(JTA) – Responding to a recent rise in neo-Nazi activity in his state, a Jewish lawmaker in Florida is trying to outlaw displays of “religious or ethnic animus” on private property in his state.
H.B. 269 takes aim at a variety of activities that neo-Nazi groups in the state have undertaken, from distributing flyers with hate speech to broadcasting intimidating messages in public places.
Those groups’ activity has been rising in Florida for several years, according to a 2022 report by the Anti-Defamation League titled “Hate in the Sunshine State.” The report was published before the founder of the Goyim Defense League, which distributes antisemitic literature in public places and to private homes, relocated to Florida.
“We have actual Nazis who have proudly taken up residence in Florida,” the bill’s co-author, Rep Randy Fine, recently told the Algemeiner. “The things that they are doing, all of which I find disgusting, are reprehensible, and we are going to make them felonies.”
Fine, Florida’s only Jewish Republican state legislator, did not respond to Jewish Telegraphic Agency requests for comment.
Over the last couple of years, antisemitic groups have rallied outside Walt Disney World and a Chabad house in Orlando; displayed messages of Jew-hatred on a Jacksonville stadium during a highly watched college football game; and visited Florida universities trying to provoke students with messaging including “Ye Is Right” (referring to the rapper, formerly known as Kanye West, who went on an antisemitic tirade last fall).
Many but not all of those activities have been fueled by members of the Goyim Defense League, whose founder specifically said he expected Florida to be more hospitable to him and his worldview when he moved his operations there from California’s Bay Area.
Now, the Goyim Defense League’s signature tactic would transform into a felony under H.B. 269, which has bipartisan support and this week advanced to the legislature’s Judiciary Committee, a crucial step in the passage of legislation.
The bill would prohibit Floridians “from distributing onto private residential property any material that evidences religious or ethnic animus for purpose of intimidating or threatening [the] owner or resident.” It would also prohibit harassing or intimidating people “wearing or displaying of any indicia relating to any religious or ethnic heritage,” such as kippahs and other items of religious Jewish attire.
Other sections of the bill describe activities that the state’s neo-Nazi groups have undertaken in recent months, including displaying messages of ethnic intimidation on sports stadiums and other buildings, and entering college campuses in order to intimidate. The bill would classify such activities as third-degree felonies, with violations carrying prison terms of up to five years.
Some of the bill’s targets appear to be mobilizing against it. A month-old online petition opposing H.B. 269 has attracted more than 2,500 signatures, and its comments are filled with antisemitic rhetoric. One commenter decries “the Jewish assault on freedom of speech”; another, identifying themselves as the American airplane pilot and Nazi sympathizer “Charles Lindbergh,” wrote, “No group, no matter how small their hats are, has the right to tell us what we can or can’t say,” an apparent reference to kippahs.
Fine himself has attracted attention in the past for comments that critics said have bordered on hate speech. In 2021, the Florida chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations called for an ethics investigation into Fine after he made comments on social media calling Hamas militants “animals” and celebrating Israel’s bombing of the Gaza Strip with the hashtag “#BombsAway.” He also drew criticism after responding with what some interpreted as a threat to President Joe Biden after Biden called for gun control following the 2022 school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, in which 19 children and two teachers were murdered.
Holding Nazi views is not illegal, Fine acknowledged in a press release last month, adding that his bill builds on existing criminal codes.
“It is illegal to trespass. It is illegal to litter. It is illegal to assault people,” he said. “And we need to say that, when your stupid Nazism moves from words to action, we’re going to hold you accountable.”
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Phyllis Pollock died at home Sunday September 3, 2023 in Winnipeg, after a courageous lifetime battle with cancer.
Phyllis was a mother of four: Gary (Laura), daughter Randi, Steven (deceased in 2010) (Karen), and Robert. Phyllis also had two grandchildren: Lauren and Quinn.
Born in Fort Frances, Ontario on February 7, 1939, Phyllis was an only child to Ruby and Alex Lerman. After graduating high school, Phyllis moved to Winnipeg where she married and later divorced Danny Pollock, the father of her children. She moved to Beverly Hills in 1971, where she raised her children.
Phyllis had a busy social life and lucrative real estate career that spanned over 50 years, including new home sales with CoastCo. Phyllis was the original sales agent for three buildings in Santa Monica, oceanfront: Sea Colony I, Sea Colony II, and Sea Colony. She was known as the Sea Colony Queen. She worked side by side with her daughter Randi for about 25 years – handling over 600 transactions, including sales and leases within the three phases of Sea Colony alone.
