DeSantis Orders Crackdown on Pro-Hamas Student Groups for Violating State Law

Governor Ron DeSantis is cracking down on pro-Hamas student groups in the state of Florida. On Tuesday, DeSantis instructed the Florida university system to begin suspending student organizations that have shown support for Hamas terrorism, citing state law. The move follows a wave of pro-Hamas demonstrations on campuses around the country, resulting from the brutal Oct. 7 attack on Israel that left more than 1,400 people dead.

“During a holy Jewish holiday, the recognized terrorist organization, Hamas, launched an unprovoked attack on Israel – among those killed were babies, women, and elderly,” Ray Rodrigues, the chancellor of the State University System of Florida, said in a letter this week announcing the crackdown.

The letter identified two Florida chapters of the National Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) as having violated state law by giving “material support … to a designated foreign terrorist organization.” According to Rodrigues, the SJP published a “toolkit” following the attacks that identified Hamas as part of “the resistance” and stated that “Palestinian students in exile are PART of this movement, not in solidarity with this movement.”

“These chapters exist under the headship of the National Students for Justice in Palestine, who distributed a toolkit identifying themselves as part of the Operation AlAqsa Flood,” Rodrigues said in the letter. “Based on the National SJP’s support of terrorism, in consultation with Governor DeSantis, the student chapters must be deactivated. These two student chapters may form another organization that complies with Florida state statutes and university policies. The two institutions should grant these two chapters a waiver for the fall deadlines, should reapplication take place.”

The chapters are reportedly registered at the University of North Florida in Jacksonville and Florida State University in Tallahassee.

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The crackdown represents the first significant action taken nationwide to address the recent rise in violence and antisemitism on American campuses.

Tensions have flared on Florida campuses this month as pro-Hamas groups have celebrated the attacks and issued anti-Semitic statements. Florida Atlantic University–which hosts at least four Palestinian student groups–became the site of one such incident after a pro-Hamas rally turned violent. At least three people were arrested, and one student was charged with felony battery for attacking a pro-Israeli woman.

Lawmakers, including State Rep. Mike Caruso (R-West Palm Beach), have since been calling for accountability. In an Oct. 13 letter to FAU Interim President Stacy Volnik, Caruso warned that the activities of the pro-Hamas Muslim Student Association may have violated state law.

“In light of recent events at FAU, it is our collective responsibility to ensure that we do not remain silent in the face of violence and hate. Acts of antisemitism, or any form of discrimination, are unequivocally unacceptable, and they should be condemned in the strongest possible terms.

I request your urgent attention to the situation at FAU and implore you to take the necessary steps outlined in HB 741. This includes treating acts of anti-Semitism the same way you would treat acts of racism.” ~ Rep. Mike Caruso to Stacy Volnik

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The Florida university system had also issued warnings leading up to the crackdown, reminding schools of the penalties for allowing antisemitism to run rampant on campus.

An Oct. 9 letter from Rodrigues and Florida Education Commissioner Manny Diaz Jr. outlined the responsibilities of Florida universities.

“The State of Florida will not tolerate anti-Semitic violence, intimidation, harassment, or threats against Jewish students, employees, or communities. It is important to also emphasize that Hamas is a designated terrorist organization. And under § 775.33, Florida Statutes, it is a first-degree felony for any person to provide material support or resources to Hamas, or any designated foreign terrorist organization.  Any individual or student organization providing support to support or resources to Hamas, or any designated foreign terrorist organization will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”

Other stories you may want to read:

FAU Must Step Up & Take Action Against Pro-Palestinian Student Hate Groups

Florida Warns Schools Hate on Campus is Illegal

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