Gov. DeSantis signs law cracking down on hate speech, says Florida ‘led the way’ fighting antisemitism
In Israel, Ron DeSantis inches closer to an

Israel US DeSantis
DeSantis signed the law, effective immediately, during an overseas stop in Jerusalem.

On the same day he delivered a keynote speech at the Museum of Tolerance in Israel, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a law designed to curb a disturbing rise in antisemitism across Florida.

The measure (HB 269), titled “Public Nuisances,” makes it a felony to harass people for their religion or ethnicity. It also penalizes leaving flyers with hateful images, messages or any other ‘credible threat” on a person’s private property.

Despite arguments from the public that the bill, however well intentioned, hampers people’s First Amendment Rights, it ultimately cleared both chambers of the Legislature this month with unanimous support.

DeSantis signed the bill, effective immediately, during an overseas stop in Jerusalem while flanked by its two Republican sponsors, Delray Beach Rep. Mike Caruso and Palm Bay Rep. Randy Fine.

Republican Miami Sen. Alexis Calatayud carried a similar version of the bill in the Senate.

“I will not stand here and do nothing. I will not be complacent, and I will not sit around. With that attitude, are we just going to wait for these haters to start breaking the glass windows and storefronts of the Jewish store owners again, like they did in the past, before we wake up?” Caruso said when announcing the legislation in January.

“I hope I speak for all the legislators, my fellow legislators, that enough is enough.”

Agudath Israel of America, which represents Haredi Orthodox Jews, applauded DeSantis for signing the bill, which the organization signaled support for while it moved through the committee process.

“Gov. DeSantis once again has shown that he is committed to fighting antisemitism not just with words and condemnations but with concrete action,” said Rabbi Moshe Matz, who leads the group’s Florida office. “The state of Florida was facing a very specific and targeted campaign from antisemites and came together in a bipartisan manner (to) pass a bill … that will hopefully put a stop to these displays of hate.”

The new law comes amid an all-time high in hate acts against Florida Jews, according to the Anti-Defamation League, which tracked 269 antisemitic incidents in the Sunshine State in 2022 — a 42% increase from the year prior and more than double the number in 2020.

That included projections of antisemitic messages and swastikas on buildings in downtown West Palm Beach and Jacksonville and antisemitic flyers left outside of homes in Boca Raton.

Similar flyers popped up in Fort Myers, Fort Pierce, Jacksonville, Miami, Naples, Orlando, Punta Gorda, Sarasota and Vero Beach in July, prompting calls for a federal probe into the matter.

Earlier still, bigots hung banners over overpasses urging drivers to “end Jewish supremacy,” blasted light projections in Jacksonville saying Kanye West was “right about the Jews,” and hoisted a Nazi flag outside Disney World.

Those acts prompted officials in Palm Beach County and Jacksonville to propose legislation criminalizing the projection of unauthorized light displays on buildings, with the latter passing an emergency measure to do just that.

More recently, antisemites gathered in Florida for a “day of hate” in February that included the harassment of Jews outside a Chabad center in Orlando. DeSantis directed the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to dedicated additional resources to tamp down similar acts.

The signing of HB 269 did little to quash criticism a Democratic coalition of Jewish American citizens lodged at DeSantis for saying during his Museum of Tolerance speech that Florida has “led the way on combating the scourge of antisemitism.”

That’s an outrageous assertion, the Jewish Democratic Council of America (JDCA) said, considering the Governor’s slow response to neo-Nazi rally in Orlando, the “tepid” attention he and his staff paid to more than a year’s worth of hateful protests and his use of the antisemitic dog whistles of claiming George Soros controls elected officials.

That flub and other, more deliberate actions DeSantis has taken while in office, the group said, highlight why the setting of his speech is inappropriate at best.

The group cited legislation DeSantis signed restricting LGBTQ-inclusive instruction in school, a congressional map his office produced that erased two Black-performing districts and Florida-funded “political stunt” of flying migrants from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard.

“DeSantis has no business speaking at the Museum of Tolerance unless he was aiming to serve as an example of intolerance that has been normalized by the Republican Party in recent years,” the JDCSA said in a statement.

“(DeSantis saying) that, in Florida ‘we treat antisemitism the way we treat racism’ … is only true in the sense that (his) policies have emboldened both antisemites and racists in Florida and beyond.”

