Florida Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz held a meeting last week at Chabad SW Broward in Cooper City with faith leaders, federal, state and local law enforcement to discuss growing threats of hate and antisemitism.
The meeting, held at Chabad SW Broward in Cooper City, came as a response to neo-nazi and white supremacist groups attempting to organize a “National Day of Hate” on February 25, 2023.
Attending the roundtable discussion were community faith leaders, Shluchim, representatives from federal, state and local law enforcement and the Broward County State Attorney.
Wasserman Schultz assured all in attendance that there would be a zero tolerance policy for hate, and asked to discuss short and long-term suggestions on how to address the growing threats of hate and antisemitism.
Rabbi Pinny Andrusier, director of Chabad SW Broward and host of the meeting, spoke about the shocking and hateful demonstration that fellow Chabad Rabbi Yossi Konikov of Orlando encountered for a second time at his Chabad location.
Broward County State Attorney Harold F. Pryor followed with an overview of first amendment rights vs. hate speech and promised that any perpetrators who commit similar hateful acts in the future would be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.
Broward Sheriff Captain Christopher DeGiovanni and the city mayors of Hollywood and Cooper City, Josh Levy and Greg Ross respectively, each then offered their insights on short, medium and long term approaches to combating hate speech, antisemitism and threats to people of all faiths.
Representatives from both the Broward County Sheriff’s office and FBI representatives pledged their commitment to analyzing and prosecuting hate crimes whenever necessary.
Zalman Myer-Smith, Director of Chabad Security Center Florida, raised the concern of delays in processing the DHS/FEMA awards to non profit organizations to ensure sites are afforded the protection they were awarded. He cited that there were lengthy delays at the federal and state levels, which in turn delays sites being protected against the threat of terror attacks.
Additionally, it was raised that Florida House Bill 269, introduced last month by FL Republican State Representatives Mike Caruso and Randy Fine, would make it a hate crime to, without consent, leave antisemitic flyers outside a person’s home or project antisemitic messages onto buildings.
Wasserman Schultz and the State Attorney told reporters at a news briefing following the conference that all efforts would focus on a zero tolerance policy for hate crime and that there would be greater cross community collaboration in enforcing that policy and reporting hate crime.
When asked by NBC News about Florida Governor Ron Desantis’ decision to arrest anyone committing a hate act similar to the one seen in the Orlando video and declaring it a hate crime, Rabbi Pinny lauded the governor’s resolution and said hate is a non-partisan issue that attacks all in its path regardless of race or religion.
“Hate is evil and dark and we must respond with adding light and acts of love and kindness,” he said.
“It is by no coincidence that is taking place just prior to the joyous holiday of Purim; 2400 years ago in Persia, the Jews overcame the hatred of Haman and his plot to annihilate the People of Israel. Purim 2023 will hopefully see a new miracle, where goodness prevails and hate is abolished once and for all,” Rabbi Andrusier added.