Florida population

Ron DeSantis calls out ‘woke gender ideology’ in speech to Jewish group in Manhattan

(New York Jewish Week) — Florida Governor Ron DeSantis spoke about the success of the Jewish community in the Sunshine State and the need to fight “revival” in an address to a conservative Jewish group in New York on Sunday.

“They can’t cancel me,” began his Republican governor’s speech, delivered to an audience of around 700 at the Tikvah Fund’s Jewish Leadership Conference, held at Chelsea Piers. “I will say what I think. When the left has a spasm, it just tells you that in Florida, we are winning.

DeSantis, the final speaker of the one-day conference, was referring to the controversy last month, when the Tikvah Fund said the Museum of Jewish Heritage in Lower Manhattan had canceled its contract to hold the conference there. Tikvah said the museum told them that a speech by DeSantis, who had recently signed a law which banned classroom discussion of gender identity and sexual orientation for certain age groups in Florida schools, was not “consistent with the values ​​of the museum”; the museum challenged Tikvah’s version of events but not the nullification.

DeSantis referenced the gender identity bill in his remarks on Sunday. “Every parent in the state of Florida has the right to send their child to elementary school without having concepts like woke gender ideology stuck in their curriculum,” DeSantis said.

He also said that children should be able to go to school without teachers “transferring their children’s gender to a different gender, naming them differently, making them wear different clothes without their knowledge and consent. parents”.

In an editorial about the canceled eventTikvah said he invited DeSantis because of policies in Florida that had encouraged the growth of the state’s Jewish community, including low taxes and public funding for parochial education.

Elder Elliot Abrams deputy national security adviser and president of the Tikvah Fund, told New York Jewish Week that Florida’s Jewish community “is a great story.”

“Not only is Florida’s population growing, but the Jewish community is thriving,” Abrams said. “[Desantis] has much to be proud of when it comes to this.

Outside the venue, several dozen demonstrators from progressive groups, including members of Jews for Economic and Racial Justice, protested his appearance. Chelsea Piers also faced backlash from politicians and activists who denounced the venue for allowing DeSantis to speak there.

Rich Ferraro, spokesperson for LGBTQ advocacy group GLAAD, told The New York Times that the organization “to abstain from future events” on the spot. The Ali Forney Center, which works with homeless LGBTQ youth in New York, also canceled an on-site program next month.

In a statement on Friday, the site said it “couldn’t disagree more strongly with many of Ron DeSantis’ actions in office.”

“Pier Sixty will direct every dollar it receives from Tikvah to groups that protect LGBTQ+ communities and encourage and amplify productive debates on LGBTQ+ issues,” the statement read.

Protesters noted that DeSantis spoke in New York during Pride month and on the six-year anniversary of the shooting at Pulse, a gay club in Orlando, in which 49 people were murdered.

Joseph Kleinplatz, a protester who called the Florida governor “DeSatan,” told New York Jewish Week it was “wrong” to have him in the city. “The Jewish religion is not about hate,” he said.

Ana Maria Archila, a progressive candidate for lieutenant governor who also attended the protest, told New York Jewish Week that DeSantis “embodies building a political career on homophobic discourse.”

“Not just rhetoric, but policies that actually harm young people in particular,” Archilla said. “We are here to speak out against the desire to legitimize policy-making and discuss how this harms transgender communities and LGBTQ people.”

In a speech interrupted by frequent applause, DeSantis addressed the protesters and the museum flap, saying he’d heard there was “a little bit of opposition to me coming here.”

“I’m not going to let certain protests deter me from coming to speak in front of a lot of future voters in Florida,” he said.

DeSantis bragged about the education bill he signed into law in March, which his administration calls the “Parental Rights in Education” bill and which critics call the “Don’t Say Gay” bill. “. His administration has also sought to ban transition-related care for transgender minors and Medicaid coverage for medical procedures related to gender reassignment.

In his speech, DeSantis called the revival a “cancer” that will eventually destroy the United States and vowed that Florida would never be “overrun” by an ideology that he described elsewhere like “teaching kids to hate our country” and making employees “endure” critical race theory training.

“You may have differences in political judgments, but if they have an ideology that expects me to believe a man can get pregnant, that doesn’t work for me,” he said.

DeSantis praised Florida’s Jewish community and singled out legislation he signed in 2019 to “ensure that institutions like our state universities treat anti-Semitism the same way they treat racism.”

He also spoke about the enactment of Holocaust education requirements, allowing the Orthodox-run ambulance corps Hatzalah will provide emergency services and leading a trade mission to Israel. “Apparently this is the type of record that prohibits you from speaking in a Holocaust museum,” DeSantis joked.

Hours earlier, Tikvah Fund CEO Eric Cohen addressed the museum’s controversy during the conference’s opening session, saying the museum “confuses the latest progressive pieties with true Jewish values.”

“We will not stand down because a few radical protesters aided by the media prefer disruption to conversation, accusations to ideas, threats to debates,” Cohen said.

The Tikvah conference included writer Bari Weiss, former Israeli ambassador to the United States Ron Dermer and former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo among its speakers. Panel discussions covered topics such as “How to Fight Revival” and “What Every Young Jew Needs to Know About Western Civilization.”

DeSantis is often mentioned as a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination in 2024. Daniel Wanders, a conference attendee who flew in from Chicago, told New York Jewish Week that DeSantis is a “very smart and charismatic guy.”

“I think he will be very tough to beat in 2024 and he clearly has those ambitions,” Wanders said. “He’s fighting an ideology that I think is of great concern to most people here in this room.”