On Tuesday, January 15, 2019, newly elected Florida Governor Ron DeSantis held a press conference about the relationship between the State of Florida and Israel.
As he spoke, he was flanked by politicians, key supporters and Rabbis including Rabbis Moshe Denberg, Shuey Biston, Dovid Vigler, Zalman Bukiet, Shmully Biston, Ruvi New and Shneior Oirechman.
The Governor spoke passionately about the Land of Israel in a manner that is rarely heard on political stages. He refused to refer to disputed territories in Israel as “occupied”, choosing rather to refer to them as “Judea and Samaria, the ancient biblical homeland of the Jewish People”.
He explained that use of the term “West Bank” to describe these territories is historically inaccurate as it implies that this land is Western Jordan, completely ignoring the fact that it has been the Biblical Homeland of the Jewish People for over 4000 years as clearly recorded in the Bible.
The Governor expressed a strong and unconditional support of Israel and pledged to fight any attempts to delegitimize Israel through economic sanctions, such as the Boycott, Divest and Sanction (BDS) movement.
He specifically named AirBnB as a company that refuses to list Jewish rentals in the areas of Judea and Samaria as a nod to the BDS movement. The Governor then stated that any company that boycotts Israel will be boycotted by the State of Florida, “in the State of Florida, BDS will be DOA.” Effective immediately, Florida employees will not be able to use AirBnB until the company reverses its anti-Israel policy.
In addition, Governor DeSantis also announced that his first state visit outside of Florida will be to express solidarity with Israel, in May 2019. He also announced a $2,000,000 security grant that will be issued by the State to bolster security at Jewish schools.
Introducing the Governor, was Chabad Shliach to Tallahassee, Rabbi Shneior Oirechman, who spoke about the date on the Jewish Calendar being the anniversary of the Previous Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn, who fled religious persecution in Russia to find a safe haven in the United States of America, a country that he called a “kingdom of kindness”.
He continued to explain that it is also the anniversary of the leadership of the current Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, whose leadership of world Jewry flourished under the benevolence of the laws of this great country.