Connect with us


Visiting Jerusalem, Ron DeSantis tries out his Jewish stump speech



JERUSALEM (JTA) — Ron DeSantis may not have declared that he’s running for president yet, but his incipient campaign was on full display Thursday at a conference in Jerusalem, where he ran down a laundry list of issues relevant to Israel and American Jews. 

Most of the Florida governor’s remarks reflected what has become Republican orthodoxy in the post-Donald Trump era: He supports Israeli West Bank settlements as well as keeping Jerusalem under full Israeli control. He wants the United States to be more aggressive toward Iran’s nuclear program. He vehemently opposes the movement to boycott Israel.

And he declined to take a position on the Israeli government’s effort to sap the Israeli Supreme Court of much of its power — which President Joe Biden has repeatedly criticized as a danger to Israeli democracy.

“We must also, in America, respect Israel’s right to make its own decisions about its own governance,” he said. “You’re a smart country. You figure it out. It shouldn’t be for us to butt into these important issues.”.

He also pushed back at claims that his legislation has led to the banning of Holocaust books in his state, calling them “fake narratives” (though multiple Holocaust books have been banned). And, at a press conference, he signed a bill that aims to penalize antisemitic harassment. He also touted a new bill that gives vouchers worth thousands of dollars to parents who send their children to private schools. 

“We’ve really seen a historic migration of American Jews and Israeli Americans moving to southern Florida,” he said. “It’s really, really boomed, and I think Florida’s policies have really reinforced that.”

DeSantis, who landed in Israel yesterday, was the keynote speaker at a conference on Thursday hosted by the Jerusalem Post at the Museum of Tolerance here. He received multiple standing ovations and cheers throughout the morning. At a press conference after his speech, some of his supporters sat among the journalists and clapped at his responses. 

Israel is the latest on a four-stop international trip by DeSantis, who is expected to announce later this year that he will challenge former President Donald Trump for the Republican presidential nomination. On the trip, he is meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Isaac Herzog and other officials. His trip also includes stops in Japan, South Korea and the United Kingdom. 

“If there’s any announcements, those will come at the appropriate time,” he said in response to a question about his potential candidacy. 

In his speech, DeSantis described his past support for Israel, advocating for the 2018 move of the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and, in 2019, holding a Florida cabinet meeting in Jerusalem. He also told the crowd that he baptized his children with water from the Sea of Galilee and said he put a note in the Western Wall asking God to protect Florida from hurricane season. 

An affinity for the Bible also played a role in DeSantis’ position on the West Bank, which he called “disputed” rather than “occupied.” He referred to the territory by the term “Judea and Samaria,” which is the Israeli government’s standard term for the area and also emphasizes its place in the Bible. He spoke of visits to the northern West Bank settlement of Ariel, as well as to the City of David, a Jewish neighborhood and archaeological site in eastern Jerusalem. 

“We visited the Biblical heartland of Judea and Samaria,” he said during his speech regarding a previous trip. Later, at the press conference, he said, “Those are the most historic Jewish lands there are, going back thousands and thousands of years.” 

He also came out staunchly in favor of continued Israeli control of eastern Jerusalem, claiming that it is the best way to ensure religious freedom in the city. Palestinians aspire for the city’s eastern area to be the capital of a future Palestinian state. 

“With Israeli sovereignty over the city of Jerusalem, people have the ability to practice their religion freely,” he said. “They have the ability to visit their sites freely. That would just actually not be true if that were in other hands.”

Although his Israel policies dovetail with those of Trump, and even though Trump’s Israel ambassador, David Friedman, was at the conference, DeSantis avoided saying the former president’s name in his speech, instead referring to “the previous administration.” He did say Trump’s name once during the press conference. 

Following his speech, DeSantis announced partnerships with Israeli firms to develop tech products, and portrayed his state as an inviting home for Jews. He said the state had invested millions of dollars into synagogue security as well as Holocaust education. And he signed a bill that bans projecting threatening images on buildings without permission, as well as littering with the intent to intimidate. 

Florida has seen an uptick recently in white supremacist activity. The Goyim Defense League, a far-right antisemitic group, relocated there last year. In October, several public spaces in Jacksonville displayed messages promoting the antisemitic ideas of rapper Kanye West. Neo-Nazis intimidated attendees at an Orlando-area Chabad center in February, and last week, police arrested a man for a March attack on a different Florida Chabad center. 

“This is going to be able to provide more tools to be able to combat antisemitic activity,” DeSantis said. ״If you have a synagogue and someone shines a swastika-like image on that, they have a right to do the image for themselves, but putting it on someone else’s property, they’re defining that in this bill as a trespass.”

The signing of that bill, and DeSantis’ contention that he supports Holocaust education, comes as legislation he signed has enabled parents in the state to pursue bans of Holocaust literature. A South Florida school district library removed a Holocaust-themed novel by Jodi Picoult in March, and this month, a high school in the state removed a graphic novel adaptation of Anne Frank’s diary from its shelves. 

Despite those instances and other bans parents are seeking, DeSantis claimed that there was no significant campaign to ban Holocaust books. He called that allegation the “book ban hoax.”

“Those are all fake narratives,” he said. “We’ve provided curriculum transparency for parents, to make sure that the curriculum used in school is transparent and to make sure everything is age appropriate and is not conflicting with Florida standards. And so, what parents have identified unfortunately are pornographic images in books.”

The legislation, which has targeted books about sexuality and gender, is at the center of DeSantis’ campaign to limit or ban discussion of those topics in schools. The law, called the “Parental Rights in Education” bill and dubbed by critics as the “Don’t say gay” bill, also bans discussion of LGBTQ topics between kindergarten and third grade, among other measures. It is one of a series of recent state laws limiting transgender rights. 

That law is also at the center of DeSantis’ feud with Disney, the state’s largest employer, which just sued the governor for allegedly punishing the company for its criticism of the law. At the press conference, DeSantis said the suit is about Disney wanting “to be able to control things without proper oversight.”

DeSantis did not refer specifically to the Anne Frank graphic novel in his remarks, and said Florida had “beefed up” Holocaust education in the state. But a Jewish ally of his who accompanied him on the trip, Republican state Rep. Randy Fine, defended banning the book, which he called the “Anne Frank pornography book.” 

“I read the diary of Anne Frank many times as a kid and I don’t remember any of that stuff that they put in that graphic novel,” Fine told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. “And frankly that graphic novel is antisemitic. To sexualize the diary of Anne Frank in that sort of inappropriate way, it is antisemitic.”

When told that the passages, which are authentic and relate to Frank’s attraction to another girl as well as a description of her own genitalia, have been included in the diary for decades, Fine said that the graphic novel was inappropriate regardless because it depicted the passages in an image. 

“It wasn’t just that the passages were in the book,” he said. “It was how they were visualized.”

The post Visiting Jerusalem, Ron DeSantis tries out his Jewish stump speech appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *





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.

Continue Reading

Local News

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.”

Raquel Dancho (left), Member of Parliament for Kildonan-St.Paul, and Nikki Spigelman, President, Gwen Secter Centre

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.)

Continue Reading


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.

The post Palestinian gunmen kill 4 Israelis in West Bank gas station appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

Continue Reading

Copyright © 2017 - 2023 Jewish Post & News