Last Call — A prime-time read of what’s going down in Florida politics.
Amid alarming statistics showing a spike in antisemitism, seven Jewish organizations in Florida are uniting lawmakers and law enforcement for a virtual Town Hall to discuss “meaningful policy changes.”
The biggest name at the Town Hall will be Gov. Ron DeSantis. DeSantis’ attendance isn’t surprising for a Governor who traveled all the way to Jerusalem in 2019 to sign a bill that made religion a protected class in the state education system. Other speakers will be Congressman Vern Buchanan, State Rep. Ben Diamond, State Rep. Fiona McFarland, State Attorney Andrew Warren, St. Petersburg Police Chief Anthony Holloway and David Harris, CEO of the American Jewish Committee.
The issue of antisemitism has taken on urgency in recent weeks after several highly-publicized antisemitic incidents. In St. Pete, swastikas were graffitied on the Florida Holocaust Museum. In Bal Harbour, a Jewish family was harassed outside a synagogue with a driver yelling slurs and throwing garbage at them.
Those incidents aren’t isolated. Antisemitism in Florida, according to the Anti-Defamation League, saw a 40% spike from 2019 to 2020. The group said the tension in the Middle East between Israel and Hamas has caused “a dangerous and drastic surge in anti-Jewish hate” in the U.S., according to the Anti-Defamation League. According to the FBI, in 2019, 60% of all hate crimes in the U.S. targeted Jews.
And those statistics may not even show the full extent of the problem because reporting hate crimes to the FBI is purely voluntary under federal law.
One new federal law that recently passed, the Jabara-Heyer NO HATE Act, seeks to improve hate crimes data collection. At the Town Hall, expect at least some attendees to call for Congress to fully fund that law. Also, some attendees are expected to call for Congress to double the amount of funding for the Nonprofit Security Grant Program to $360 million to protect faith-based institutions.
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Quote of the Day
“If you’re somebody that will light your hair on fire because Georgia is requiring voter ID, but yet you’re lining your pocket with money from China and not a peep about the slave labor that’s going on over there, you, my friend, are a hypocrite.” — Gov. Ron DeSantis, signing a bill to curb Chinese influence in government and education.
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