DeSantis pledges at least $2 million for Jewish school security, wants to sanction Airbnb

Governor makes announcement at Jewish Federation of South Palm Beach County

By Peter Burke - Managing Editor

Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks during a news conference at the Jewish Federation of South Palm Beach County, Jan. 15, 2019, in Boca Raton, Florida.

BOCA RATON, Fla. - Gov. Ron DeSantis is taking a stand with Israel.

DeSantis said Tuesday he wants to sanction Airbnb over the company's decision not to list properties in the West Bank. He also pledged to provide at least $2 million in funding for security at Jewish day schools.

The governor made the announcement at the Jewish Federation of South Palm Beach County in Boca Raton.

"We won't tolerate anti-Semitism here in Florida," DeSantis said.

DeSantis said he wants funding for security at Jewish day schools to be "an ordinary part of the budget."

"I don't want a Jewish parent to not want to send their kid to a Jewish school because they fear that that makes them more likely to be targeted for harm," he said.

DeSantis said he also wants to do away with anti-Semitism in policy.

"When you apply a separate standard against the Jewish state, when you target Jews for disfavored treatment, that is the essence of anti-Semitism," DeSantis said.

DeSantis said he had always held Airbnb in high regard, but added Florida has a "moral obligation" to oppose discrimination. To that end, DeSantis said, Florida would not be able to invest in Airbnb if his Cabinet deems the policy to be discriminatory.

He said it could damage Airbnb's efforts to become a publicly traded company.

"That would not be good if you're already on Florida's hit list," DeSantis said.

In the meantime, DeSantis said he would be suspending authorization for state employees to use Airbnb for reimbursable travel expenses.

"My hope is that Airbnb will rescind the policy," DeSantis said. "I don't think they quite understood what they were getting into on this."

A spokesman for Airbnb said the company has "unequivocally rejected" a boycott of Israel and is "deeply committed" to its more than 20,000 hosts in the country.

"We have worked with the Florida State Board of Administration on this matter, we remain committed to the more than 45,000 Airbnb hosts in Florida who share their homes with over 4.5 million visitors, and we'll continue to do all we can to support our community," Airbnb spokesman Ben Breit said in a statement.

Lastly, DeSantis said his first foreign trip will be to Israel, sometime after the legislative session in May. He said he wants to expand commercial ties between Florida and Israel.

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