Updated June 13, 2019
What it does:
In April 2019, Florida lawmakers unanimously passed HB 741amending the state’s anti-discrimination law applying to state K-20 public education to incorporate discrimination on the basis of religion and adopting a highly contested redefinition of antisemitism.
Included in the law’s definition on antisemitism are the so-called 3 D’s related to Israel: “[d]emonizing Israel,” “[a]pplying a double standard to Israel,” including by “focusing peace or human rights investigations only on Israel,” or “[d]elegitimizing Israel by denying the Jewish people the right to self-determination and denying Israel the right to exist.” The “three D’s” are so broad and vague that they could encompass any and all criticism of Israel, circumscribing important political speech activities, potentially in violation of the First Amendment.
The governor signed the bill into law in May while on a trip to Israel.
Palestine Legal, Backgrounder on Efforts to Redefine Antisemitism as a Means of Censoring Criticism of Israel, May 2019.
Florida Redefines Antisemitism to Censor Criticism of Israel, May 30, 2019, Palestine Legal
Anti-Semitism bill goes where a law shouldn’t, May 7, 2019, Sun Sentinel
Group of Jewish Floridians hammer anti-Semitism bill, call for veto, April 30, 2019, Florida Politics
The right to criticize Israel is a free-speech issue, May 24, 2019, Tampa Bay Times
Read the law: HB 741
What it does:
In January 2019, Florida lawmakers introduced a bill to amend the state’s anti-discrimination law applying to state K-20 public education to incorporate discrimination on the basis of religion, including antisemitism. The bill redefines antisemitism to include, “[a]pplying double standards to the State of Israel by requiring of it behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation” and “[t]he work of a multilateral organization investigating Israel for peace or human rights violations.”
Bill Would Label Criticism of Israel in Florida Schools “Anti-Semitic,” Jan. 23, 2019, Miami New Times.
Read the bill:
In 2018, Florida lawmakers adopted a new anti-BDS law, HB 545. The law expanded Florida's 2016 anti-BDS law by prohibiting public entities from contracting with any company or non-profit that boycotts Israel. The original law excluded contracts worth less than $1 million; HB 545 deleted the $1 million threshold.
Read the bill: HB 545
In 2016, an anti-BDS bill was signed into law in Florida. SB 86/HB 527 does the following: 1) requires Florida to create an online blacklist of companies (including sole proprietorships) and for-profit organizations that boycott Israel; 2) prohibits public entities in Florida from entering into contracts worth $1m or more with blacklisted entities or others who boycott Israel, and 3) prohibits state pension funds from investing in companies engaged in politically motivated boycotts of Israel.
In 2016, non-binding resolution condemning the BDS movement also passed both chambers of the legislature.
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Share with Governor Scott:
Reject Florida bills that hinder efforts to protect Palestinians, Orlando Sentinel
Status: Governor Scott signed SB 86/HB 527 into law on March 17, 2016.
Prior to passing the law, both chambers of the Florida legislature adopted resolutions condemning boycotts for Palestinian rights as antisemitic.
The Florida Senate passed a resolution opposing academic boycotts in support of Palestinian rights.
Read the resolution: SR 894.
Bal Harbour Village, Florida, has passed two ordinances intended to suppress the movement for Palestinian rights.
In 2015 the village adopted an ordinance prohibiting contracts with companies that boycott Israel.
Read the code section: Sec. 2-402.
In 2017 the village directed its police to employ the widely contested State Department re-definition of antisemitism which classifies virtually all criticism of Israeli policy as antisemitic.
Read the code section: Sec. 2-112.
These bills are the result of a campaign to suppress Palestine human rights activism in the U.S. Israel's interest in restricting this activism should not override our constitutional right to advocate for change.
The good news is that your right to engage in boycotts related to Israeli human rights abuses and to advocate for BDS is protected by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. None of the bills and resolutions described here prohibit you from engaging in BDS activities.
Whatever your views on Israel and Palestine, these bills should be of concern because they threaten the rights of everyone in the U.S. to take collective action to address injustice. Moreover, we should all be alarmed that a foreign government, Israel, is lobbying U.S. politicians to restrict our rights.