The Governor’s stop in Jerusalem, which coincides with the 75th anniversary of Israel’s founding, is part of a global trade mission he’s taking this week funded by Enterprise Florida, a public-private agency GOP state lawmakers agreed to defund Tuesday.

During his speech at the “Celebrate the Faces of Israel” event, DeSantis spoke of his “long track record of support” for the U.S.-Israel alliance and his vision for their joint future.

“Israel stands tall as a beacon of freedom in a troubled region, an engine of economic growth and opportunity and center of innovation and technology that is the envy of the world,” he said.

“Israel is also one of America’s most valued and trusted allies. Maintaining a strong Israel relationship has been a priority for me during my time in elected office, and I know it’s been a priority for the overwhelming majority of the American people.”

He discussed several policies friendly to Israel and Jewish people under his administration, including policies he began in 2019 to punish companies that participate in the “boycott, divestment and sanctions” movement protesting Israel-Palestinian relations and add religion as a protected class for students and public school employees.

He also noted “millions and millions of dollars” apportioned yearly in Florida’s budget to Jewish day schools, museums and memorials throughout the state.

DeSantis did not detail what he said in response to the many antisemitic demonstrations that have taken place since he took office. He has mostly left that to members of his staff, for better or worse, though he did describe Democratic complaints in early 2022 that he wasn’t speaking out against hatred as an attempt to “smear” him.

Jesse Scheckner

Jesse Scheckner has covered South Florida with a focus on Miami-Dade County since 2012. His work has been recognized by the Hearst Foundation, Society of Professional Journalists, Florida Society of News Editors, Florida MMA Awards and Miami New Times. Email him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @JesseScheckner.


32 comments

  • Billy the Bamboozler

    April 27, 2023 at 7:22 pm

    Also, make it a law to where religious people can’t come to my door and harass me or pass out fliers in public and harass people to join their cult. That’s only fair. Also, you’re passing laws with religious motivations so potentially that could cause some hatred in itself. As for the right wing nuts, you can thank right wing politics for making that a bigger trend. This stuff wasn’t as bad as it became under Trump and during Obama when conservatives were whipping up hate because Obama was black and had an Islamic middle name. Conservatives create problems and then use those problems to justify laws. This is about all they do. Otherwise just ensure that money flows upward and never down.

    • Scot

      April 27, 2023 at 8:03 pm

      This. I find it deeply sus anytime Grand Moff DeSantis does anything that on casual inspection, sounds like a public good. It usually ends up as flagrant pandering to a donor population, or a weak sauce attempt to be able to show that yes, he did too pass legislation against hatred. After championing a law which would make it legal to just go ahead and kill pedestrian protesters, who dare to walk into the street. How shall we define hate? How about “my supporters to get to kill my enemies, if they break minor traffic laws .“ That seems fairly hateful.

    • Robert B

      April 30, 2023 at 7:38 am

      That is a very hateful attitude.

  • American

    April 28, 2023 at 1:49 am

    They’re making the first amendment illegal.

    • Donkey Pox is the Real Disease

      April 30, 2023 at 12:44 pm

      Exactly. This is a terrible law.

    • Danny

      April 30, 2023 at 3:00 pm

      That’s exactly right. This bill allows the government to punish you for what you say and deem anything they want as hate speech. This is clearly unconstitutional and I hope it gets overturned. Desantis has disappointed many recently.

  • Michael K

    April 28, 2023 at 7:50 am

    But apparently hate speech is just fine so long as the target is LGBTQ people – in fact, it’s practically state sanctioned – looking at you Randy Fine.

    And make no mistake: anti-Black language and policies are alive and thriving in the “free” state of Florida under the banner of “election integrity.”

  • Elliott Offen

    April 28, 2023 at 2:38 pm

    Next up, one year in the county jail for DUI.. and death penalty for drugs. It will be like Singapore here.. only religious people will be left.. state will collapse.

  • Dave

    April 29, 2023 at 2:47 am

    “Hate Speech” is still protected under the Constitution. In a Supreme Court case on the issue, Matal v. Tam (2017), the justices unanimously reaffirmed that there is effectively no “hate speech” exception to the free speech rights protected by the First Amendment and that the U.S. government may not discriminate against speech on the basis of the speaker’s viewpoint.

