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Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida is off to Israel next month having voiced no concern about a three-fold increase in antisemitic incidents during his time in office.
DeSantis last visited Israel in 2019, shortly after he was first elected. He prayed at the Wailing Wall and signed a bill in Jerusalem outlawing antisemitism in Florida’s public schools. The wife of now-deceased GOP megadonor Sheldon Adelson introduced DeSantis at an event there just as he likes to imagine himself.
“Ron is a warrior,” Miriam Adelson said.
In the ensuing years, the self-anointed culture warrior did battle against whatever he deemed “woke” as if the future of the American way of life was at stake. An ad during his re-election campaign in 2022 began with the voice of the Almighty saying, “And on the 8th day, God looked down on his planned paradise and said, ‘I need a protector.’ So, God made a fighter.’”
But DeSantis failed to show that fighting spirit when a band of neo-Nazis staged a series of demonstrations in Orlando in January of last year. A passing motorist named Luke Denton tweeted a widely circulated video of figures wearing swastika armbands giving Nazi salutes as they shouted, “Heil Hilter!… No more Jews!… White Power!… There’s a Jew, look at him!”
Denton wrote, “I really can’t believe we’re seeing Nazis in 2022. FYI: I am of Jewish descent and a large portion of my family was killed in the holocaust.”
DeSantis said not a word about it for more than a week—until he was asked directly during a press conference about the Everglades. This God-sent “protector” and “warrior” mildly described the swastika-waving, hate-spewing antisemites as just “some jackass doing this on the street.”
In a tweet that she subsequently deleted, a DeSantis spokesperson asked, “Do we even know they’re Nazis?” DeSantis tried to turn the whole thing around by contending that those who criticized his initial silence were trying to “use this as some type of political issue,” and “smear” him.
“We’re not playing their game,” DeSantis said.
DeSantis cited his support for the Jewish community, which included the antisemitism bill he signed in Jerusalem, funding for Jewish schools, and sanctions against companies that boycott Israel.
That was all true, but even as DeSantis delivered a passionate anti-woke speech at a Turning Point USA gathering at the Tampa convention center that July, he made no comment about neo-Nazis who waved swastikas and distributed antisemitic leaflets right outside.
“DeSantis Country,” read a flag one of them waved.
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DeSantis again remained silent when the white supremacist organization Goyim Defense League sought to spread antisemitic hate through Volusia County, with Nazi banners and leaflets and venomous epithets. It was Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood who responded as DeSantis should have.
“As @VolusiaSheriff, I will use every legal measure in my power to crush these antisemitic, racist cowards. I hope they keep their cameras rolling and get it all on video,” he tweeted. “We’re going to send a message that Volusia County doesn’t tolerate hate.”
In an online chat, a man whom Chitwood called a “keyboard commando” spoke about shooting him in the head. The sheriff addressed the threat at a press conference.
“These scumbags came to the wrong county,” he said. “I stand with my Jewish friends and I’m honored to be on your hit list. It’s an honor to be sought after by a bunch of punk thugs like you.”
Chitwood played a number of videos of the Goyim Defense League in action in Volusia and other counties in Florida. One showed them harassing people with a megaphone outside a South Orlando synagogue on Feb. 17.
“Look at that horse-faced Jew!”
The video was shot a dozen miles from Disney World, which had roused DeSantis to vengeful retaliation when its top executive dared to speak out against the governor’s “Don’t Say Gay” legislation. DeSantis has so far taken no action in response to a report issued by the Anti-Defamation League found that antisemitic incidents in Florida have spiked since DeSantis became governor and made that first trip to Israel. There were 64 incidents in 2019. And it was up to 214 last year.
As this year’s total keeps climbing, DeSantis has decided to return to Israel. The trip will be part of a quest for the presidency, which he has not yet formally announced, but which will require votes from the Jewish community. He will also need the votes of the far right, which encompasses antisemites of various manifestations.
Meanwhile, as reported by The Daily Beast, Chitwood’s investigators tracked down and arrested the New Jersey man who allegedly made the chatroom threat. Chitwood was waiting at the airport when the man was extradited and transported to jail in a part of Florida where at least one elected official has made it clear that neo-Nazis and other such scumbags are not welcome.
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The post DeSantis Plans Trip to Israel While Antisemitism Rages in Florida appeared first on The Daily Beast.