Diego Diaz / Staff Writer
The Greater Miami Jewish Federation in partnership with the South Florida Jewish Federation hosted an online panel discussing the rise of anti-semitism in the US, and the need for continued support for the state of Israel.
Hillel at FIU, a university student Jewish organization, promoted the event throughout their social media, “A town hall meeting on antisemitism and Israel. We will be there, will you?”
The event took place on Wednesday, May 25 and was moderated by Greater Miami Jewish Federation CEO and President Jacob Solomon.
Panelists included both Florida Senators Rick Scott and Marco Rubio, as well as seven of the eight South Florida US Representatives.
Members of various local Jewish organizations were also present on the panel, including Yael Hershfield, the current Interim Regional Director for the Anti-Defamation League, a Jewish anti-hate organization.
“Thanks to our congressional delegation, and our senators, everyone of you have been great allies and friends, and we are so appreciative,” said Solomon introducing the panel.
Solomon asked the congressmen to refrain from criticizing their opposing political party, as this panel was meant to exemplify the nonpartisan nature of the topic.
Each panelist gave a brief remark towards the rising threat of anti-semiticism, as well as the need for unabashed support for the state of Israel.
“The spike of anti-semiticism coupled with the recent terrorist attacks committed by Hamas against Israel really underscore the need for the United States to make a firm bipartisan commitment to both the state of Israel and the Jewish people,” said US Representative Carlos Giménez who represents southwest Miami-Dade and Monroe County.
All panelists condemned the missile strikes carried out by the Islamic Militant organization Hamas during the recent conflict, uniformly blamed Hamas for the eruption of violence. None acknowledged the Al-Aqsa protest and police crackdown that predated the conflict.
“The pain and suffering that Israeli and Palestinian civlians endured during the passed ten days that was caused by, make no mistake, the bombardment of Hamas rockets into Israel,” said US Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz who represents Broward and Miami-Dade County.
“Hamas and Islamic Jihad are single handedly responsible for the escalation that has led to the bloodshed of Israelis and Palestinians,” said Schultz.
None of the panelists mentioned the 248 civilian deaths caused by the Israeli airstrikes, but instead, argued that the death toll was due to Hamas’ embeddedness within the civilian population of the Gaza Strip.
“When they [Hamas] attack the way they did, one of the things they are trying to provoke, which they know is coming is a military response and they embed their military operations within civilian populations, for the purpose of ensuring there is civilian death,” said US Senator Marco Rubio.
The 1,450 Israeli airstrikes were also justified as a deterrence towards future Hamas action.
“Israel’s founding Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion made a statement that remains remarkably prescient today,” said Matt Levin, president of the Jewish Federation of South Palm Beach County. “It doesn’t matter what the world says about Israel… the only thing that matters is that we can exist on the land of our forefathers, and unless we show the Arabs there is a higher price to pay for murdering Jews, we won’t survive.”
Panelist also spoke about the alarming increase in anti-semitic attacks within the US.
“The ADL (Anti-Defamation League) audit of anti-semitic incidents reported a spike of 40 percent in Florida during 2020,” said Hershfield.
Schultz spoke about anti-semitic incidents that have occurred in South Florida recently.
“In the past two weeks we have seen a significant rise in anti-semiticism, Jews have been attacked on public streets, been spat upon, assaulted, and Synagogues vandalized,” said Schultz.
The event ended with a speech by Interim Consul General of Israel in Miami Revital Malca, thanking the panelists for supporting Israel and “its right to defend itself.”
Malca also called for Florida to increase its education towards combating anti-semiticism.
“Now is the time to educate the younger generation… and incorporate more content into the Florida public schools, to teach our youth about the horrors of the Holocaust and the dangers of Hatred,” said Malta.