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Giving Hate No Residence in Florida: Representative Michael Gottlieb’s Antisemitism Bill Signed Into Law

July 4, 2024

In a decisive move to combat the rising tide of Antisemitism, Florida has made a significant legislative stride. This month, Governor Ron DeSantis signed into law House Bill 187, a landmark piece of legislation that codifies the definition of Antisemitism as established by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA). This new law aims to provide clear guidelines and examples to help identify and address Antisemitic behavior, marking a pivotal step in the fight against hate and intolerance.

Recent surveys reveal a concerning trend: nearly a third of Americans are either unsure of what Antisemitism means. This lack of awareness poses a significant challenge in addressing the issue effectively. The IHRA definition of Antisemitism serves as a crucial educational tool, clarifying what constitutes Antisemitic behavior while ensuring that the exercise of First Amendment rights remains unimpeded. By providing precise explanations and practical examples, the IHRA definition helps individuals—from police officers to students—recognize and stand against Antisemitism.

The Significance of The New Law

House Bill 187, championed by Representative Michael Gottlieb (D-Davie), adopts the IHRA’s working definition of Antisemitism. According to the bill, Antisemitism is defined as “a certain perception of Jewish individuals which may be expressed as hatred toward such individuals.” This definition encompasses both rhetorical and physical manifestations of Antisemitism, targeting not only Jewish individuals but also their property, community institutions, and religious facilities. By embedding this definition into all sections of Florida law, the bill ensures a comprehensive approach to combating Antisemitism.

Representative Gottlieb expressed his gratitude and pride in the unanimous support the bill received from both the House and Senate. “I applaud and humbly thank my fellow legislators in the House and Senate who stood shoulder-to-shoulder and worked with me to unanimously pass this vital legislation to protect our brothers and sisters,” he stated. He highlighted the urgency of the situation, noting the unprecedented rise in Antisemitic incidents following Hamas’ terror assault on October 7th. Gottlieb emphasized that the law sends a clear message: “Hate will not be tolerated in our State. Florida condemns all Hate Crimes, and we will remain steadfast in our commitment to fighting for Jews everywhere to be able to live and worship safely and freely.”

The passage of the law is expected to have a profound impact on the state’s efforts to combat Antisemitism. By providing a clear and actionable definition of Antisemitism, the law equips Law Enforcement, Educators, and Community Leaders with the tools they need to recognize and address Antisemitic behavior effectively. This, in turn, can help prevent incidents of hate and intolerance from escalating into violence.

Furthermore, the bill introduces criminal penalties for Antisemitic and Racist Activities, reinforcing the state’s Zero-Tolerance stance on Hate Crimes. This legislative framework not only enhances protection for the Jewish community but also serves as a deterrent to those who might engage in Antisemitic behavior.

The enactment of HB 187 places Florida at the forefront of the national fight against Antisemitism. The state’s proactive approach serves as a model for other states grappling with similar issues. By adopting the IHRA definition, Florida aligns itself with international standards for identifying and combating Antisemitism, fostering a united front against hate.

The bill has garnered widespread support from various sectors, including Law Enforcement, Educational Institutions, and Civil Rights Organizations. Many see it as a crucial step in addressing not just Antisemitism but also the broader spectrum of Hate Crimes that have been on the rise in recent years.

A Call to Action

Combating Antisemitism requires ongoing efforts to raise awareness, promote understanding, and foster an environment of respect and inclusivity. The law provides a robust foundation, but it is the collective responsibility of all Floridians to build upon it.

Representative Gottlieb’s words resonate strongly in this context: “We must remain vigilant in protecting our communities. We must do everything within our means to thwart the unparalleled rise in Antisemitic incidents.” This sentiment underscores the importance of community involvement and solidarity in the fight against hate.

By working together, Florida can set a powerful example of how to give hate no residence and ensure a safer, more inclusive future for all.

As the law comes into effect, it is incumbent upon every Floridian to support and uphold its principles, fostering a community where everyone can live without fear of hatred or discrimination.

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