    • capt. obvious

      April 29, 2023 at 7:48 pm

      National Socialist Party of America v. Village of Skokie

      is posting that now a crime?

    • Joe

      May 6, 2023 at 9:03 am

      There is no such thing as hate speech. Anyone who supports this is antiamerican.

      These flyers were all facts.

  • pressley

    April 29, 2023 at 7:47 pm

    Why does the Governor want to abolish freedom of speech??? While at it outlaw hate speech against Dr. Fauci.

  • pressley

    April 29, 2023 at 7:49 pm

    OMG who will determine what hate speech is? A censor czar hired by the Governer??? what if a Democrat is governor than what?

  • Harry Wheeler

    April 29, 2023 at 8:15 pm

    Why is Israel lobbying states for anti-BDS laws?
    So far, 36 states have enacted laws punishing state contractors if they “boycott” commerce with Israel. This may force some contractors to do business only with them, even in bidding contracts.
    Waiting for the other shoe to drop.
    https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/anti-bds-legislation

  • Jay Minasi

    April 29, 2023 at 8:42 pm

    i am saddened to learn that DeSantis is also owned by the people who own Trump and who are the reason Israel is the worst terror state in the world. Oh you stupid people, do you know realize that Zionism is the reason for bad feelings for Jews. Take away Zionism and Antisemitism drops way off.

    • Bterclinger

      April 30, 2023 at 2:14 am

      Yeah allow nationalism for so-called “palestinians” but not for Jews! We hate Jews b/c Zionism gives them ONE NATION that will fight back against islamonazis like you who want to exterminate Jews b/c they have the gall to want to live in the place REFERRED TO AS THE HOME OF THE JEWS millennia before the founding of Christianity or Islam.

      • Robert B

        April 30, 2023 at 7:42 am

        You are full of hate and should be prosecuted.

  • BasedRedPill

    April 29, 2023 at 9:04 pm

    “Those who say they are Jews but are not but are the Synagogue of Satan.” Trump, DeSatan, FBI, etc. are all puppets to the Jews who are not Gods chosen people.

    The Israelites are Gods chosen people and they are white. AntiSemetic is not people who hate Jews but are who Jews hate.

  • Patrick M OConnell

    April 29, 2023 at 9:16 pm

    Yall need to understand Jesus was a Jew, heeb….whatever you morons call them. What are you?

    • BasedRedPill

      April 29, 2023 at 10:45 pm

      Jesus was not a Jew!

      Jesus was an Israelite. He was a direct descendant of Levi
      through Aaron. Levi was a son of Jacob. Jacob was named Israel
      by God. Jesus was also a direct descendant of Judah through
      David. Judah was also a son of Jacob. Jacob’s sons were the first
      Israelites. Jesus was specifically an Israelite because he was a
      direct descendant of two of the sons of Jacob/Israel.
      Why then, does everyone say that Jesus was a Jew? Most people
      think that Jesus was a Jew, but Jesus was an Israelite, not a Jew.
      Israelites were the ones who were called the chosen people of
      God. Edomites, and their descendants, now called Jews, are not
      the chosen people. The fact that modern day Jews want us to
      think they are descended from Israelites is one of the greatest
      intentional lies, or misunderstandings, in all of history.
      First, was Jesus a Jew as far as his religion was concerned? No,
      his religion was Hebrewism; or, as we now call it, the Religion of
      the Old Testament. That religion was the religion of the Hebrews
      and the Israelites, and was based on the Law of Moses and the
      teachings of the prophets. Jesus criticized the Jews, or Pharisees,
      for establishing Judaism which is based on the Talmud, and which
      at the time of Jesus was still called the Tradition of the Elders.
      Second, was Jesus a Jew by ancestry? Jews were not Israelites
      as they were not descended from Jacob. They were descended
      from Esau, the brother of Jacob. While both were grandsons of
      Abraham and sons of Isaac, Jacob was favored by God. Esau’s
      descendants were called Edomites, and later they were called
      Jews since many of them were then living in Judea because the
      Edomites had been captured by John Hyrcanus and forced to
      convert to the religion then in place in Judea. Jesus stated in
      Matthew, “I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of
      Israel.” When Jesus sent his disciples out to spread his message
      he told them, “Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city
      of the Samaritans enter ye not: But go rather to the lost sheep of
      the house of Israel.” The Jews were not a part of the sheep of the
      house of Israel that Jesus talked about. Note that it is not the fact
      that the Jews did not believe in the message of Jesus that made
      them not of his sheep. Jesus knew that it was because they were
      not of his sheep that they did not believe in his message.
      Therefore, Jesus in his own words gave us proof that the Jews
      were not of his sheep, the house of Israel. They were not
      Israelites. Jesus knew that they didn’t have the same religion or
      ancestry that he had.
      The Jews at the time of Jesus were not a part of any tribe of
      Israel, including the Tribe of Judah. They were a mixture of
      Babylonians, Cannanites, Hittites, but mainly Edomites. The Jews
      of today are the descendants of those people. Jesus was not a
      Jew but was actually an Israelite, as he was descended from Levi
      through Aaron and Zadok. He was also an Israelite because he
      was descended from Judah through David. Both Levi and Judah
      were sons of Jacob who was renamed Israel by God. During his
      ministry Jesus had many battles with the Pharisees who were
      Edomite Jews, and not Israelites. The Pharisees were not
      respected by Jesus because they enforced the Tradition of the
      Elders, later known as Judaism, which Jesus did not accept. Also,
      Jesus did not respect them because he knew that they were
      Edomite Jews and not Israelites.
      Jesus was of the religion of Hebrewism, or, as we call it today, the
      Religion of the Old Testament, and he was an Israelite of the
      Tribes of Levi and Judah. So, contrary to what is said or written
      about Jesus being a Jew, he was not a Jew either by religion or by
      ancestry.

