Photo by Jason Leung on Unsplash

DeSantis Works Anti-Semitism Into Campaign For White House

The opposite of compassion is cold-heartedness, spelled DeSantis. The opposite of honest is opportunist, spelled DeSantis.
Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis is working hard to win the moniker of “most cold hearted” as he positions himself to run in the 2024 presidential campaign and tries to build a following as trump2.0.
Last week, DeSantis used public funds to ship dozens of Mexican immigrants who had entered the U.S. legally, to Martha’s Vineyard, Mass. He wants his base to know that he won’t stand for millions of immigrants coming to the U.S., because, as trump once said, they may very well include rapists, drug dealers and other criminals.
Moving right along in the cold-heartedness campaign, in an effort to woo anti-Semitic voters, DeSantis is running an ad campaign he’s calling “Freedom Reigns” and it features praise from a Baptist Pastor, Christian nationalist with a history of making anti-Semitic comments.
In the ad, Pastor Larry Jinks of First Baptist Church of St. James City praises DeSantis for having allowed churches to remain open during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. DeSantis has boasted that he was in the forefront of opposing the Biden administration from enforcing mandatory COVID-19 rules.
In the ad, Jinks, a longtime DeSantis supporter, applauds the governor for protecting the right of religious congregations “to worship together, in person,” during the pandemic.
The 60-second commercial started airing nationwide on Sept. 6. Jinks said he was approached by the DeSantis campaign to appear in the video and posted on Facebook that he “was honored to do so,” and later said that he was “happy as a Christian to do it.”
St. James City is just the kind of town whose voters DeSantis wants to attract. It is a small, impoverished town with a population of 3,876 people, located on Pine Island near Cape Coral-Fort Myers. It is 98.95 percent white, with just .10 percent African American and the media income for a family was $42,176, a media income of $24,120 for men and $22, 179 for women.
Jinks lived his early life in Alexandria, La. and as a teenager, in the spring of 1984, became a born again Christian in a small country church in Hineston,La. This April, Jinks posted a series of anti-Semitic comments on Facebook, including shaming Jews for not converting to Christianity.
“It’s a shame that the Jews, who should know better, reject their own Messiah (who fulfilled everyone of their prophecies) still believe that they need sacrifices and the Temple to sacrifice them in,” Jinks wrote. “Nonetheless, because of their rejection they will move forward with that plan.” The statement was made in response to a Jerusalem Post op-ed about rebuilding the Temple.
Jinks also wrote that “It seems like there’s a plan among world leaders to push this ‘Unity’ which is just the opposite of what Jesus taught and what Christians are supposed to do. We are called to be at odds with any religion that does not acknowledge Jesus as the Prince of Peace and the only way to the Father.”
Jinks also criticized the pope for advocating for unity between Jews, Christians and Muslims.
In a sermon last year on the 2020 election, Jinks referred to Washington politicians as “bloodsucking parasites” who seek “money, power and prestige.” “Bloodsucking parasites” is a meme that has been used by anti-Semites to refer to Jews.
DeSantis recently campaigned for Doug Mastriano, the far right GOP nominee for Pennsylvania governor, who has embraced Christian nationalists, and has made anti-Semitic comments on the campaign trail. DeSantis also invoked the name of George Soros, a Democratic, billionaire philanthropist and Holocaust survivor who is also the common target of anti-Semites.
DeSantis last month suspended Democratic state attorney Andrew Warren and mocked him as a “Soros-backed state attorney” over his refusal to prosecute charges related to abortion and gender affirming care for minors.
“We are suspending Soros-backed 13th circuit state attorney Andrew Warren for neglecting his duties as he pledges not to uphold the laws of the state,” DeSantis’ office said in a statement.
Neo-Nazi groups and anti-Semites are nothing new in Florida. One group, Sunshine State Nationalists (SSN), was established in early 2022 by “Pale Heretic,” an associate of two other hate groups, Goyim Defense League and the National Socialist Movement, according to a new report by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL).
