Florida Warns Schools Hate on Campus is Illegal

Florida educational institutions were reminded and warned of the penalties for allowing antisemitism on campus. In a letter dated October 9, 2023, Ray Rodrigues, Chancellor of the State University System of Florida, and Manny Diaz Jr., the Commissioner of Florida Education, clearly laid out the responsibility of every educational institution from kindergarten through college to combat anti-Semitic hate.

Florida has seen its share of student-led pro-Palestinian anti-Israel demonstrations since the Hamas attacks of October 7, some right here in Boca Raton at Florida Atlantic University, and this letter is an obvious warning that there will be consequences if our educational institutions allow it to continue.

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The letter first addresses the all-important issue that Israel has a right not just to protect itself but to respond with overwhelming force to the Hamas attacks.

This weekend, the world watched Hamas, an Iran-backed terrorist organization, commit a barbaric attack against Israel including innocent Israeli women, children, babies, and grandparents who were Holocaust survivors.  Israel not only has the right to defend itself against these heinous attacks, but it has a duty to respond with overwhelming force. Florida unequivocally stands with Israel and the Jewish people during this difficult moment in history.

The other day, my colleague Tracy Caruso wrote FAU Must Step Up & Take Action Against Pro-Palestinian Student Hate Groups, which questions why on-campus FAU student organizations like the Muslim Student Association are seemingly allowed to violate Florida law. At the same time, its leaders remain anonymous and hidden on the FAU website. 

The letter references House Bill 741, which was signed into law by Governor Ron DeSantis in 2019, and adds specific acts of antisemitism to Florida law for  K-20 public educational institutions.

Joint Memo – DOE BOG Legal Obligations 10-9-23

The letter goes on to reference Florida’s recently passed hate crime legislation. On April 28, 2023, Governor Ron DeSantis signed House Bill 269 in Israel to establish criminal penalties for committing certain anti-Semitic crimes. The bill was sponsored by State Rep. Randy Fine, R-Brevard, and State Rep. Mike Caruso, R-West Palm Beach, which provides criminal penalties for specific acts of antisemitism.

Governor DeSantis Signs Historic Hate Crime Bill in Israel

I am honored to stand with leadership from the House and Senate, both Republicans and Democrats, to condemn the heinous attacks by Hamas on innocent Israeli citizens. I am proud that Florida is standing United for Israel and its people and Jews throughout the world. ~Rep. Mike Caruso

The letter also warns that under Florida law, it’s a felony to provide any material support to Hamas, a designated terrorist organization.

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.

The other day, State Rep. Randy Fine delivered a powerful speech from Tallahassee that reflected how strongly Jewish people felt about the Hamas attacks and how all Floridians of goodwill also feel.

The educrats and students have been duly warned. If hate and celebration of the horrific terrorist Hamas slaughter of Jews reside in your heart, if you find joy in the beheading of Jewish babies, there’s no place for you in Florida education. Not as a student. Not as an administrator and not as a teacher.

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