Palm Beach County representative sponsors bill to decrease anti-Semitism in schools

By Carrie Bradon | Feb 7, 2019


Mike Caruso (R)   Courtesy of Caruso

TALLAHASSEE -- A bill to ban anti-Semitic criticism of the Israeli state was recently introduced by a Palm Beach County representative. 

H.B. 371 was sponsored by Republican Rep. Mike Caruso and seeks to eliminate cases of anti-Semitism from public institutions, ranging from kindergarten to the university level. 

According to MiamiNewTimes.com, the American Civil Liberties Union criticized a similar bill when it was passed in South Carolina, arguing that the limitations of speech against Israel was a violation of First Amendment rights. However, Caruso and the co-sponsors are convinced that the types of behavior banned by H.B. 371 are actions that should not be allowed to perpetuate in society.

“Anti-Semitic incidents are on the rise on college campuses and universities, including several occurrences just in the time since the October Pittsburgh synagogue massacre,” Caruso told Florida Record.

Caruso said that this bill is nothing more than granting protection to those who have different religious views than their peers, a right promised to all Americans. 

“This bill is simply adding religion into prohibited discrimination in the Florida public school system, including our colleges and universities,” he said.

Palm Beach County's large Jewish population is one of the main motivators behind the bill, he said. 

“I represent a community with a very large Jewish population including a major state university, and I want to make certain they have the tools they need to address hateful acts justly,” Caruso said. 

Caruso believes the bill will give educators the ability to see what actions are anti-Semitic as well as provide insight into how to handle such hate crimes. 

“While we can't prevent hateful acts from occurring completely, we can give our educators a tool when determining if the action was based on religion and anti-Semitism, which is why we've defined anti-Semitism in this bill,” Caruso said. 

The bill is co-sponsored by Rep. Michael Grieco, a Democrat, and Republican Reps. Rick Roth and Anthony Sabatini. 

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