As hateful acts against Jewish people climb to “unprecedented” levels, a bill establishing a broadly applying definition for antisemitism in Florida passed on the House floor.

All but three lawmakers supported it.

The measure (HB 187), which pends approval in the Senate, would define antisemitism in state statutes as “a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews” and rhetorical and manifestations “directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals, their property, community institutions and religious facilities.”

HB 187 lists many examples of antisemitic rhetoric, including “dehumanizing” stereotypes that Jews hold disproportionate institutional power and secretly control the world economy, Holocaust denial and double standards when criticizing Israel, the world’s only Jewish-majority country.

Davie Democratic Rep. Mike Gottlieb, the bill’s sponsor, said passing the measure is “bittersweet” because it demonstrates that it is still necessary to “define any ‘ism’ in this day and age, that we’re not open-minded enough.”

He said that while working on the bill, which encountered pushback in committee hearings, that he frequently thought of the “Coexist” sticker seen commonly on vehicles across the state.

“And it puzzles me, it truly puzzles me, that we can’t and that we don’t,” he said.

The definition in HB 187 is taken word-for-word from one the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) adopted in 2106. Florida law already includes it, but it’s tucked away in an education-specific portion of statutes.

Gottlieb and Boynton Beach Democratic Sen. Lori Berman filed identical legislation to apply the definition to all Florida legal matters shortly after the Oct. 7 attack in western Israel, where Palestinian Hamas terrorists murdered and wounded thousands and raped and kidnapped hundreds more.

Israel swiftly launched a counterattack that the Hamas-run Palestinian Health Ministry says has since killed more than 24,000 people in the narrow seaside strip of Gaza that is home to some 2 million Palestinians.

Since then, there have been more than 100 “serious issues of antisemitism” in Florida, Brevard County Republican Rep. Randy Fine said.

“We unfortunately live in a world where, since Oct. 7, we’ve had people say you have to understand the context of antisemitism,” he said, adding that Jews are “the canary in the coal mine” when it comes to discrimination.

“They want us first,” he said. “But after they’re done, they’re coming after everybody else.”

House Democratic Leader Fentrice Driskell and Gainesville Democratic Rep. Yvonne Hinson both voted for HB 187, but expressed concerns about how it could potentially run afoul of the First Amendment.

Like North Miami Democratic Rep. Dotie Joseph did during the bill’s last committee stop, Hinson suggested that Florida should instead adopt the Jerusalem Declaration on Antisemitism’s definition, which does not include considerations for Israel commensurate with those of the IRHA’s definition.

Driskell thanked Gottlieb for working hard “to protect our Jewish brothers and sisters.”

“It’s very important that we do our part in the Legislature to stamp out hatred in the world,” she said. “But as an attorney, I also know there’s some things in this bill that we can continue working on to make the language even better.”

Joseph voted “no” on the bill. So did Democratic Reps. Anna Eskamani of Orlando and Angie Nixon of Jacksonville, both of whom cast the sole “yes” votes Nov. 7 for a resolution Nixon filed supporting a cease-fire in the Israel-Hamas conflict.

Berman’s bill (SB 148), filed two days after the massacre in Israel, has not yet received a hearing.

Post Views: 0


Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *