Florida Orders State Universities to Disband Pro-Palestinian Group for Supporting Terrorism
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Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis' administration is ordering state universities to ban a pro-Palestinian student organization from campuses, saying it illegally backs Hamas terrorists who murdered Israeli civilians earlier this month.
As CBN News has reported, antisemitic hate continues to be directed against Israel by students demonstrating in support of Palestinians on multiple college and university campuses across the U.S.
The members of one group, Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), were responsible for the latest incident Tuesday night in which antisemitic statements were projected on the wall of the Gelman Library at George Washington University in Washington, D.C.
Some organizations, including the Anti-Defamation League, have called out this organization and other student-led groups. But the state of Florida has gone further, saying the SJP is supporting a "terrorist organization."
Pointing to the barbaric attack by Hamas against Israelis on Oct. 7, Rodrigues wrote Hamas is responsible and claims it as "Operation Al-Aqsa Flood."
"In the wake of this terror, military leaders of Hamas have called for the mobilization of Palestinians in support of the Operation," he explained. "In response, the leading up to a 'Day of Resistance,' the National Students for Justice in Palestine released a toolkit which refers to Operation Al-Aqsa Flood as 'the resistance' and unequivocally states: 'Palestinian students in exile are PART of this movement, not in solidarity with this movement.'"
Israel's Special Envoy for Combating Antisemitism Michal Cotler-Wunsh posted the introduction to the "Day of Resistance" Toolkit to X.
"It is a felony under Florida law to 'knowingly provide material support ... to a designated foreign terrorist organization,'" Rodrigues wrote in the letter. "Here, National SJP has affirmatively identified it as a part of the Operation Al-Aqsa Flood - a terrorist led attack."
"Based on the National SJP's support of terrorism, in consultation with Governor DeSantis, the student chapters must be deactivated," he continued.
The entire letter was posted to the social media platform X by The Daily Signal Senior Reporter Mary Margaret Olohan.
NEW: Governor DeSantis just ordered the University of Florida and the University of South Florida to deactivate their "Students for Justice in Palestine" groups for violating Florida's laws against antisemitism. pic.twitter.com/Y3B6hLnRJZ— Mary Margaret Olohan (@MaryMargOlohan) October 24, 2023
The U.S. State Department designated Hamas a terrorist group in 1997. The European Union and other Western countries also consider it a terrorist organization.
The SJP has been on U.S. campuses for almost two decades with frequent protests calling for the liberation of Palestinians and boycotts against Israel. The group claims it has more than 200 chapters across North America.
Palestine Legal, a group that provides legal support for pro-Palestinian groups, said the ban on SJP is part of a broader effort by DeSantis to suppress freedom of speech on campuses.
"Florida, particularly under the leadership of Governor Ron DeSantis, has been actively undermining education, freedom of speech, and social justice movements, including by banning anti-racist courses and trying to criminalize protests. It is not surprising that this egregious move to silence the student movement for Palestinian rights is being pursued under DeSantis," it said Wednesday in a statement.
State Rep. Randy Fine, the only Jewish Republican in the Florida Legislature, who has advised DeSantis on Israel and Jewish policy, said he had called on the administration to take action against the student group but there was none until he released a strongly worded op-ed explaining his decision to switch his presidential GOP endorsement from DeSantis to former President Donald Trump.
"It shouldn't have taken me endorsing Trump to make it happen. I was begging them for two weeks and was just getting the Heisman at every turn," Fine said, referring to the college football trophy depicting a player holding his arm out to fend off opponents.
The governor's office said the ban was in the works for more than a week, however.
"The action, taken by the administration had nothing to do with Representative Fine. Any implication otherwise is nothing more than political grandstanding. Randy Fine is not the center of our universe," DeSantis spokesman Jeremy Redfern told the Associated Press.
Meanwhile, Ivy League universities were put on notice as billionaires, business leaders, and university alumni decided to withdraw their financial support from the University of Pennsylvania (UPenn) and Harvard University after administrators and students failed to condemn Hamas for its terror attack on Israel.
The Daily Caller News Foundation published excerpts from several letters to the schools from several high-profile donors. Following are two examples.
Jon Huntsman Jr., former U.S. ambassador to China and governor of Utah, said in a letter that the Huntsman Foundation no longer would donate to UPenn after its "silence in the face of reprehensible and historic Hamas evil against the people of Israel."
Over 30 years, the Huntsman Foundation had donated roughly $50 million to UPenn, where Huntsman is an alumnus, The Daily Caller reported.
After more than 30 student groups at Harvard refused to condemn Hamas, The Wexner Foundation, founded by billionaire Leslie Wexner to develop Jewish leaders, announced in a letter that it no longer would fund Harvard and would not be involved in any of its programs, according to the outlet.
"In the absence of this clear moral stand, we have determined that the Harvard Kennedy School and The Wexner Foundation are no longer compatible partners," the organization's letter reads. "Our core values and those of Harvard no longer align. HKS is no longer a place where Israeli leaders can go to develop the necessary skills to address the very real political and societal challenges they face."
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