Phyllis had more energy than most people half her age. She loved entertaining, working in the real estate field, meeting new and interesting people everyday no matter where she went, and thrived on making new lifelong friends. Phyllis eventually moved to the Sea Colony in Santa Monica where she lived for many years before moving to Palm Desert, then Winnipeg.
After battling breast cancer four times in approximately 20 years, she developed metastatic Stage 4 lung cancer. Her long-time domestic partner of 27 years, Joseph Wilder, K.C., was the love of her life. They were never far apart. They traveled the world and went on many adventures during their relationship. During her treatment, Phyllis would say how much she missed work and seeing her clients. Joey demonstrated amazing strength, love, care, and compassion for Phyllis as her condition progressed. He was her rock and was by her side 24/7, making sure she had the best possible care. Joey’s son David was always there to support Phyllis and to make her smile. Joey’s other children, Sheri, Kenny, Joshua and wife Davina, were also a part of her life. His kids would Facetime Phyllis and include her during any of their important functions. Phyllis loved Joey’s children as if they were her own.
Thank you to all of her friends and family who were there to support her during these difficult times. Phyllis is now, finally, pain free and in a better place. She was loved dearly and will be greatly missed. Interment took place in Los Angeles.
Gwen Centre Creative Living Centre celebrates 35th anniversary
By BERNIE BELLAN Over 100 individuals gathered at the Gwen Secter Centre on Tuesday evening, July 18 – under the big top that serves as the venue for the summer series of outdoor concerts that is now in its third year at the centre.
The occasion was the celebration of the Gwen Secter Centre’s 35th anniversary. It was also an opportunity to honour the memory of Sophie Shinewald, who passed away at the age of 106 in 2019, but who, as recently as 2018, was still a regular attendee at the Gwen Secter Centre.
As Gwen Secter Executive Director Becky Chisick noted in her remarks to the audience, Sophie had been volunteering at the Gwen Secter Centre for years – answering the phone among other duties. Becky remarked that Sophie’s son, Ed Shinewald, had the phone number for the Gwen Secter Centre stored in his phone as “Mum’s work.”
Remarks were also delivered by Raquel Dancho, Member of Parliament for Kildonan-St. Paul, who was the only representative of any level of government in attendance. (How times have changed: I remember well the steadfast support the former Member of the Legislature for St. John’s, Gord Mackintosh, showed the Gwen Secter Centre when it was perilously close to being closed down. And, of course, for years, the area in which the Gwen Secter Centre is situated was represented by the late Saul Cherniack.)
Sophie Shinewald’s granddaughter, Alix (who flew in from Chicago), represented the Shinewald family at the event. (Her brother, Benjamin, who lives in Ottawa, wasn’t able to attend, but he sent a pre-recorded audio message that was played for the audience.)
Musical entertainment for the evening was provided by a group of talented singers, led by Julia Kroft. Following the concert, attendees headed inside to partake of a sumptuous assortment of pastries, all prepared by the Gwen Secter culinary staff. (And, despite my asking whether I could take a doggy bag home, I was turned down.)
Palestinian gunmen kill 4 Israelis in West Bank gas station
This is a developing story.
(JTA) — Palestinian gunmen killed four people and wounded four in a terror attack at a gas station near the West Bank settlement of Eli, the Israeli army reported.
An Israeli civilian returning fire at the scene of the attack on Tuesday killed one of the attackers, who emerged from a vehicle, and two others fled.
Kan, Israel’s public broadcaster, said one of those wounded was in serious condition. The gunmen, while in the vehicle, shot at a guard post at the entry to the settlement, and then continued to the gas station which is also the site of a snack bar. A nearby yeshiva went into lockdown.
Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant announced plans to convene a briefing with top security officials within hours of the attack. Kan reported that there were celebrations of the killing in major West Bank cities and in the Gaza Strip, initiated by terrorist groups Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Hamas said the shooting attack Tuesday was triggered by the Jenin raid.
The shooting comes as tensions intensify in the West Bank. A day earlier, Israeli troops raiding the city of Jenin to arrest accused terrorists killed five people.
The Biden administration spoke out over the weekend against Israel’s plans to build 4,000 new housing units for Jewish settlers in the West Bank. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also finalized plans to transfer West Bank building decisions to Bezalel Smotrich, the extremist who is the finance minister. Smotrich has said he wants to limit Palestinian building and expand settlement building.
Kan reported that the dead terrorist was a resident of a village, Urif, close to Huwara, the Palestinian town where terrorists killed two Israeli brothers driving through in February. Settlers retaliated by raiding the village and burning cars and buildings.
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