Gov. Ron DeSantis has decided to hold a Florida public meeting in Israel next month.
I guess when he said he was going to be the most pro-Israel governor in the United States, he wasn’t kidding.
It’s rare, even for the most pandering of Florida elected officials, to suggest moving state meetings to foreign countries.
DeSantis and the rest of the Florida Cabinet are going to Israel next month on a business development trip. And so the guv figured they could all just pop into the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem and conduct a public cabinet meeting -- even though it’s 6,588 miles and seven time zones away from Tallahassee.
Does it still qualify as government in the sunshine if Floridians are sleeping in the dark when the meeting is held?
I like to think of this as bringing the red tide to the Red Sea.
But I’m not so sure your average resident of Jerusalem is dialed into the portfolio performance of the Florida Retirement System Trust Fund, government land acquisitions in North Florida, or the formula rule for hurricane catastrophe set asides.
Although, none of that matters. It’s the symbolism that counts.
DeSantis called the trip “a really unprecedented effort to strengthen the ties between Florida and Israel.”
And who knows? Maybe this is just the start of something. Perhaps, next year the Florida House will hold its committee hearings in the Golan Heights and oral arguments before the Florida Supreme Court will be moved to Upper Galilee.
This embrace of Israel by DeSantis comes at an odd time, at least legislatively.
The Florida Legislature has decided to redefine the Florida Educational Equality Act this session. The act prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, gender, disability or marital status against students or employees of the state’s K-20 public education system.
The bill amends the areas of discrimination to include anti-Semitism. And then it goes on to define and identify examples of anti-Semitism.
“Accusing Jewish citizens of being more loyal to Israel, or to the alleged priorities of Jews worldwide, than to the interest of their own nations,” is one of the examples of anti-Semitic behavior, according to the Florida bill.
The gist of this is that it is anti-Semitic to assume that a Jewish-American is less than fully patriotic to the United States due to an assumed dual loyalty to Israel.
OK, so what about the flip side of that?
Is it also anti-Semitic to wonder aloud why non-Jewish Americans like DeSantis go out of their way to make public displays of their loyalty to Israel?
“You have a tiny little country in a troubled part of the world standing for freedom, for democratic principles, for entrepreneurship, for innovation,” DeSantis said this month at a South Florida synagogue. “And really, the foundation of our civilization here in the United States, and really the entire West, can be traced back to that plot of land.”
It’s obvious that DeSantis has decided to hitch his political wagon to declarations of loyalty to Israel -- to the extraordinary level of holding Florida public meetings there.
Shouldn’t that also be defined as a kind of anti-Semitism? When non-Jewish politicians pander at such an overt cartoonish level of buffoonery that it rises to the level of fake dual-loyalty?
Just wondering. As long as Florida lawmakers are looking into the subject, they might want to consider it.
In the meanwhile, if the Florida Cabinet is taking suggestions on future foreign meeting locations, I’ve got one that’s in the same time zone and just as relevant.
Port-au-Prince in August.