Sunshine State Nationalists refers to itself as “Ron’s Holocaust Task Force,” a reference to DeSantis, and engages in activism “to free the state from Jewish rule from Miami, Dayton, Palm Beach County and Boca Raton,” according to the ADL report.
The ADL reported that Florida is home to an extensive and interconnected network of white supremacists and other far-right extremist groups. New groups like White Lives Matter, Sunshine State Nationalists and Florida Nationalists have begun recruiting and demonstrating, while more established extremist Florida groups like the Oath Keepers and Proud Boys have been shifting their focus to local politics.
Hate crimes continued to rise in Florida over the last several years. According to the FBI’s 2020 Hate Crime Statistics report, 56.1 percent of nationally reported religion-based hate crimes in 2020 targeted the Jewish community. In Florida, hate crimes against Jews accounted for 80 percent of the religiously motivated incidents in 2020, and anti-Semitic hate crimes have risen 300 percent since 2012.
Florida has seen a dramatic rise in anti-Semitic incidents, according to ADL’s annual “Audit of Antisemitic Incidents.” In 2021, the number of reported incidents increased 50 percent over 2020 numbers, rising from 127 to 190. This included 142 instances of harassment, 47 instances of vandalism and one anti-Semitic assault.
In August of 2022, the Florida Commission on Ethics found a significant increase in violent rhetoric in right-wing online spaces after FBI agents seized potentially top secret documents hidden at trump’s Mar-a-Lago property. Threats have largely targeted federal law enforcement and Department of Justice officials, including law enforcement officers who were onsite for the search and magistrate Judge Bruce Reinhart, who signed off on the search warrant.
Florida also is home to the most people charged in relation to the bloody, failed January 6 insurrection at the Capitol by trump supporters. Of the 855 individuals charged in connection to the insurrection, 90 (10.5 percent) hail from Florida, said the ADL report, “Hate in the Sunshine State: Extremism & Antisemitism in Florida, 2020–2022.”
Anti-Semitism, of course, didn’t start with trump but during his 2016 campaign, he didn’t blanch from singling out prominent Jews as part of a “global power structure” that doesn’t “have your good in mind.” He spoke highly of white supremacists, spoke of “blood suckers,” told Jewish Republicans they wouldn’t support him “because I don’t want your money,” and shared an image of a Star of David atop a pile of cash.
As president, trump spoke of the “very fine people” marching among the white supremacists in Charlottesville, Va. It was followed by a significant rise in anti-Semitic violence as pipe bombs were sent to favorite trump targets such as Soros, and the synagogue massacre in Pittsburgh, the deadliest anti-Semitic attack in U.S. history.
On Sept. 3, Cynthia Hughes, founder of the Patriot Freedom project, was a keynote speaker at trump’s “Save America” rally in Wilkes-Barre, Pa. She moaned about the plight of her nephew, Tim Hale-Cusanelli, and how he has been “mistreated” in jail after being convicted for his role in the January 6 insurrection.
Hale-Cusanelli was known to express negative views about Jews, minorities and women. He told colleagues that Jews “are ruining everything and did not belong here,” and that “Hitler should have finished the job.” Hale-Cusanelli alsos was photographed wearing a distinctive Hitlerian mustache.
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene. R-Ga., the hateful face of the Republican Party, has suggested that the deadly neo-Nazi rally in Charlottesville, where white supremacists chanted “Jews will not replace us,” was actually an “inside job” to “further the agenda of the elites.”
Two years before her 2020 election to Congress, Greene shared a video claiming “an unholy alliance of leftists, capitalists, and Zionist supremacists has schemed to promote immigration and miscegenation with the deliberate aim of breeding us out of existence in our own homelands.” She also wondered publicly if the Rothschilds had used space lasers to start a series of forest fires in California to clear public land for a rail network.
She posed for campaign photos with a white-supremacist leader and then refused to renounce the man and she approved of a claim that the Israeli intelligence service assassinated John F. Kennedy.

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