Florida Governor Ron DeSantis used his international trade mission to Israel, South Korea, Japan and Britain last week to bolster solidarity with U.S. allies while generating lucrative business opportunities for Floridians.
The governor’s visit to Israel coincided with the country’s commemoration of 75 years of independence. In a keynote address at the “Celebrate the Faces of Israel” conference in Yerushalayim celebrating the event, DeSantis spoke glowingly of Israel’s accomplishments, proclaiming his support and love for the Jewish state.
DeSantis delivered remarks on U.S-Israeli relations and engaged in a bill-signing ceremony to approve legislation criminalizing public hate acts against Jews, including placing anti-Semitic flyers at private homes or projecting these images on buildings.
He also expressed his grave concern for Israel’s security. He sharply criticized the current U.S. administration’s handling of Iran and its aim to return to the 2015 nuclear deal “that flooded Iran with money and rejuvenated their economy, and that led to the funding of terrorism all across the Middle East.”
Appeasement of Teheran only encouraged its march toward nuclear weapons, Florida’s governor said, denouncing the Iranian regime’s bloody record of terrorism and violent enmity toward the United States and Israel.
“If you look at the strategic challenges that we see in this region, Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons creates a risk unlike you have not seen in this region,” DeSantis noted. “Their ideology, an apocalyptic ideology, combined with the ability to use humanity’s worst weapons, represents an existential threat to the state of Israel, and it represents a threat to the United States of America.”
“There is perhaps no adversary more hostile to both Israel and the United States than the Islamic regime in Iran,” he said.
DeSantis also accused President Joe Biden of political missteps that undermined Israel’s opportunity for peace with Saudi Arabia, which would have broadened the Abraham Accords and kept Saudi Arabia out of China’s grip.
He noted that “moving the U.S embassy [to Jerusalem] helped get us the Abraham Accords. I think when America shows strength and resolve, people in this region really respect that.”
DeSantis called for the United States to recommit to the framework of the Abraham Accords and build a strong alliance between the US, Sunni- Arab states and Israel, against the threat posed by the Iranian regime.
The Fla. governor was one of the strongest supporters of moving the U.S. embassy and even came to Yerushalayim as a congressman to scout out locations in the Holy City. This was a few months after his inauguration for his first term as governor. He led a large delegation from the Sunshine State to Yerushalayim, stopping to pray at the Kosel. [See Sidebar]
“Since that time,” he told the gathering, “we have strengthened the relationship between Florida and Israel through increased investment by Israeli companies in our state, fighting the scourge of BDS, and being home to the fastest growing Jewish population in the United States.”
‘An Eternal Bond’
In his keynote remarks, DeSantis spoke of the inseparable bond between the Jewish people and the land of Israel. “Jerusalem, going back thousands of years, has been the eternal capital of the Jewish people,” he noted. “US policy should recognize the truth. Throughout two thousand years of exile in dispersion, the bond between the Jewish people in this holy land was never severed.”
“It’s important to honor the historical record,” the governor said, running through some highlights of that history beginning with the 1948 War of Independence and characterizing Israel’s “rebirth” as “a momentous development in world history.”
“How could a ragtag group of sabras, refugees and holocaust survivors possibly prevail against powerful Arab armies determined to snuff out the Jewish state in its infancy?” DeSantis marveled. “The odds were about as long as the odds that a young shepherd boy armed with rocks and a slingshot could slay a giant. But just as David defeated Goliath, the Israelis beat the odds and preserved their right to self-determination.”
DeSantis recalled the “war of attrition waged by Egypt and other Arab states against the Jewish state since its victory in the Six-Day War and the reunification of Jerusalem in 1967.”
He cited the Yom Kippur War; Israel’s elimination of Iraq’s nuclear reactor; intifadas and the rise of Palestinian Arab terrorism capped by “the targeting of Israel by international organizations and by movements such as Boycott, Divest and Sanction (BDS).
