On March 3, 2016, a bill was sent by the Florida Senate to the office of Florida Governor Rick Scott that, if signed into law, would prevent government agencies from giving public funds to companies based in Florida that are engaged in a boycott of Israel. The legitimacy of the bill can be shown merely by exposing the groups who are protesting its passage, groups that are linked to terrorist organizations and support for violence against Jews and others.
The bill, SB 86, takes action against the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, by requiring the State Board of Administration to 1. “identify all companies” actively boycotting Israel, through a Scrutinized Companies that Boycott Israel List, and 2. “prohibit a state agency or local governmental entity from contracting for goods and services that exceed a specified amount” from any company that has been placed on the list.
SB 86 was voted on and passed unanimously, 38 to 0.
Those protesting the bill, along with its Florida House companion HB 527, claim that it is a suppression of the First Amendment rights of those who choose to boycott the Jewish state. However, a look into the groups who are leading the protest reveals a completely different agenda, one that involves terrorism and bigotry.
A website titled STOP JOE’S BILL – Joe meaning Florida State Senate President Joe Negron, the main sponsor of the bill – was set up to protest the bill’s passage and to demean both Negron and his wife, Rebecca. One of the groups behind the production of the site is CAIR-Florida.
CAIR or the Council on American-Islamic Relations was created in June 1994 as part of a terrorist umbrella organization led by then-global head of Hamas, Mousa Abu Marzook. In 2007 and 2008, CAIR was named a co-conspirator by the US Justice Department for two federal trials dealing with the funding of millions of dollars to Hamas. After the September 11 attacks, CAIR had used its official website to raise funds for then-US financing arm of Hamas and the indicted organization for the 2007 and 2008 trials, the Holy Land Foundation (HLF).
CAIR-Florida reflects the same pro-Hamas extremism as its parent group. In August 2014, CAIR-Florida Executive Director Hassan Shibly wrote, “Israel and its supporters are enemies of God…” In July 2014, CAIR-Florida co-sponsored a pro-Hamas rally in Miami, where rally goers shouted, “We are Hamas” and “Let’s go Hamas.” Following the rally, the event organizer, Sofian Zakkout, wrote, “Thank God, every day we conquer the American Jews like our conquests over the Jews of Israel!”
Another group associated with the STOP JOE site and fighting the bill is the Florida State University (FSU) chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP).
SJP is the brainchild of University of California, Berkeley professor Hatem Bazian, who co-founded the group in 1993. In April 2004, Bazian called for an intifada (Palestinian-style uprising) inside the US, and in June 2004, he was involved with KindHearts, a charity that was shut down by the US government for raising millions of dollars for Hamas. Today, Bazian is the National Chairman of American Muslims for Palestine (AMP), the latest incarnation of the now defunct US propaganda arm of Hamas, the Islamic Association for Palestine (IAP).
There have been many recorded instances of SJP participation with the harassment and intimidation of Jews and others on American campuses and the call for Israel’s destruction issued by featured speakers at SJP events.
FSU’s SJP, itself, has used social media to celebrate terror. In December 2015, SJP at FSU commemorated the 48th anniversary of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), a group found on the US State Department list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations. In November 2015, SJP at FSU justified the targeting of Israeli Jews with stabbing attacks, a near daily occurrence since mid-September. The group wrote, “Brutal military occupation uses violence to quell peaceful resistance. And we wonder why resistance turns to armed struggle? To knives?”
The agenda of the organizations protesting the Florida Senate’s bill to stop public funds from getting into the hands of businesses engaged in boycotting Israel is more than clear. It has nothing to do with the First Amendment. These are not groups who care anything about anyone’s Constitutional rights, except those which they can exploit and manipulate to serve their sinister designs. These are organizations whose sole basis for existence is to see Israel destroyed.
Neither the Governor of Florida nor legislator should heed one word of protest from these organizations. This bill should be signed into law immediately.
The government representatives of Florida should only understand that groups like CAIR and SJP are dangers to society and national security, and as the BDS movement is shut down in Florida and elsewhere, so too should these groups be shut down.
Beila Rabinowitz, Director of Militant Islam Monitor, contributed to this report.