State Rep. Randy Fine, a Jewish Republican legislator in Florida, has switched his support from Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis to former President Donald Trump, contending that the governor has not demonstrated enough action to combat antisemitism.
Fine began his op-ed, shared on social media as well as in the Washington Times, by telling readers that he was jumped by a Nazi two weeks ago in the Sunshine State, explaining he was a “target” as “the only Republican Jew elected to the Florida Legislature.”
“And you will find few people in the Legislature who have championed Mr. DeSantis more,” he wrote.
Fine noted his endorsement for DeSantis prior to his being the GOP nominee for governor and his own position as the governor’s Jewish Outreach Chair. Fine also identified himself as the author of the bills on Jewish issues that DeSantis has spoken about in the past. However, he contends that DeSantis’s actions have not matched his words.
“I love his words. His actions have broken my heart,” he wrote, providing a few examples, including a lack of progress on the state’s Holocaust memorial, as well as DeSantis not being forceful enough in condemning acts of antisemitism.
Eighteen months ago, my Nazi “friends” showed up in Florida. They assaulted a Rabbi. They beat up a Jew who yelled back at one of their protests. They commandeered highway overpasses to illegally hang banners saying “Gas the Jews.” They have tormented Jews at their homes with filth. Until a few weeks ago, Governor DeSantis said almost nothing. And worse, he did almost nothing.
Today, in the aftermath of the worst attack on my people since the Holocaust, we have open anti-Semitic protests taking place all over the state, worst of all on our State University campuses. In 2019, I wrote a bill that would allow the Governor to end these – it was the centerpiece of his trade mission to Israel. The bill was simple – our universities already kick kids out who call Black students the “n-word” – as they should. It simply required them to do the same for Jewish kids being told they should be wiped off the earth. When I begged Governor DeSantis to use the bill to protect these children after the attack, he shrugged it off and passed the buck to our University Presidents. They continue to do nothing.
Fine also said the Florida governor failed to defend him when an “open anti-Semite” ran against him, but the Republican said he made excuses for DeSantis at the time. However, what occurred on October 7, when terrorists from the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas murdered 1,400 individuals in Israel, changed everything.
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“The Holocaust did not end in 1945; it just went into hibernation. Radical Islam is the spiritual successor to the Nazis. Words won’t save us,” Fine wrote, calling for action and pointing to former President Donald Trump, who moved the embassy, “green-lit” annexing the Golan, signed the Abraham Accords, and more.
“When he was President, Islamic countries weren’t attacking Jews over there; neo-Nazis were not attacking Jews over here because they feared him,” he said, explaining that the past two weeks made him realize “our choice as Jews is simple.”
“We can vote for the Governor who says all the right things, or we can vote for the President who actually does them. When it comes to action, Donald Trump has never let us down,” he wrote.
The DeSantis campaign did not take kindly to Fine’s op-ed; campaign press secretary Bryan Griffin deemed the piece “nothing more than shameful political theater at a time when Ron DeSantis is leading the charge to support Israel.”
“From working to move the US embassy to Jerusalem, to combatting antisemitism throughout Florida and its schools, to securing funding for security at Jewish schools and synagogues, there’s never been a more pro-Israel Governor,” Griffin said.
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The piece also prompted a response from Florida House Speaker Paul Renner, who defended DeSantis.
“There’s never been a more staunch, pro-Israel Governor than Ron DeSantis, and his record proves it,” he began:
The rhetoric suggesting otherwise is wrong, just ask any of the hundreds of Americans who made it home on flights organized by the Governor when President Biden failed to bring them home to safety. He also implemented many laws to ensure education on the Holocaust in Florida schools, combatted offensive anti-Semitic behavior throughout the state, and secured funding for security to protect Jewish schools and synagogues.
“There is no stronger candidate for President on these critical issues than Ron DeSantis,” Renner added.
The rhetoric suggesting otherwise is wrong, just ask any of the hundreds of Americans who made it home on flights organized by the Governor when President Biden failed to bring them home to safety.
— Paul Renner (@Paul_Renner) October 25, 2023
There is no stronger candidate for President on these critical issues than Ron DeSantis.
— Paul Renner (@Paul_Renner) October 25, 2023
Following the terrorist attack in Israel, DeSantis called it Israel’s “darkest hour” and promised that as president, he would cancel the visas of foreign students who celebrate terrorism in the United States.