Gov. DeSantis OKs adding definition of antisemitism to Florida law

Ron DeSantis
'We are taking a proactive stance to ensure that Florida remains a welcoming and inclusive place for everyone.'

After receiving unanimous support in a typically divided Legislature, a measure defining antisemitism in state law has earned the Governor’s signature.

Gov. Ron DeSantis approved legislation (HB 187) providing that Florida defines antisemitism as “a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews,” and rhetorical and manifestations of such hatred “directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals, their property, community institutions and religious facilities.”

The measure includes 11 examples of antisemitism that line up with its definition. They include “dehumanizing” stereotypes that Jews control industries and government, “demonizing” symbols and images associated with classic antisemitism such as blood libel, Holocaust denial, and double standards when criticizing Israel, the only Jewish-majority country.

But the measure explicitly provides that the term “antisemitism” does not apply to criticism of Israel that is similar to criticism of any other country. It also states that the measure “may not be construed to diminish or infringe upon any right protected under the First Amendment … or to conflict with federal or state antidiscrimination laws.”

The definition, which the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) adopted in 2016, already exists in Florida law already, but it’s tucked away in an education-specific portion of statutes.

The measure comes amid a staggering rise in hateful acts against Jews. It would not establish any new law or crime. Rather, the definition could be used in conjunction with Florida’s existing hate crime and discrimination statutes.

Antisemitic incidents in the U.S. surged 360%, according to the Anti-Defamation League, since the Oct. 7 attack in western Israel by Palestinian Hamas terrorists and the ensuing — and ongoing — war in Gaza.

Davie Democratic Rep. Mike Gottlieb sponsored the bill with Boynton Beach Democratic Sen. Lori Berman. Berman called the IHRA definition the “gold standard” that 43 United Nations member states and 11 U.S. states have adopted.

“By adopting the IHRA definition of antisemitism, we are sending a powerful message that discrimination against Jewish individuals will not be tolerated in our state,” she said. “We are taking a proactive stance to ensure that Florida remains a welcoming and inclusive place for everyone.”

HB 187 will go into effect July 1.

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.


  • Michael K

    June 24, 2024 at 9:32 pm

    No, governor. We are not all free. You seem to take pride in demeaning and criminalizing LGBTQ people. Do you not realize that hateful slurs incite violence against LGBTQ people just as they do against Jewish people? Until all if us are free, none of us are free.

    • My Take

      June 24, 2024 at 11:21 pm

      You are free to hate the people he and his supporters hate.

  • My Take

    June 24, 2024 at 11:43 pm

    A really sloppy definition apparently.
    What does the word “certain” do?
    Mainly hate? Nonsense. Systematc exclusion of Jews is/was usually from prejudice far lower than hate.
    And NON-JEW? Come on. Can unfairly treated Inuit sue under antisemitism articles?

  • Andward Lith

    June 26, 2024 at 10:34 pm

    So… it’s alright to express racism, homophobia, transphobia, sexism, and the like, but don’t you dare say anything that offends this one particular group, even if it’s true? Seems legit, and totally not unconstitutional.

  • Ana Gorin

    June 27, 2024 at 10:55 am

    Governor Di Santis l am very proud of you as a governor l reside in Miami for for 45 years and witnessed the growing of our State your love and dedication shows that being said l am Jewish and disagree with the stand that is ok to criticize Israel
    But not tolerance for antisemitism well let me tell you the state of Israel and the Jewish people is one when you criticize either you are offending all of us it isn’t acceptable we have to respect other nations and their decisions that is what brings antisemitism with that being said l wish you lots of good things in your career all the best

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