Op-Ed: Sen. Rick Scott
May 9, 2019
Last week, the New York Times was widely criticized after publishing a blatantly anti-Semitic cartoon. And while the image was certainly shocking, it isn’t surprising given where we are today. Something has changed; we are living in a scary time in which anti-Semitism is being tolerated. I cannot comprehend why anyone would be anti-Semitic.
The media love to decry the president for everything he says, but they seem to have fallen oddly silent when it comes to the new anti-Semitism on the left. What we saw at the New York Times merely reflects my fear that anti-Semitism is finding a home in America on the far left.
I’m proud to represent Florida, which is home to the third-largest population of Jewish Americans in the country. Unfortunately, we saw anti-Semitism and hate rear its ugly head in Florida last year. I was the first governor in Florida history to make major investments to secure our Jewish day schools after a series of bomb threats. And after the shooting at the synagogue in Pittsburgh, I ordered state troopers to increase patrols at religious institutions all across the state.
We shouldn’t have had to do this — but unfortunately, anti-Semitism continues to be a major issue across our country. Just a few weeks ago, we saw the horrible attack on the Chabad of Poway synagogue in California.
In a major departure from the norm, every major Democratic candidate for president refused to go to the annual AIPAC conference in Washington, D.C. This is unprecedented. It turns out that Democratic candidates for president were afraid to offend the sensibilities of the far-left anti-Semites among them.
Democrats in Congress supported the Iran deal, which posed a significant threat to Israel. Popular Democratic celebrities have joined the so-called BDS movement which aims to “Boycott, Divest, and Sanction” our closest ally and the only democracy in the Middle East, Israel. The state of Florida has aggressively opposed the BDS movement, and the first bill passed after I entered the U.S. Senate was a strong rebuke of the anti-Semitic movement. Twenty-three Democrats voted against the bill.
In an even more disturbing national display of cowardice, the Democrats in Congress failed to take any action against Representative Ilhan Omar (D., Minn.) after her anti-Semitic and hateful comments, allowing her to keep her plum appointment on the Foreign Affairs Committee.
And let’s be clear: The House Democrats’ eventual statement of “condemnation,” led by Nancy Pelosi, was not only insufficient, but it took Democrats ten days and countless meetings just to come up with it. They had to negotiate with people in their party who objected to a fast and clear condemnation of anti-Semitism in all its forms. How hard is this? Why would you negotiate on this? And who would you even negotiate with? Some things, such as condemning anti-Semitism, are nonnegotiable.
Two more of the most high-profile new Democratic members of Congress have made it a priority to criticize the vital American alliance with Israel. Much of the rhetoric in this anti-Israel movement reeks of anti-Semitism. Democrats should be quick to renounce it and reaffirm the bipartisan commitment to Israel and its people.
It’s no secret that over the years Jewish Americans have tended to lean more Democratic than Republican. But that is changing.
The inability of the national Democratic party to take a strong, declarative, and unequivocal stand against anti-Semitism will cost the party dearly, and not only with Jewish voters.
Make no mistake, the failures of the Democratic party to denounce hate and intolerance have exposed the truth about the party. Its politicians claim to be accepting and inclusive, but in reality they care more about political correctness than standing up for truth.
I condemn anti-Semitism of all kinds, by members of either political party, past, present, or future. It’s wrong; it’s evil.
Anti-Semitism has no place in civilized society, and that used to be something that we all agreed on. Public officials who engage in anti-Semitic behavior, whether in their comments about American Jews or their tropes or their cartoons, should resign or be fired by the voters.
The Democratic party has taken more than a few steps on the road to insanity lately, with the Green New Deal, Medicare for All, reparations, and lately the sudden ambivalence about anti-Semitism. The last rational person to leave the Democratic party should turn the lights out.
RICK SCOTT is the junior U.S. senator from Florida. He served as Florida’s governor from 2011 to 2019.