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It’s time. They’ve had their say, intimidating Jewish students through their words and actions. They have dragged our rights to Free Speech to a new low. And Gov. Ron DeSantis has said, “enough.” Here’s what’s been enacted:
The head of Florida’s university system has directed schools to disband campus chapters of a pro-Palestinian student group he alleges are aligned in support of terrorists. In a letter Tuesday to the state’s 12 university presidents, State University System Chancellor Ray Rodrigues said two Florida chapters of Students for Justice in Palestine ‘must be deactivated.’ A spokesperson for Gov. Ron DeSantis said the governor directed that the University of Florida and the University of South Florida remove the groups immediately.
Rodrigues’ letter said that a ‘toolkit’ released by the group described the Oct. 7 Hamas attack on Israel as ‘the resistance’ and ‘unequivocally states: ‘Palestinian students in exile are PART of this movement, not in solidarity with this movement.’’
Rodrigues and DeSantis have both said that these protestors are providing “material support” in the way they’ve characterized their relationship with Hamas:
The term ‘material support or resources’ means any property, tangible or intangible, or service, including currency or monetary instruments or financial securities, financial services, lodging, training, expert advice or assistance, safehouses, false documentation or identification, communications equipment, facilities, weapons, lethal substances, explosives, personnel (1 or more individuals who may be or include oneself), and transportation, except medicine or religious materials. . .
Whether this definition applies to their activities is a fair question.
An effort was made to define anti-Semitic actions and statements:
Rodrigues and state education Commissioner Manny Diaz attempted to define actions that constituted antisemitism under Florida law. Their letter said those actions include ‘calling for, aiding, or justifying the killing or harming of Jews, often in the name of a radical ideology or an extremist view of religion.’ Another example: ‘Applying a double standard to Israel by requiring behavior of Israel that is not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation, or focusing peace or human rights investigations only in Israel.’
Others protested the governor’s actions:
Val Beron, an activist with Tampa Bay Community Action Committee, had a different view as he participated in an Emergency Rally for Gaza on Wednesday afternoon on Fowler Avenue near the main entrance to USF, just off campus.
The group, which helped organize the rally, ‘has been on campus for years and has never threatened the safety of Jewish students,’ Beron said. ‘I don’t see why people would feel threatened now.’
It’s also worth pointing out that there’s never been a war like the one going on in Israel now, and at some protests in the U.S., pro-Hamas groups are criticizing Jews, not just Israelis.
Another statement that amused me is this one:
Joseph Nohava — an organizer with Tampa Bay Community Action Committee — said the earlier letter by Rodrigues lacked nuance. He noted that protesters who are Jewish have spoken against the Israeli government.
‘The whole thing is absurd,’ Nohava said. “It doesn’t sound like something that would hold up in court. … Israel doesn’t represent Judaism. You don’t conflate a whole religion with a state committing war crimes.’
I have no idea what he means by stating that Rodrigues’ letter lacked nuance. And just because some ignorant Jews have criticized the Israeli government does not explain their support of Hamas. To say that Israel does not represent Judaism is naïve and foolish.
Still, although I support free speech, I am against these protests on campus. In other states, Jewish students have been harassed and threatened. The protestors should be free to protest, but not on campus.
Do you think DeSantis is violating the First Amendment and free speech?
If he’s not, shouldn’t other governors be taking the same action?Published in