Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) National President Morton A. Klein released the following statement:
Over the course of many years, we have repeatedly witnessed former Congressman and present Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’ great love, friendship and aid to Israel and the Jewish people. DeSantis would often say to me, “What can we do to help U.S.-Israel relations?” Governor DeSantis played a vital role in prompting the move of the U.S. embassy to Israel’s eternal capital Jerusalem, and obtaining U.S. recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights. He is a leader in combating antisemitic boycotts; enhancing Jewish education; and promoting Israel-Florida trade relations and joint projects. It is thus deeply troubling and destructive that New York’s Museum of Jewish Heritage demanded cancelation of Governor DeSantis’ speech at the upcoming Tikvah Jewish Leadership Conference initially scheduled to take place at the museum, causing the conference to move to another location. (See: “Ron DeSantis Is Persona Non Grata at a Holocaust Memorial,” by Elliott Abrams and Eric Cohen, Wall St. J’nl, May 5, 2022.)
The New York Museum of Jewish Heritage’s stated mission is to combat intolerance and exclusion, in the wake of the Holocaust. To be true to its mission, the museum must immediately apologize/retract cancellation of Governor DeSantis. A governor who has done so much for Israel and the Jewish people should be welcomed with open arms at Jewish institutions.
It is particularly disturbing that a museum that commemorates the Holocaust excluded a leading fighter against antisemitic anti-Israel boycotts. Has the New York Museum of Jewish Heritage forgotten that the first official act of the Nazi regime was an anti-Jewish boycott?
Governor DeSantis’ achievements for our people include:
- While serving as the Chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives Government Oversight & Reform Committee, Subcommittee on National Security, then-Congressman DeSantis convened and chaired the vital Congressional hearings promoting moving the U.S. Embassy to Israel’s capital Jerusalem (Nov. 8, 2017 – transcript) and recognizing Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights (July 17, 2018). ZOA National President Morton Klein testified at both hearings along with Amb. John Bolton, Amb. Dore Gold, and others (See here and here.) Then-Congressman DeSantis’ hearings promptly led to President Trump’s announcements of the U.S. embassy move and Golan recognition.
- As one of his first official acts, Governor DeSantis led the biggest ever trade delegation from Florida to Israel, which included the full Florida Cabinet (which officially met and had a formal meeting in the new U.S. embassy in Jerusalem), bipartisan state legislators, university leaders, business and state agencies, and community leaders. (I, Morton Klein, am proud to have been part of that delegation.) The delegation signed 20 memorandums of understanding between Florida and Israeli universities, research centers, and government agencies. Governor DeSantis also met with top Israeli officials to discuss strengthening Florida-Israel relations in space technologies, cybersecurity, emergency management, and increasing trade and investments. The Miami Herald article on the trip also explained that “It was the first time a governor from any U.S. state, visited Judea and Samaria and both the University of Ariel and the region of Gush Etzion, sending a clear message against the Boycott Divest Sanctions (BDS) movement, which is the new face of antisemitism.”
- When Airbnb engaged in a discriminatory boycott against Jews in Judea and Samaria, Governor DeSantis stood firmly with Israel against the Airbnb boycott. Gov. DeSantis placed Airbnb on a list of “scrutinized companies” with which Florida will not do business; made it clear that he and Florida “oppose policies that unfairly target the world’s only Jewish State and our greatest ally in the Middle East,” and warned Airbnb that he would consider additional action if Airbnb did not end its discriminatory policies. Following pressure from Governor DeSantis and Florida, and the DeSantis-led trade mission to Israel, Airbnb reversed its discriminatory policy. Governor DeSantis acknowledged that Airbnb did the right thing by ending its discriminatory boycott that unfairly targeted Israel, and removed Airbnb from the scrutinized companies list.
- Governor DeSantis likewise stood strongly with the Jewish people against Ben & Jerry’s antisemitic boycott – and against any corporation that participates in such boycotts. Gov. DeSantis declared: “As a matter of law and principle, the State of Florida will not tolerate discrimination against the State of Israel or the Israeli people. By placing Ben & Jerry’s Fortune 500 parent company Unilever on our List of Scrutinized Companies that Boycott Israel, Florida is sending a message to corporate America that we will defend our strong relationship with the Jewish State. I will not stand idly by as woke corporate ideologues seek to boycott and divest from our ally, Israel.”
- He also is one of the first governors to promote and establish Holocaust education in public schools.
Especially in a time when Israel has a diminishing number of friends and an increasing number of antagonists both here and abroad, we should fervently embrace and appreciate great friends of Israel and the Jewish people like the extraordinary Governor Ron DeSantis. An immediate apology by the NY Museum of Jewish Heritage is in order.
And the wise policies of Gov. DeSantis that the Museum inappropriately objects to are supported by the majority of Floridians. He is also one of the most popular governors in the country, governing the third largest state in America, with one of the largest and growing Jewish populations.