Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has defended the ban on Palestinian groups from attending Florida state colleges

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Politics / Monday, 30 October 2023 15:05

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has defended the ban on Palestinian groups from attending Florida state colleges, stating it's not about canceling culture. His opponent in the 2024 election, Vivek Ramaswami, accused him of hypocrisy, given his stance against cancel culture. DeSantis, a Republican presidential candidate, supported the ban due to Israel's ground offensive in Gaza following Hamas's attack on October 7th.

During an exclusive interview on "Meet the Press" with Kristen Welker of NBC News, DeSantis responded to Ramaswami's criticism, emphasizing that it wasn't about canceling culture. He argued that these groups had declared themselves part of the Hamas movement and that although they had the right to protest, they couldn't provide material support to terrorism.

DeSantis accused Palestinian groups on campuses of having ties to Hamas and stated that they had been decertified, denying them any taxpayer funds. He mentioned strict Florida laws against fundraising for groups like Hamas and said it wasn't a First Amendment issue but rather a matter of material support for terrorism.

According to Palestinian health officials, as of Sunday morning, more than 8,000 people, including women and children, have been killed in the Gaza Strip since the escalation began, with about 1,400 casualties in Israel.

DeSantis compared these Palestinian campus groups to committing "national suicide." The conflict between Israel and Hamas has ignited debates in colleges and universities across the country, leading to protests and demonstrations.

DeSantis ordered two state universities to shut down branches of the organization "Students for Justice in Palestine" last week, alleging violations of state laws against anti-Semitism.

Welker also asked DeSantis to clarify how he was interpreting Florida law, which states that providing material support or resources to a terrorist organization is prohibited. DeSantis responded that the groups' own statements indicated their affiliation with Hamas, making it their movement, not just solidarity.

DeSantis has taken a strong pro-Israel stance, stating that the US shouldn't accept refugees from Gaza, claiming that not all of them are connected to Hamas but are all "anti-Semites."

Vivek Ramaswami had faced criticism from the right for his position on Israel even before Hamas launched its deadly attack on Israel. In a speech at the Republican Jewish Coalition's annual conference in Las Vegas on Saturday, he defended his stance and clarified his strong support for Israel. His comments followed his recent call for lawmakers to reject President Joe Biden's aid package providing over $100 billion to Israel and Ukraine, suggesting that aid to Israel should depend on the country setting clear goals for its military strategy.