“And, of course, hanging over all this is the specter of a nuclear armed Iran, bent on the complete destruction of the Jewish state,” the governor emphasized. “And yet, through all these challenges, Israel stands tall as a beacon of freedom in a troubled region, an engine of economic growth and center of innovation and technology that is the envy of the world.”
Legislation Combatting Anti-Semitism
In 2019, Governor DeSantis made history when he held the first-ever overseas meeting of the Florida Cabinet in Israel and signed into law HB 741, legislation that made Florida a leader in combatting anti-Semitism in public education.
He also led the way against BDS when he placed economic sanctions on Airbnb when it attempted to boycott Jewish homeowners in Judea and Samaria. In the face of economic reprisals for its discriminatory schemes, Airbnb backed down.
At home, the governor earned respect from Republican supporters and conservatives for his strong stances against Covid-19 vaccine mandates and school closures at the height of the pandemic, as well as his defiance of CDC guidance to inject babies and toddlers with mRNA vaccines.
DeSantis was an early and consistent opponent of Covid masking mandates and widespread lockdowns, vowing to keep children in schools and businesses open. Although he was ridiculed and demonized at the time for his policies, multiple studies have since validated his position that these draconian measures were not only futile but harmful.
“[His policies] got him called a murderer by many national pundits and politicians. Yet his approach was vindicated,” asserted a NY Post op-ed. “Despite predictions of doom, the Sunshine State did much better than lockdown-heavy states like California and New York, not only in terms of disease, but also economically.
“Now Florida’s biggest economic ‘problem’ is the influx of people fleeing from states with much more intrusive Covid policies,” the article noted.
In addition to fighting Covid mandates, DeSantis has moved decisively on other fronts to oppose policies he considered harmful. Under his leadership, Florida was the first state to pass legislation, under a Parents Rights in Education bill that prohibits public schools from teaching children in K-3 inappropriate content.
The law also prohibits Florida schools from including Critical Race Theory (CRT) and “woke” ideology in their school curricula.
CRT is a radical leftist doctrine that preaches that racism is embedded in American society and that all social evils arise from “white power and white privilege,” which hopelessly taint the nation.
Once confined to universities, this destructive ideology is being promoted with the backing of the Biden administration throughout the nation’s public schools, particularly in Democratic, left-leaning states, in corporate institutions across the country, and all branches of the military.
Key components of CRT include socialist-Marxist ideas that capitalism is a pillar of inequality, and that all people fit into either the mold of “oppressed” or “oppressor.” White people are inherently evil, the theory goes, until they strip themselves of their power and privilege.
To be “woke” is to be aware of this alleged state of affairs and committed to changing it. A central feature of this macabre philosophy is its irrationality and utter intolerance for dissent. As a Washington Examiner op-ed wrote, “A core belief is if you don’t think racism is the culprit, then you are a racist.”
In December 2021, DeSantis announced the “Stop the Wrongs to Our Kids and Employees (W.O.K.E.) Act,” a legislative proposal that gave businesses, employees, children and families tools to fight back against woke indoctrination.
The Stop W.O.K.E. Act is the strongest legislation of its kind in the nation and tackled both corporate ‘wokeness’ and CRT.
“In Florida we are taking a stand against a form of racism that is known as CRT,” the governor said at the time. “We won’t allow Florida tax dollars to be spent teaching kids to hate our country or to hate each other. We also have a responsibility to ensure that parents have the means to vindicate their rights when it comes to enforcing state standards.
“Finally, we must protect Florida workers against the hostile work environment that is created when large corporations force their employees to endure CRT-inspired training and indoctrination.”
Chris Rufo, Director of the Initiative on CRT, The Manhattan Institute, drew attention to the creeping influence of CRT indoctrination in the nation’s elementary and high schools.
