Florida Dem Senate Leader Stands by Opposition to Anti-Semitism Bill

Florida State Capitol / Wikimedia Commons
Florida State Capitol / Wikimedia Commons

The Democratic senate minority leader in Florida's state legislature defended against claims she is anti-Semitic after she opposed a bill that would mandate schools to deal with allegations of anti-Semitism in the same way they address racism.

State senator Audrey Gibson argued she is being mischaracterized by the media and said she is "a champion for all people, all races and all religions," the Tampa Bay Times reports.

"I am not that person that the media is trying to make me out to be," Gibson said. "There’s a lot of misinformation and seemingly deliberate efforts to try and paint me into a corner and paint me as someone that I am not."

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The bill in question was brought up in a senate judiciary committee hearing on Monday. It defines anti-Semitic behavior as "accusing Jewish citizens of being more loyal to Israel, or the alleged priorities of Jews worldwide, than to the interest of their own nations."

Gibson was the only "no" vote on the bill and called it "an intentional piece of legislation to divide." She later said the bill is well intentioned but "fights the wrong battle."

Rep. Randy Fine, a Jewish Republican, compared Gibson to Reps. Ilhan Omar (D., Minn.) and Rashida Tlaib (D., Mich.).

"It is sad that in the world propagated by Washington Democrats like Congresswomen Ihlan Omar and Rashida Tlaib and Tallahassee Democrats like Audrey Gibson, fighting anti-Semitism is ‘divisive,’" Fine said.

Gibson said in a press conference the bill was "very confusing" in how it was presented but added she would vote for it in the future.

Fine described Gibson's press conference as "disingenuous" for trying to shift the blame to those who criticized her.

In February, Omar said she wanted "to talk about the political influence in this country that says it is okay for people to push for allegiance to a foreign country." House Democratic leaders scrambled to write and pass a resolution condemning various forms of hatred in the wake of her remarks.

Omar apologized in early February for anti-Semitic tweets, in which she alleged AIPAC pays off politicians to be pro-Israel.

In January, Tlaib accused pro-Israel senators of forgetting "what country they represent," prompting backlash for appearing to employ the anti-Semitic dual loyalty accusation.