Tampa, Florida – Anti-Semitism remains a major concern as people remember the horrors of the Holocaust on International Holocaust Remembrance Day on Friday, prompting Florida state representatives to introduce legislation targeting hate crimes.
Seeing anti-Semitic incidents reported across Florida, State Representative Mike Caruso (Republican Palm Beach) introduced House Bill 269 before the Florida Legislature.
“Over the last five years, we have seen anti-Semitism on the rise,” said Caruso, who represents District 87. My house in West Palm Beach, swastikas and hate message projections, anti-Semitic hate messages in the AT&T building. ”
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Anti-Semitic pamphlets were also distributed in the Jewish quarter of Boca Raton and cars in West Palm Beach, he added.
Caruso’s proposed bill would target such conduct and make it a third-degree felony hate crime. The bill focuses on acts such as littering, harassment, stalking and vandalism.
“My bill does not take away First Amendment rights. It’s a hate crime only if you have another crime,” Caruso said.
The director of the Florida Holocaust Museum said it was a move to show Florida stands against hate.
“For people like me, I often say Holocaust Remembrance Day is every day. My grandparents were Holocaust survivors,” said Michael Eigel, director of the Florida Holocaust Museum in St. Petersburg. Told. “But I think it will take more time to really think about the lessons, the victims and the survivors.”
Decades separate that moment in history, but the hatred and anti-Semitism haven’t gone away.The FBI released its 2021 hate crime statistics in December, showing that 64% of victims are of any race or ethnicity. , or targeted because of their ancestry, and found that nearly 32% of religious-related incidents were anti-Semitic.
Egel, who spends his time educating students about the Holocaust, says, “My grandparents seem to say they used to teach my brothers and me that this was the worst kind of human being. But it’s human.” I have to teach them that it’s also the best for them.” “I’m alive because people did the right thing. They didn’t have to.”
Eigel believes the proposed legislation is an exciting moment to combat prejudice and will make his grandparents proud.
“I know they will look at this and say that one of the causes of the Holocaust is state-sponsored genocide. So this is the opposite. Igel said.