While the nation debates anti-Antisemitism, a Florida House bill to condemning anti-Antisemitism faces opposition. House Bill 741 would officially denote the State of Florida's opposition to anti-Antisemitism and define anti-Antisemitism for Florida hate crimes legislation.
The bill defines anti-Semitism to include:
"...calling for, aiding, or justifying the killing or harming of Jews, often in the name of a radical ideology or an extremist interpretation of religion."
The Council on American-Islamic Relations Florida declared its opposition to the bill on March 5th. CAIR Florida claimed that the bill "clearly violates the right of freedom of speech" and would "criminalize legitimate criticism of Israel." They objected to portions of the bill which would limit "criticizing Israel for inter-religious tensions or political tensions" and "ordering an investigation of the State of Israel for human rights violations."
In a Facebook note, CAIR Florida official Wilfredo Amr Ruiz attacked the bill on the grounds that it failed to protect other religious minorities. He wrote, "But Wilfredo Amr Ruiz with CAIR says he's concerned the bills don't do enough to protect other religious minorities in the state. "What about the Muslims that suffer hate crimes continuously? What about the Sikhs as their temples have also suffered hate crimes here in Florida?"
The bill was introduced during controversy surrounding the actions of Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN). Omar was accused of making anti-Semitic statements connected with her support of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement. The BDS movement seeks to isolate Israel economically, often on anti-Semitic grounds.
In a tweet attacking House Minority leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), Omar contended that McCarthy's only reason to support Israel and the Jews was to seek campaign donations.
Omar referred to McCarthy, writing, "Its All About the Benjamins." Omar stated that the "Benjamins" represented the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). The remark was only one of many statements by Omar that implied conspiratorial Jewish influence on the American political process.
Omar initially faced a U.S. congressional resolution to condemn anti-Semitism from House Democrats. But after criticism from leftist and pro-Palestinian groups, the resolution was broadened to include other forms of bigotry, including Islamophobia. Omar supported the bill, while 23 Republicans opposed the bill to protest its failure to emphasize the unique challenge of anti-Semitism.
The bill comes at a time of increased effort by CAIR Florida to target its critics. For example, in January, CAIR Florida's Spanish-language chapter launched aFacebook campaign to remove Ms. Anabelle Lima-Taub, a Jewish Hallandale city commissioner, from her position after she signed a petition against Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI).
Tlaib is facing scrutiny after having her photo taken with Abbas Hamideh, a Palestinian BDS activist known for publicly supporting the terrorist group Hezb'allah. Hamideh placed a Twitter post on January 12, 2019, with a photograph of himself and Tlaib. He reposted this tweet on March 31, 2019. The text of the tweet was
"I was honored to be at Congresswoman @Rashida Tlaib at swearing in ceremony in #Detroit and private dinner afterword with the entire family, friends, and activists across the country. #Palestine#TweetyourThobe#RashidaTlaib,"
It's no surprise that CAIR Florida defends Tlaib and Omar and opposes the Florida legislation condemning anti-Semitism, when one considers CAIR Florida's record.
Federal judge Jorge Solis declared during the Holy Land Foundation financing trial that the U.S. government provided "ample evidence" of CAIR's ties to the terrorist group Hamas. Hamas is dedicated to "the killing or harming of Jews, often in the name of a radical ideology or an extremist interpretation of religion."
CAIR Florida Executive Director Hassan Shibly engages in what the bill defines as anti-Semitism. The bill defines anti-Semitism to include "demonizing Israel by using the symbols and images associated with classic anti-Semitism to characterize Israel, drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis, or blaming Israel for all inter-religious or political tensions."
On April 8, 2018, Shibly shared a Facebook post from Abdul Ibrahem that juxtaposed a photograph of a Jewish Holocaust victim alongside a photograph of an Israeli soldier fighting Palestinian Arabs. The text of Ibrahem's Facebook post was
"The image on the left is a Nazi sniper kills defenseless Jewish prisoners in cold blood from the film Schindler's List. The image on the right is that of an Israeli sniper killing Palestinian defenseless civilians in cold blood in Gaza a few days ago. Hollywood will not be making a film about the daily slaughter of the Palestinians at the hands of the Israelis."
The bill declares that examples of anti-Semitism include "making mendacious, dehumanizing, demonizing, or stereotypical allegations about Jews as such or the power of Jews as a collective, including allegations such the myth about a world Jewish conspiracy or of Jews controlling the media, economy, government, or other societal institutions."
Wilfredo Amr Ruiz, a Puerto Rican convert to Islam and CAIR leader, supports the type of anti-Semitic conspiracy theories that would be banned under Florida House Bill 741. In a 2015 Spanish language post on WebIslam, Ruiz adopted classic Christian anti-Semitic tropes such as false attacks on the Talmud. He falsely contended that the Talmud portrays Christians as "idolators, murderers, fornicators, filth, and beasts." He also quoted a 19th-century defrocked Russian Catholic priest Justinas Prainatis, who wrote an anti-Semitic book attacking the Talmud titled The Talmud Unmasked: Secret Rabbinical Teachings Concerning Christians. Ruiz also liked a Facebook post that praised Hitler and supported Holocaust denial.
CAIR Florida attempts to portray its opposition to Florida House Bill 741 in the context of freedom of speech to discuss foreign affairs and criticize Israeli policies. But Florida House bill 741 accurately describes CAIR's sordid anti-Semitic behavior.
Rebecca Witonsky is South Florida Associate of the Counter Islamist Grid. She resides in Boca Raton.