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Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis Signs Bill Banning Anti-Semitism in Schools, Universities

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis officially signed [1] into law on Friday legislation prohibiting anti-Semitism in public schools and universities, two days after a ceremonial signing in Israel.

The bill unanimously passed the Florida House earlier this year and adopts the U.S. Department of State definition of anti-Semitism. It was first introduced after a deadly synagogue shooting in Poway, California sent shockwaves through U.S. Jewish communities.

Under the new guidelines, all public education institutions will be required to treat anti-Semitism the same way as all other forms of racial discrimination.

“I’m proud to sign this bill to make clear through a bipartisan effort that antisemitism has no place in our state and our educational institutions will not tolerate discrimination against the Jewish people,” DeSantis said at Friday’s ceremony.

The definition has been adopted by the 31 states of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA), of which the United States is a member. The definition notes that accusations of dual loyalty and the use of double standards against Israel, as well as anti-Zionism like the denial of Jewish rights to self-determination, are also considered manifestations of anti-Semitism.

DeSantis traveled to Israel in May for a weeklong trade mission that included meetings with nearly 100 business leaders, Israeli politicians, and university officials. “We are doing a lot of business deals, which is important, but we’re also looking at education ties. That can be the seeds of important ideas,” DeSantis said.

During his meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the two men hailed the “strong bond” between Israel and Florida.

DeSantis also visited the Western Wall and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

“The Wall is a lasting testament to the Jewish community and their history as a people and a sacred site of their faith,” the governor said before inserting a handwritten prayer into the cracks. “I am honored to be able to lead this delegation of Florida leaders as they experience the rich history Israel has to offer the world.”

DeSantis and the delegation returned to Florida on Friday.

[Photo: Gage Skidmore / Wikimedia Commons]