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Unwavering Support for Israel Remains Unshakable

Florida lawmakers from each parties joined Wednesday on the Capitol to pledge their support for Israel amid widening clashes and a rising death toll within the Middle East.

House Speaker Paul Renner, R-Palm Coast, and Senate President Kathleen Passidomo, a Naples Republican, led the unified gathering which occurred as President Biden was in Tel Aviv expressing U.S. commitment to Israel’s fight against Hamas.

Hamas’ attack killed some 1,400 people and wounded 3,500 others in Israel. Since then, officials in Hamas-ruled Gaza said Israel’s bombardment of the Palestinian enclave has killed almost 3,500 people and wounded greater than 12,000 others.

Senate President Kathleen Passidomo, R-Naples, was among the Florida House and Senate members from both parties who joined to pledge support for Israel.

“Our support for Israel won’t ever waver,” Renner said. “For those who stand for freedom, in case you stand for peace, it is best to stand with Israel and Floria’s Jewish community today and in the longer term. We’re with them, until the tip.”

Renner said Republican leaders within the Legislature supported Gov. Ron DeSantis’ proposal last week to expand Florida sanctions against Iran, which has supported Hamas but denies direct knowledge of this month’s surprise assault.

DeSantis desires to expand sanctionsDeSantis condemns attack on Israel, wants latest Florida sanctions on Iran

Floridians evacuated from IsraelIsrael evacuation effort likely would have happened without Florida’s support

Renner later raised the likelihood that a special session could happen during this fall’s committee weeks to enact the expanded sanctions sought by the governor, who’s running a longshot bid for the Republican presidential nomination.

It is not immediately clear how DeSantis’ call for further blocking Iranian business activity in Florida would surpass federal sanction programs in place since 1979 that already restrict U.S. business activities with Iran.

Renner also hinted that more efforts will likely be coming from lawmakers to construct on the state’s past support for efforts to blunt anti-Semitism, enhance security at Jewish day schools and encourage trade between Florida and Israel.

“Florida is not any place for anti-Semitism, hatred or violence of any kind,” Passidomo said.

Senate Democratic Leader Lauren Book of Plantation, who said she is amongst only three Jewish members of the Florida Senate, praised the bipartisan coalition that had come together on the Capitol during a legislative committee week.

“We’ve got lived through great losses before, and though that is the best mass murder of Jewish people for the reason that Holocaust, make no mistake, we’ll survive this, too,” Book said.

Sen. Lauren Book talks to Rep. Randy Fine before a Senate president designation ceremony for Ben Albritton on Tuesday, Oct. 17, 2023.

Rep. Randy Positive, R-Palm Bay, also drew on his heritage as a descendant of Jews who fled oppression and violent attacks in Europe to make the purpose, “It seems the Holocaust never ended. It just went into hibernation.”

“Every Jew on this room has a story like mine,” Positive added.

He concluded, “The attack in Israel was not an attack on a rustic. It was an attack on a people. It was an attack on me, on Lauren, on every Jew on this room. However it was an attack on all of us. Once you stand with Israel, you stand with us.”

Related: Lawmaker, DeSantis’ call to expel pro-Hamas protesters pits safety and free speech


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