After House drama, unified Senate passes Israel resolution, Jewish day school security bill
TALLAHASSEE, FLA. 1/4/23-Sen. Lori Berman, D-Boynton Beach, during the Senate Education Pre-K-12 Committee, Wednesday at the Capitol in Tallahassee. COLIN HACKLEY PHOTO

'I will call out members of my own political party who are lying about the current war and who are promoting antisemitism.'

A day after a House session that featured members accusing two Democratic colleagues of being antisemitic and “evil,” a unified Senate passed a resolution supporting Israel and bills to increase security grants for Jewish day schools and expand sanctions on Iran.

“We unequivocally support the right of the state of Israel to exist as a sovereign and independent nation,” said Sen. Lori Berman, a Lantana Democrat who sponsored the resolution. “We support the right of the state of Israel to defend itself and protect its citizens from indiscriminate violence and acts of terrorism.”

Berman, who is Jewish, said she wrote the resolution on Oct. 7, the day of the Hamas terrorist attacks in Israel that killed 1,400 civilians and in which more than 200 people were kidnapped. Since then, Israel has responded by attacking Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip, where the initial attack was launched.

The resolution was unanimously supported in the Senate, in stark contrast to the House, where a similar resolution passed Tuesday 108-0, but another resolution further condemning the Hamas attacks passed 103-3.

Yet another resolution calling for a cease-fire in the war that resulted from the attacks — sponsored by Rep. Angie Nixon, a Jacksonville Democrat — was voted down 104-2. Rep. Anna Eskamani, an Orlando Democrat, joined Nixon voting in favor.

During the debate over the resolutions, Rep. Mike Gottlieb, a Davie Democrat, suggested Nixon’s resolution was antisemitic. Rep. Randy Fine, a Brevard County Republican and the only GOP Jewish member of the Legislature, went further.

“There is evil in this room and we fight it here today,” Fine stated during the debate. “And their names are Anna Eskamani and Angie Nixon,” he added in a post on X, the site formerly known as Twitter, later on Tuesday.

There was no such clash on the Senate floor, but there was still evidence of the tension within the Democratic Party in Florida and across the country over the war in Israel and Gaza.

“There are Jews who are being terrorized here in the U.S. for simply being Jewish,” said Sen. Tina Polsky, a Boca Raton Democrat. “We cannot accept this behavior from the right-wing neo-Nazis, nor from the left wing on college campuses. I will call out members of my own political party who are lying about the current war and who are promoting antisemitism.”

During another debate over HB 7C, Black Democrats consistently implored their colleagues to spend more money on security grants for historically Black colleges and universities, or HBCUs. The bill sets aside $25 million specifically for Jewish day schools, while $20 million is set aside for all other nonprofits.

Sen. Tracie Davis, a Jacksonville Democrat, teared up as she discussed a shooting in Jacksonville in August, where a gunman at first sought to strike at Edward Waters University, an HBCU, before being thwarted by campus security. Instead, he killed three Black people at a nearby discount store.

“My ask is that we have a pot (of money) as a priority for HBCUs as well,” Davis said. “We can have a pot for our Jewish day schools, we can have a pot for our HBCUs and we can have a pot for our nonprofit entities.”

The Senate also unanimously passed HB 1C, a $417 million package to help Panhandle areas recover from Hurricane Idalia; HB 3C, a measure removing the cap on vouchers for special needs students; and HB 5C, which extends the ban on state investments and dealings with companies doing business with Iran.

The bills will next head to the desk of Gov. Ron DeSantis.

Gray Rohrer


  • It’s Complicated

    November 8, 2023 at 2:13 pm

    Calling fellow members “evil” by name on the House Floor is arguably a violation of Florida House Rule 15.1 (Member Ethics & Conduct) or 15.2 (Respecting the Integrity of the House). Doubt anything will become of it, but it is interesting to note.

    The resolution was ill conceived. Nixon must be tone deaf to not know she could only muster one additional vote for it.

  • My Take

    November 8, 2023 at 2:45 pm

    Calling fellow members “evil” by name
    If you are merely for Israel’s safety, but are not a Likud- licker, don’t dare open your mouth.

  • My Take

    November 9, 2023 at 10:13 am

    Does anti-Israel feeling turn into anti-Jewish hate in the US.
    I don’t know. Don’t see it close up.
    But Israel’s stated intents in Gaza are going to give it a test.
    For some reason unknown, they plan to lebel Gaza City after the occupy it.
    And many of the former residents will perish in the south.
    (Even the West Bank is now being bombed.))
    It will be interesting to see how US media cover it all.

    • It’s Complicated

      November 10, 2023 at 11:00 am

      At the very least Israel won’t pull out until the 300+ miles of Hamas tunnels and weapons caches – particularly the rockets, are destroyed, and any hostages still living are recovered. I seriously doubt Israel want or plan to occupy Gaza, because that would prolong the tit for tat daily bloodletting by both sides.

Comments are closed.


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