Aug 16, 2022
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Two anti-Semitic incidents rocked central Florida as a small group of Nazis exercised their first amendment rights. Democrats tried to use the incident to smear Republican Governor Desantis but their efforts came up short. 

On Saturday, more than a dozen people visibly self-identifying as Nazis held a demonstration at an intersection at Waterford Lakes near the University of Central Florida on Saturday. They held another demonstration on a highway overpass on Sunday.

 

 

 Authorities from the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles and the Florida Highway Patrol said in a statement that they had disbanded the group on the overpass, along with sheriff’s deputies due to safety concerns.

“It is against the law to obstruct highway traffic or hang signs on the overpasses and violators will be prosecuted,” according to the statement.

Complaints were filed with the police claiming the demonstrations constituted hate speech.

“The investigation is ongoing and if detectives determine a crime was committed, they can file the charges at large with the state attorney’s office,” an Orange County sheriff’s spokeswoman told News 6.

“I along with the Orange County Sheriff’s Office deplore any type of hate speech,” Mina tweeted. “This hatred has no place in our society.”

Hate speech is not, in fact, a crime and is protected by the first amendment.

News 6  also reported that antisemitic flyers were distributed to hundreds of homes in Florida cities with large Jewish populations one week before the demonstrations.

The issue became politicized when Christina Pushaw, a spokesman for Governor Ron Desantis, suggested on Twitter that the protesters may have been Democratic operatives posing as Nazis. 

“Do we even know they are Nazis,” Pushaw wrote, according to Floridapolitics.com, pointing out that last October, a group of Democratic activists posed as white supremacists demonstrating in support of the Virginia Republican gubernatorial candidate Glen Youngkin. This was later revealed to be a ruse carried out by the left-wingLincoln Project.  Pushaw later deleted the tweet. This did not prevent critics from targeting 

Opponents of the Republican Governor tried to associate Desantis with the Nazi demonstration with biased media reports claiming he did not condemn the white supremacists.

DeSantis responded to the criticisms lobbed against him at a news briefing.

“So what I’m going to say is these people, these Democrats who are trying to use this as some type of political issue to try to smear me as if I had something to do with (it), that we’re not playing their game,” DeSantis said.

Though he admittedly did not condemn the Nazis, he did refer to them in the most unflattering terms.

“Some jackasses doing this on the street, first of all, state law enforcement is going to hold them accountable because they were doing stuff on the overpass,” he said.

“I’m not going to have people try to smear me who belong to a political party that has elevated antisemites to the halls of Congress,” DeSantis said, singling out Rep. Ilhan Omar. “He added that Democrats “try to play games to politicize” antisemitism. “Why would they do that? Why would they want to elevate a half-dozen malcontents and try to make this an issue for political gain? Well, because they want to distract from the failure that we’ve seen with Biden. And they’re all joined at the hip, all these policies they all support in Florida 100%,” he said.

It should be remembered that in 2019,  Desantis led a delegation of more than 90 leading citizens on a trade mission to Israel. The group included powerhouse lobbyists and business, education and religious leaders.

“During this trip, we will affirm Florida as the most pro-Israel state in the nation and strengthen the bond between Florida and Israel for decades to come, ”he said in a prepared statement before leaving for Israel.

While in Israel, the governor signed a resolution honoring the “Israeli-Florida relationship.”  He also signed a bill prohibiting anti-Semitic remarks in Floridian public schools, forbidding comments that draw “comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis,” blame “Israel for all inter-religious or political tensions,” and require “behavior of Israel that is not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation.”

The governor, a Roman Catholic, concluded his trip with a visit to the Western Wall. While at the Jewish site that served as a retaining wall for the Jewish Temples that stood on the Temple Mount, Desantis offered up a silent prayer. Before leaving, he inserted a note between the rocks, as per popular custom, with the words, “Good Lord, spare us hurricanes this year.”

It should be noted that the following hurricane season, his prayers were answered.

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