Visiting Israel, DeSantis signs bill curbing hate speech after antisemitic incidents

TEL AVIV – Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis made headlines in the Middle East on Thursday following an appearance in Jerusalem.

He also signed new legislation cracking down on hate crimes in Florida in the wake of antisemitic flyers popping up on lawns in South Florida and elsewhere in the state.

DeSantis received a standing ovation, as the governor is and has been big with Israeli government and business leaders.

He was there for a friendly forum to test drive potential presidential foreign policy.

“We must support Israel’s right to defend itself, and that includes strong military and intelligence cooperation,” DeSantis said.

DeSantis delivered the keynote at Jerusalem’s Museum of Tolerance and seized the moment to sign a Florida bill criminalizing the kind of antisemitic acts that have been on the rise.

Florida State Rep. Randy Fine, a Republican from Brevard County, is the bill’s sponsor.

“You have no right to trespass and litter on someone’s property, no right to graffiti someone’s property,” he said. “You have no right to block access to religious institutions or deface it.”

Back at the podium, DeSantis revealed expanded business with El Al and a Fort Lauderdale company to bring flight simulators to the airline, as well as investments for hi-tech innovations in brain surgery.

The governor took questions from foreign press only and talked of moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem during the Trump Administration, opposition to the 2015 Iran Nuclear Deal and declined to weigh in on the judicial overhaul plan that is dividing Israelis in unprecedented ways.

“Political currents come and go, but when you start talking about a lasting alliance, that’s something that really matters for the security of both countries,” said DeSantis.

About the Author:

Glenna Milberg joined Local 10 News in September 1999 to report on South Florida's top stories and community issues. She also serves as co-host on Local 10's public affairs broadcast, "This Week in South Florida."