  • Jerry

    April 29, 2023 at 9:35 pm

    I wonder when they catch the antisemitic graffiti artist, and they’re Jewish, will they charge them too??
    Fakehatecrimes dot organization

  • T. Cutter

    April 29, 2023 at 9:35 pm

    To paraphrase Orwell “if you want to know who rules over you, look at who you are not allowed to criticize.”

  • ross

    April 29, 2023 at 9:35 pm

    Yes, it is a growing problem, but there are already a number of laws available to prosecute actions designed to intimidate.

  • Feank

    April 29, 2023 at 10:36 pm

    Will this be heard by the FL state supreme court?
    One might not like what one is saying, but when did we become so sensitive to words, instead of not paying any mind?
    Even though I may not like the message, and disagree with what a person is saying, I still fully believe in the first amendment.
    I feel as if this is overblown to achieve the goal of silencing opposition.
    This WILL be weaponized. Seems to me that a certain demographic doesnt like free speech, and uses the same ole crutch to silence criticism. At the same time, love to stir the pot over fictitious
    “White Supremacy”.
    Randy fine being part of this demographic, is definitely more than biased.
    Why just a bill for the tribe?
    So it makes it ok to be ugly towards Blacks, Latinos, and Whites?
    FRD

  • Jimmmmy

    April 29, 2023 at 11:47 pm

    Shabbat Goy

    • BasedRedPill

      April 30, 2023 at 12:43 pm

      Hell awaits you, Jew.

      Read Obadiah.

  • Jimmmmmy

    April 29, 2023 at 11:49 pm

    How about the anti Gentile immigration policies? It’s called the Kalergi plan. Written by a JEW.

  • Jason

    April 30, 2023 at 1:42 am

    It’s true.

    Misfits and social degenerates are going around our neighborhoods “trying to hate”. We have a large Jewish community. They don’t deserve the level of harassment , that those idiots I described above , are inflicting.

    The traveling circle of hatred. Everyday, a new victim.
    It’s obvious , even for a hard right of center guy like me.

  • veritas_magi

    April 30, 2023 at 7:03 am

    I agree no one should be harassed or have flyers put on their private property, but public spaces are free-speech zones. No group should have special privileges or protections. It’s unconstitutional. Everyone get’s to express views, whether “offensive” or not.

  • ontoiran

    April 30, 2023 at 12:30 pm

    so anti first amendment then. good to know

  • Former Liberal

    May 1, 2023 at 6:57 am

    I don’t want to get into arguments about who the “real” jews are. But it’s ridiculous, pathetic and alarming that a people who have been hated throughout history now tries to ban free speech.

  • Ian

    May 7, 2023 at 8:17 pm

    Well done Governor DeSantis! Why were at it I also have some books that I would like to burn. Let’s get on that shall we?

Comments are closed.


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