New Florida legislation could criminalize recent antisemitic propaganda

'What the bill tries to do is criminalize some of the worst abuses of these groups,' state attorney says
Posted at 7:19 PM, Jan 26, 2023
and last updated 2023-01-26 19:51:24-05

PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. — Incidents involving antisemitic messages and flyers continue to happen across Palm Beach County in recent weeks.

"I'm extremely upset and angered by this. I have faced antisemitism off and on throughout my life," an Atlantis resident told WPTV after, he said, a flyer with antisemitic messages was thrown onto his driveway. "It hit me hard, not only because I'm Jewish but also as a gay man."

In January alone, several acts of antisemitism have been reported in Boca Raton, West Palm Beach and Atlantis.

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State Attorney Dave Aronberg explains how the new bill would make these types of acts a hate crime.

A man believed to be part of the group responsible for at least some of the antisemitic propaganda was arrested last week. But days later, residents in Atlantis told WPTV even more fliers showed up at their doorsteps.

State Attorney Dave Aronberg said a newly introduced bill would allow law enforcement to arrest the individuals spreading the hateful messages, including the flyers, by making that type of littering a criminal penalty.

"What the bill tries to do is criminalize some of the worst abuses of these groups," Aronberg said. "It allows in some instances that littering would be a crime. Then if you litter with materials of hate, then it would be a hate crime."

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Rabbi Boruch Liberow with Chabad Student Center explains how he's helping students cope with antisemitic propaganda.

The legislation would enhance penalties for some laws already on the books and creates new ones, specifically those who stalk or harass someone for religious attire, damage places of worship, or block entrance to them, making the offense a third-degree felony.

Projection of hateful images onto private property, without written consent from the owner, would also face a third-degree felony.

"If we don't do something now, we might just have 1933 Nazi Germany here all over again," state Rep. Michael Caruso, R-West Palm Beach, said. "I will not stand here and do nothing. I will not be complacent and I will not sit around."

In the meantime, Rabbi Boruch Liberow with Chabad Student Center said he's teaching the students he works with how to cope.

"It's very frightening and confusing, but right after this, it actually gives us another boost of being proud of who we are, of being proud of what we stand for. And in fact, it's actually moments like this that make us even stronger and make us even prouder."