Governor DeSantis's unwavering commitment to Florida's Jewish communities
August 5, 2022
When he took the oath of office, Governor Ron DeSantis promised to be the most pro-Israel governor in the nation and he has delivered.
Our governor has proven time and time again his commitment to combatting antisemitism and standing with Florida’s Jewish communities. Governor DeSantis allocated millions of dollars to guard and protect Jewish schools, synagogues, and other institutions all across Florida. He has also worked to ensure the next generation of Floridians never forget the evils of the Holocaust.
Fighting antisemitism in Florida
“We all need to speak with one voice and say that antisemitism is not something that’s going to be tolerated,” said Governor DeSantis as he delivered remarks at a town hall briefing on antisemitism in Tallahassee, Florida in 2019.
“We are going to stand with our Jewish brothers and sisters and we are absolutely going to stand strong in support of the Florida-Israel relationship. The Legislature and I have worked really hard on a lot of great legislation over the past few years on issues including Holocaust education, anti-BDS legislation, security for synagogues and Jewish day schools, and so much more”
In June 2020, Governor DeSantis signed into law HB 1213 to further require and facilitate Holocaust education in Florida’s schools and designated the second week in November as “Holocaust Education Week” in recognition of Kristallnacht, which is often recognized as one of the precipitating events that led to the Holocaust.
Governor DeSantis has also allocated millions of dollars for Jewish institutions in Florida, including $4 million in security funding for Florida’s Jewish Day Schools, $1.35 million for the Florida Holocaust Museum in St. Pete, $400,000 for the Holocaust Memorial in Miami, and $1 million in recurring funds for collaborative research in a partnership with Israel related to Space Florida.
Fostered a stronger-than-ever relationship between Florida and Israel
Governor DeSantis fulfilled his promise when he made his first overseas trip to Israel. Governor DeSantis brought 100 Floridians from across the state in the largest-ever trade mission to Israel. Governor DeSantis held the first-ever Florida cabinet meeting at the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem, where he signed an important bill to prohibit antisemitic discrimination against Jewish students in Florida’s educational institutions to combat campus antisemitism.
Governor DeSantis said, “anti-Semitism has no place in our state and our educational institutions will not tolerate discrimination against the Jewish people.”
Governor DeSantis also held meetings with top Israeli political leaders and met with leading Israeli companies and business leaders across a wide array of industries. By the end of the trip, over 20 strategic partnerships and memorandums of understandings were signed, strengthening the scientific, business, and academic ties between Florida and Israel. Governor DeSantis also held meetings with Israeli victims of Palestinian terrorism, visited Yad Vashem (Israel’s Holocaust Museum), and reaffirmed his opposition to BDS during a historic meeting in Gush Etzion.
Standing with Israel
Governor DeSantis cherishes America’s relationship with the sole democracy in the Middle East and one of America’s closest allies in the world.
In an age when it has become wrongly fashionable to malign the Jewish state, Governor DeSantis has repeatedly and without hesitation stood up for Israel. When Ben & Jerry’s announced that it would halt sale of its products in parts of Israel — what they deemed the “Occupied Palestinian Territory” — the governor enforced Florida’s anti-BDS law.
The governor last year sent a strong letter to the State Board of Administration to place Ben & Jerry’s and its parent company, Unilever, on the “Continued Examination Companies that Boycott Israel List” and to subsequently place both companies on the “Scrutinized Companies that Boycott Israel List.”
“As a matter of law and principle, the State of Florida does not tolerate discrimination against the State of Israel or the Israeli people,” the governor declared in July 2021.
Governor DeSantis took the same steps against Airbnb when they similarly announced engagement in antisemitic BDS against Israel. It was Governor DeSantis’s speaking out against Airbnb that eventually led to the company reversing its decision.
Governor DeSantis’s support for Israel has been evident long before he became Governor. During his time in Congress, he was one of the strongest supporters of Israel. He opposed the disastrous nuclear deal with Iran, strongly supported military assistance to Israel, and engaged in efforts to hold the Palestinian leadership accountable for its incitement and support for terrorism. Governor DeSantis led the fight in encouraging President Trump to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s eternal capital, move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, and recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights.
Governor DeSantis’s strong record against antisemitism and other forms of hatred is clear. He will always support Israel and the Jewish people.
Daniel T. Layish MD,FACP,FCCP,FAASM, is associate professor of Medicine, University of Central Florida College of Medicine; clinical associate professor, Florida State University College of Medicine; and a board-certified internal medicine, pulmonary disease, critical care and sleep medicine physician at Central Florida Pulmonary Group, P.A.