“It is one thing to have critical race theory in major universities; you can ignore it. It is one thing to have critical race theory in the federal bureaucracy,” said Rufo at the time the Stop W.O.K.E Act was passed. “But in the last year they have accelerated CRT in K-12 public schools and they have done something that no government should do, step between parent and child.”
Rufo went on to praise DeSantis for “not only protecting all the employees and students in the state of Florida. He is providing a model for every state in the nation.”
Feud With Disney World
After the new bill’s passage, Disney World, which has pushed past moral boundaries with highly inappropriate content for children, attacked the Parents Rights legislation and vowed to overturn the law in court.
Disney’s actions in campaigning for “woke” standards shocked millions of fans. Long associated with “wholesome” family-oriented entertainment, the company showed a new and crude face with its unprecedented foray into moral perversion in some of its newest releases.
DeSantis responded by urging the Florida legislature to strip Disney’s self-governing authority and create a new board, overseeing the district where Disney once held nearly autonomous power and operated as a local government.
Since 1967, Disney has held control over the property that is home to its amusement park, resorts and offices, and has had almost full autonomy over the 40 mile district. But DeSantis has made it his mission to ensure that Disney is not allowed special privileges that other companies do not enjoy.
The ‘corporate kingdom,’ as DeSantis calls Disney, counterattacked by filing a lawsuit in federal court last week, accusing the governor of a ‘targeted campaign of government retaliation.’
In a candid discussion of the case with the UK’s Allistaire Heath, editor of The Sunday Telegraph, during the last leg of his international trade trip, DeSantis explained the dynamics of the case.
“Disney in effect had their own government in central Florida. They had no accountability, no transparency, a sweetheart arrangement that no one else had,” DeSantis told The Sunday Telegraph.
“You have one company that acts like it doesn’t believe the rules apply to it just because it is big and powerful, and that’s not healthy. We think they should live under the same laws as everybody else; they should pay their fair share of taxes, and they should not be able to control the government.”
“I know they have filed a lawsuit; I don’t think it has merit but nevertheless we will see it through,” DeSantis said.
He pointed out the irony that “Disney is in Orlando, yet they filed the lawsuit in Tallahassee. That’s because there’s a judge in Tallahassee who typically rules against us. So it’s obvious they will try and get him to bite onto something. What happens is he rules against us and then we win on appeal. This has happened probably half a dozen times since I’ve become governor.”
Victims of ‘Wokeness’
A Washington Examiner op-ed, entitled “The False Religion of Wokeness,” says the movement’s proponents seek to tear down all of society’s institutions and replace the empowered “oppressors” with members of the oppressed. In this worldview, individual merit or qualifications do not count—these are merely the “tools of white supremacy.”
Defunding law enforcement and defaming police are key objectives of this movement. Their success in some of the nation’s largest cities have resulted in a shocking escalation of violence and murder. Without much fear of arrest and incarceration, emboldened criminals have robbed, assaulted and killed with little fear of consequences.
Woke activists also demand “equity” (equal distribution of wealth), ignoring ownership rights and a person’s investment of time, effort and resources to acquire his or her wealth. They also demand reparations for slavery and oppression in past centuries.
More alarming than the content of woke beliefs, is how quickly they have been adopted by millions of Americans, the Washington Examiner op-ed noted. “Many have done so insincerely, out of fear or a desire to get along.
“People are acting increasingly like subjects in a totalitarian country,” writes former NY Times editor Bari Weiss. “Yet, there is no gulag in America. There are no laws permitting honor killings. There is no formal social credit system of the kind that exists right now in China. By any measure, we enjoy extraordinary freedoms. And yet people aren’t acting that way. They are scared. And for good reason.”
Why Wokeness Spread Like Wildfire
What accounts for the way a bankrupt ideology such as “wokeness” has gained such a foothold in American society?
“There are lots of reasons why ‘wokeness’ or ‘wokeism’ spread like wildfire once America lost its collective mind during the pandemic, quarantine, self-induced recession and rioting of 2020,” writes political commentator Victor Hanson.
