During his visit to Israel on Thursday, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed an antisemitism bill and announced two new partnerships, in aviation and in health care.
The “public nuisances” bill, HB 269, makes it a felony to harass others “based on person’s wearing or displaying of any indicia relating to any religious or ethnic heritage.”
Kenneth Marcus, founder and chairman of the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law, told JNS it was “symbolically powerful” that DeSantis and bill authors signed the legislation in Jerusalem, “the eternal capital of the Jewish people.” But he cautioned that the bill is not about Israel, but about “a virus that is eating away at the heart of America.”
“The new Nazis at whom this bill is aimed must be crushed as thoroughly as the old and for the same reasons, because our values as Americans depend on it, as do our lives as Jews,” he told JNS.
The significance of the signing extends beyond Florida, added Marcus. “We hope more state legislatures will follow Florida’s lead and use this new law as a model for cracking down on the alarming resurgence in Jew-hatred,” he said.
‘New high-paying jobs for Floridians and Israelis’
DeSantis announced an aerospace agreement between El Al and the Fort Lauderdale-based Avenger Flight Group. Per the agreement, AFG will construct “a next-generation flight training center” with “state-of-the-art simulators” in Israel, according to a release from the governor’s office.
El Al and AFG will train 737 and 787 pilots in the center, and both will “jointly operate the flight training center with the benefit of generating tremendous efficiencies in pilot training for El Al,” per the release.
“This partnership will create new high-paying jobs for Floridians and Israelis, further solidify Florida’s partnership with Israel, and create future opportunities for collaboration in the aviation sector,” DeSantis said. “We look forward to the new opportunities this relationship will create and the future growth of both companies.”
Starting this fall, Florida will become the only U.S. state in which El Al services two major cities.
‘An international leader in health-care innovation’
A joint declaration between Florida, the Israel Innovation Authority and the Israel-America Chamber of Commerce will “promote greater cooperation, strategic partnerships and trade and investment between Israel and Florida, with a special emphasis on the health-care industry,” according to a release from the governor’s office.
“Envisioned” collaborations include forming “one or more health-tech hubs for Israeli health-tech companies,” collaborative research and development programs for high-tech Florida and Israeli companies, as well as joint research between Israeli and Florida academic institutions.
“Florida and Israel have a long-standing partnership, and this joint declaration will allow us to further benefit from increased collaboration,” said DeSantis. “Israel is an international leader in health-care innovation, and we are proud to strengthen our partnership that will benefit Floridians and Israelis for generations to come.”
DeSantis is widely seen as a top GOP contender for the White House in 2024. He has not officially announced that he is running.
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