269/SB 994), which passed unanimously in both chambers of the Florida legislature, attempts to criminalize what it perceives as anti-Semitism. Even though its language avoids identifying Jews as the protected class, the clear intent of the document is to do just that. It accomplishes that by transforming what would have once been seen as trivial incidents into hate crimes, which are felonies.
It includes “to litter a yard with a flier, harass people, disrupt schools or religious services, deface graves and certain buildings, or project images on someone else’s property” as possible actions rendered felonious based on racial or ethnic prejudice, making them hate crimes. It might mean, for example, that if someone laughs at another person’s clothes and if the attire is considered “ethnic or religious,” that person can be arrested and charged with a third-degree felony as a hate crime. Or if a student in a college history class disputes the standard largely fabricated narrative relating to the founding of Israel, a Jewish student can feign distress and demand that the offender be arrested.
State Rep. Randy Fine, one of the bill’s co-sponsors, who was present at the signing in Jerusalem, explained how “there is no First Amendment right to conduct.”
“If you graffiti a building, it is a crime now, but if your motivation is hate, it will be a third-degree felony and you will spend five years in prison,” Fine stated. “If you want to litter, it’s a crime right now, but if you litter and your motivation is a hate crime, it will be a third-degree felony and you will spend five years in jail.”
After the bill passed the Senate, Fine tweeted that the bill was “the strongest anti-Semitism bill in the United States,” adding: “To Florida’s Nazi thugs, I have news: attack Jews on their property and you’re going to prison. Never again means never again.”
Another co-sponsor Mike Caruso warned, “If we do nothing, we are going to have 1933’s Nazi Germany all over again.”
DeSantis, who is seeking Jewish money and media support for his run at the presidency, turned in something of a repeat performance of his inaugural trip to Israel back in 2019. At that time, he boasted that his first foreign trip was to good friend and perpetual ally Israel. He took his entire gubernatorial cabinet with him to celebrate his election and theatrically signed an earlier bill (HB 741) in Jerusalem that sought to “criminalize ordinary political speech” by making religion as a “protected class” similar to “racism” to be included in “hate crime” legislation. The new designation specifically included attempts to “demonize Israel.”
The Florida bill also included the controversial International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of anti-Semitism, similar to that which is favored by the U.S. Department of State’s Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism, maintaining that “anti-Semitism” is “a certain perception of Jewish people, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jewish people, rhetorical and physical manifestations of anti-Semitism directed toward a person, his or her property, or toward Jewish community institutions or religious facilities.”
Under the bill, the BDS movement was defined as a terrorist “hate” group no different than the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) or the Islamic State in Syria (ISIS), which at that time prompted some civil libertarians to question if criticism of the behavior of the Jewish state could be deliberately mischaracterized as being an “anti-Semitic hate crime” that should or might be construed as criticism of the Jewish people and their religion.
HB 741 amended Florida’s “hate crime” statute to specifically include anti-Semitism, which it defines “as a perception of the Jewish people, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jewish people,” through such acts as:
- Calling for, aiding, or justifying violence against Jews.
- Alleging myths about a world Jewish conspiracy or that Jews control the media, economy, government, or other institutions.
- Accusing Jewish people as a whole of being responsible for real or imaginary wrongdoing by a single Jewish person, group, or the state of Israel, or for acts of non-Jews.
- Accusing the Jewish people of inventing or exaggerating the Holocaust.
- Accusing Jewish citizens of countries other than Israel of being more loyal to Israel than their own nations.
- Demonizing, applying a double standard to, or delegitimizing Israel.
DeSantis has long nurtured political ambitions and, recognizing the power and wealth of those who are passionate about Israel, he harbors a particular “sensitivity” to Jewish and Israel issues as a means to help him move onward and upward. When he was a congressman, survivors from the Israeli attack on the USS Liberty that killed 34 American seamen who lived in his district in Florida report that they sought to meet with him to discuss the possibility of opening a new inquiry into the incident. Even though DeSantis is a former Navy officer, he refused to meet with them.
The power of international Jewry has been most observable in the largely successful attempts to silence criticism of Israel by baselessly declaring that such activity is motivated by anti-Semitism. Former Israeli government minister Shulamit Aloni has even described the practice of labeling all critics as anti-Semites as “a trick” that Jewish activists and organizations “always use” to silence opposition and criticism.
“The suffering of the Jewish people” is routinely used to “justify everything we do to the Palestinians,” she accurately explained.
A number of European countries have also criminalized what is described as “Holocaust denial” and Germany and France have imprisoned those who violate the laws, even when that denial only consists of questioning some of the facts that are employed in the standard accepted narrative of the event.
The most recent country to climb onto the “hate speech” express is Ireland, where new legislation is being considered by the country’s parliament. Interestingly, the debate over what one is allowed to say without criminally offending someone else has largely focused on transsexuals and gender identity, but it has also been observed that the law would impact on supporters of the Palestinian cause who would perforce criticize Israel, the Jewish state. That might easily be construed as anti-Semitism and lead to heavy fines or even prison time. Interestingly, the bill even criminalizes the mere possession of material considered to be “hateful.”
In any event, the domestic war dedicated to stamping out what is referred to as “anti-Semitism” continues and grows in the United States, even when it is trivial, largely imaginary, or even fabricated by hate groups like the Anti-Defamation League headed by the hideous Jonathan Greenblatt. And if free speech has to be sacrificed along the way, so be it.
One wonders if Ron DeSantis, if elected president in 2024, just might hold his inauguration in Jerusalem, just as he did when he became governor. It would actually be something of a relief—at last the ultimate acknowledgment of who is really in charge here.
Philip Giraldi is a former CIA counter-terrorism specialist and military intelligence officer and a columnist and television commentator. He is also the executive director of the Council for the National Interest. Other articles by Giraldi can be found on the website of the Unz Review.