A Jewish senator in Florida is attempting to make it illegal to express “religious or ethnic animus” on private property after neo-Nazi activities in his state recently increased.
H.B. Neo-Nazi organizations in the state have engaged in several acts targeted by 269, including passing out fliers with hate speech and broadcasting threatening messages in public locations.
The Anti-Defamation League published a report in 2022 titled “Hate in the Sunshine State” before the founder of the Goyim Defense League, which distributes antisemitic literature in public places and to private homes, moved to Florida, and the report stated that those groups’ activity has been increasing in Florida for several years.
“We have true Nazis who have proudly taken up home in Florida,” the bill’s co-author, Rep Randy Fine, recently told the Algemeiner. “We are going to make the things they are doing, all of which I find repulsive and filthy, felonies.”
The single Jewish Republican state legislator in Florida, Fine, did not respond to inquiries for comment from the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.
Antisemitic groups have rallied outside Walt Disney World and a Chabad house in Orlando over the past couple of years; they have also put up Jew-hatred messages on a stadium wall in Jacksonville during a widely watched college football game; and they have gone to Florida universities to incite students with statements like “Ye Is Right” (referring to the rapper formerly known as Kanye West who launched into an antisemitic rant).
Members of the Goyim Defense League, whose founder specifically stated that he anticipated Florida to be more welcoming to him and his worldview when he transferred his operations there from California’s Bay Area, have been the driving force behind many but not all those events.
The Goyim Defense League’s trademark strategy would now become a crime under H.B. 269, a bill with bipartisan support, which went to the Judiciary Committee of the Knesset this week, an essential step in the legislation-passing process.
The bill would make it illegal for Floridians to “distribute onto private residential property any material that evidences religious or ethnic animus to intimidate or threaten [the] owner or resident,” as well as to harass or threaten individuals by having them wear or display indicia related to any religion or ethnicity.
Other parts of the law detail actions conducted by neo-Nazi organizations in the state in recent months, such as posting racist inscriptions on stadiums and other structures and entering colleges to intimidate students.
According to the proposed legislation, engaging in such behavior would be a third-degree felony punishable by up to five years in jail.
The bill’s targets appear to be organizing opposition to it. H.B. opposition has a month-old internet petition. More than 2,500 people have signed petition 269, whose comments are rife with antisemitic language.
A user who identified themselves as the American pilot and Nazi supporter “Charles Lindbergh” stated, “No organization, no matter how small their hats are, has the right to attack freedom of speech,” while another criticizes “the Jewish assault on it.”
For remarks that detractors claimed were close to hate speech, Fine has received notice in the past. Fine drew criticism after posting comments on social media calling Hamas militants “animals” and celebrating Israel’s bombing of the Gaza Strip with the hashtag “#BombsAway.”
He also drew criticism after responding in a way that some perceived threatening President Joe Biden after Biden called for gun control following the 2022 school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, where 19 people were killed. The Florida Council on American-Islamic Relations chapter called for an ethics investigation.
In a press statement last month, Fine admitted that having Nazi sentiments is not unlawful and said his measure builds on current criminal regulations.
Trespassing is against the law. Littering is forbidden. Assaulting someone is prohibited, he said. And we must clarify that you will be held accountable when your dumb Nazism turns into deeds.