May 30, 2019
News Press Release

Gannett (USA Today) Must Correct Israelophobic CAIR Overstating Number of Muslims in Florida, Understating Number of Jews

Gannett Articles Wrongly Condemned Legal Status of Judea/Samaria, etc.

Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) President Morton A. Klein and ZOA Chairman Mark Levenson, Esq. released the following statement: 

Gannett (USA Today) reporter Jeffrey Shweers, has written several recent articles/updates about pro-Israel Governor Ron DeSantis’great business and academic mission to Israel. Some aspects of these Gannett articles are good – for instance, the articles mention the delegation’s meetings with Israeli experts on water and emergency management. But some of these articles contain erroneous information and misleading omissions, which should have been fact-checked beforehand and surely should be corrected now. 

For instance:

Schweers’ article entitled “Arab-Americans, Other Civil Rights Groups Miffed Over De-Santis Trip to Israel,” published in the [Gannett-owned] Tallahassee Democraton May 25, 2019, relies on erroneous population information from a representative of the anti-Israel Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR – identified by the U.S. government as an unindicted co-conspirator in the Holy Land Foundation case for funneling money to Hamas). The article states that the CAIR representative claims that “Florida is home to at least 500,000 Muslims, about the same number of Jews who live in South Florida” – and fails to correct these erroneous figures.

 The Association of Statisticians of American Religious Bodies (ASARB) and Association of Religions Data Archives (ARDA) found only about 160,000 adherents to Islam in Florida in 2010. Similarly, Pew Research Center’s 2014 Religious Landscape study and Pew’s recent breakdown of “Adults in Florida” state that Muslims comprise less than1% of Florida’s population. This means that Florida’s Muslim population is less than 200,000, perhaps significantly less. In addition to massively overstating Florida’s Muslim population, CAIR also understated Florida’s Jewish population. Approximately 700,000 Jews live in Florida, including 70,000 Jews who live in Florida for 3 to 7 months per year. (See 2018 data at Jewish Virtual Library and sources cited therein.)  

The same article emphasizes arguments criticizing holding a ceremonial Florida cabinet meeting at the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem – and fails to disclose that Gannett is prosecuting a lawsuit to try to stop the Jerusalem Embassy meeting and to penalize its participating Florida governmental officials. It is remarkable that Gannett is complaining about lack of “Sunshine” when Gannett and numerous other press members will attend the meeting in Jerusalem, and the meeting will be live-streamed in Florida. (The judge threw out the request).  

Another article by the same author, “Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis Forges Partnerships, Decries ‘Denialism’ of an Israeli State,” by Jeffrey Schweers, [Gannett-owned] Tallahassee Democrat, May 27, 2019, wrongly states that Ariel University, in Samaria, Israel, is “in a disputed area that is considered illegal under international law.”   

As ZOA has repeatedly explained, Judea and Samaria are legally designated areas for Jewish settlement and the Jewish homeland under binding international law and binding international treaties, including: the League of Nations Covenant Article 22; the Mandate for Palestine (1922), the San Remo Resolution (1920), the Feisal-Weitzman Treaty (1919) (an Arab-Jewish treaty, signed by the Emir of the Kingdom of Hejaz, now part of Saudi Arabia), the 1924 Anglo-American Convention [Treaty] (ratified by the U.S. Senate in 1925, making it a binding U.S. treaty obligation), and the United Nations Charter, Article 80. Nothing has changed the fact that Judea/Samaria are legally designated Jewish areas.     

It is also disappointing that the same article omitted the fact that Miriam Adelson is a highly respected physician, and failed to place the title “Dr.” in front of Dr. Adelson’s name. 

We hope that Gannett will rectify these errors.