State News

Florida Legislature Approves Security Funding for Jewish Schools


TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - A new bill was passed in the Florida state legislature providing millions in security funding for Jewish day schools. The measure, signed into law by Governor Ron DeSantis, was proposed in light of increased tensions surrounding the Israel-Hamas war in the Middle East.

The bill, filed as HB 7-C or 'Security Grants', was submitted by state Representative Randy Fine on November 2nd. It was co-sponsored by 25 other legislators, and became law less than two weeks later. Fine, a Republican representing Brevard County, comes from Jewish heritage and has been outspoken with his support for Israel in the ongoing conflict.

Under the new spending bill, $25 million will be allocated for security measures at Jewish day schools and pre-schools. Additionally, $20 million will be given to the Florida Division of Emergency Management to establish a nonprofit security grant divying out money to organizations "at high risk of violent attacks or hate crimes". The bill passed both the state House of Representatives and the state Senate unanomously.

In late October, a wall at Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale was graffitied with a series of anti-Semitic messages, such as 'Gas All Jews', 'You're nothing but a statistic', and 'You're ugly if you are not light-skinned'. Volusia County has seen its own slate of anti-Semitic demonstrations in 2023, with Sheriff Mike Chitwood facing death threats for his public opposition to them.

Governor DeSantis' administration recently ordered state universities and colleges to shut down their campus' chapters of National Students for Justice in Palestine, a group supporting the Palestinian cause in the ongoing conflict. The governor has alleged that organizers are cooperating with Hamas, while critics have countered that he is interfering with constitutionally-protected free speech.

State Representative Fine, meanwhile, came to the conclusion that DeSantis isn't taking a hard enough stance for Israel. Last month the legislator rescinded his endorsement for DeSantis in the 2024 Republican presidential primary, giving it instead to former President Donald Trump. Multiple other legislators in Florida have followed suit, and DeSantis currently trails Trump in Florida primary preference polls.