DeSantis signs legislation to combat antisemitism, boost security at Jewish schools

by | Jun 25, 2024



Gov. Ron DeSantis signed two bills into law to combat antisemitism and enhance security at Jewish day schools and preschools in Florida, defining antisemitism according to international standards and authorizing state funds for security upgrades.


Gov. Ron DeSantis signed two bills into law on Monday aimed at strengthening protections against antisemitism and improving security measures at Jewish day schools and preschools across Florida.

The first bill, House Bill 187, defines antisemitism in state statute in alignment with the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s standards to include both physical and verbal acts against Jewish individuals and their community institutions. The legislation specifies actions that are considered antisemitic, such as calling for, aiding, or justifying the harming of Jewish individuals in the name of radical ideology; making dehumanizing, demonizing, or stereotypical allegations about Jewish individuals; accusing Jewish individuals collectively of more loyalty to Israel than to their own nations; and denying the Holocaust’s facts or accusing Jewish individuals as a people of inventing or exaggerating it.

The change follows a reported increase in antisemitic incidents in Florida, which more than doubled from 2020 to 2022 according to the Anti-Defamation League.

“The Attorney General’s 2022 summary on hate crimes detailed a 54.7 percent overall increase in hate crimes in Florida between 2021 and 2022 and noted that in 2022, 23.6 percent of all reported hate crimes were motivated by religion,” a legislative analysis states. “Moreover, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) reports that since 2020, antisemitic incidents in Florida increased over 100 percent, rising from 127 incidents in 2020 to 269 incidents in 2022.”

HB 187 specifies that the definition of antisemitism does not include criticism of Israel that is similar to criticism of any other country.

House Bill 1109, sponsored by Rep. Randy Fine, focuses on enhancing security at Jewish educational institutions, authorizing state funds to be used for security upgrades like security cameras, perimeter fencing, and shatter-resistant glass on a recurring basis.

“HB 1109 makes Jewish Day Schools, which I have gotten money for on an ad hoc basis every year, eligible for recurring funding,” said Fine on X. “I’m proud to have led the most aggressive pro-Israel, antisemitism-fighting Agenda in America during my time in the House.”

Additional provisions in the bill allow for the hiring of licensed and insured security personnel and the implementation of other security measures deemed necessary based on risk assessments. This legislation comes after the state has allocated over $1 billion since 2018 towards school safety measures, spurred by the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

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