“Wokeism was never really about racism or other isms,” the author explained. “For some, it is a function of the psychological dynamics of projection: transferring one’s own prejudices onto others in order to alleviate or mask them.”
“Consider Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., an outspoken liberal icon,” Hanson wrote. “He’s one of the Senate’s most woke members. Yet Whitehouse turns out to be a member of an all-White beach club of elites in Newport, R.I.”
“Perhaps Whitehouse is committed (in the abstract) to rooting out ‘white privilege’ so he can concretely bask in it with fellow bluebloods?” the author wonders.
“The second catalyst of ‘wokeism’,” asserts Hanson, “is the distraction it provides from scary problems that threaten American civilization. The country is nearing $30 trillion in national debt. Eventually, the astounding red ink will require recessionary belt-tightening, more inflationary money printing, or both.”
“When our elites are clueless about national debt, inflation, illegal immigration, crime, soaring gas prices and a global pandemic, they reassure themselves that at least they can knock down another statue of Robert E. Lee,” the author quipped.
National examples of Critical Race Theory in Classrooms
(Taken from Florida’s Media Info Center Website)
–A Philadelphia elementary school forced fifth-graders to celebrate “Black communism” and staged a Black Power rally to symbolically “free Angela Davis” (a self-proclaimed Black Marxist-Communist leader) from prison.
–Seattle Public Schools told teachers that the education system is guilty of “spirit murder” against black children and that white teachers must “forfeit [their] privilege in acknowledgement of their thieved inheritance.”
–San Diego Public Schools accused white teachers of being “colonizers” on stolen Native American land and recommended that the teachers undergo “antiracist therapy.”
–An elementary school in Cupertino, California forced third-graders to acknowledge their racial identities, then rank themselves according to their “power and privilege.”
–Buffalo Public Schools have taught students that “all white people” perpetuate systemic racism. They showed kindergarteners a video of dead black children, warning them about “racist police” who might kill them at any time.
-The Arizona Department of Education created an “equity” toolkit claiming that babies show the first signs of racism at three months old and that white children become “strongly biased in favor of whiteness” by age five.
A Governor’s Prayer
Speaking at the Museum of Tolerance in Yerushalayim last week as part of his multi-day visit to the country, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis recalled his visit to the Kosel during a separate trip in 2019.
“We brought the delegation for prayer at the Western Wall,” he reminisced. “My prayer then was that we would be spared the upcoming hurricane season in the state of Florida. We were in a situation as we got into the height of hurricane season where a monstrous hurricane called Hurricane Dorian was barreling east and west towards the Florida peninsula. It was a category five, a very strong category, and it was basically going to ram right into our state.
“But unexpectedly it slowed down, turned 90 degrees and went north, and never impacted our coast. People can offer whatever rationale they want,” the governor smiled. “I’m chalking it up to a prayer I put in the Western Wall.”
DeSantis called for America to “stand strongly and forthrightly with Israel and with the Jewish people. We must support Israel’s right to defend itself, and that includes strong military and intelligence cooperation.”
“We must also ensure that, however the future political winds may blow, the United States must defend Israel against disfavored treatment by the United Nations and other international bodies,” the Florida governor added. “We must reject those who reject Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state. That is anti-Semitism.”
DeSantis took a swipe at the Biden administration which has tried to muscle the Israeli government into abandoning judicial reform and complying with other directives. “We in America must respect Israel’s right to make its own decisions about its own governance,” DeSantis said. “You’re a smart country, you figure it out. It shouldn’t be for us to get involved in” these important issues.
DeSantis concluded with warm hopes that “the children of the stock of Abraham who dwell on this land continue to merit and enjoy the goodwill of the other inhabitants, while everyone shall sit in safety under his own vine and fig tree, and there shall be none to make him afraid. G-d bless the United States and G-d bless the people of Israel.”