Gov. Ron DeSantis is showing that he’s more than just talk and backing up is support for Israel. After flying home Americans trapped in the war torn country, he’s now using his power as governor of Florida to provide America’s close ally with weapons and ammunition to fight terrorists.
Florida has sent cargo planes with healthcare supplies, drones, body armor and helmets, said Jeremy Redfern, a spokesman for the governor’s office. The state also worked with groups to supply unspecified amounts of weapons and ammunition that were privately funded, Redfern told The Associated Press.
The governor’s office said it acted at the request of Israel’s consul general in Miami. Maor Elbaz-Starinsky, the consul general, initially said Thursday he did not request drones, body armor or helmets, nor had he talked to the governor about help getting weapons or ammunition through private parties.
Elbaz-Starinsky said later Thursday that others in the Israeli government had communicated with DeSantis’ office to determine what would be sent to Israel.
DeSantis has often applied his official powers to take actions that coincide with his larger political goals. Florida used state funds to fly migrants from Texas to Democratic-led areas such as Martha’s Vineyard. And earlier this week, his administration ordered state universities to disband chapters of a pro-Palestinian student group. Since Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack, Florida has also run flights for about 700 Americans evacuated from Israel.
The move has made some liberals go insane, calling DeSantis an “international arms dealer.”
Florida’s military aid comes as Republican presidential contenders attend the upcoming Republican Jewish Coalition’s annual gathering of donors kicking off in Las Vegas this Friday.
“For years,” writes The New York Times, “the annual meeting of the Republican Jewish Coalition has been a routine stop on the presidential primary trail, an opportunity for would-be presidents to demonstrate their foreign-policy credentials while plying donors with requisite one-liners.
But nothing is routine this time.
With an escalating conflict in Israel that threatens to spread across the region and a rise in tensions and antisemitism in the United States, the meeting will be like none of the others in the organization’s decades-long history….Security has been tightened and seats added to accommodate a wave of new attendees who decided to come after the Oct. 7 attacks. An empty Shabbat table will sit in the middle of the room, honoring the more than 200 people being held hostage in Gaza.
And while the overall tone will be subdued, members of the organization said they expected nothing short of full-throated, unequivocal support for Israel and the protection of Jews in America from the 2024 Republican field.”
DeSantis recently saw one of his most prominent Jewish supporters, Randy Fine, flip from him to Trump. “Fine, a member of the state House, criticized the governor in an op-ed in The Washington Times, saying that he had been an early supporter of DeSantis’s but that the governor was not strongly countering antisemitism in the Sunshine State,” noted The Hill.
DeSantis dismissed the flap as sour grapes from Fine over losing the plush job of university president of Florida Atlantic University. “He was up for a presidency of FAU. He didn’t get it. Now he’s running for (state) Senate,” DeSantis said at a campaign stop in New Hampshire, according to The Messenger, a news website. “He’s trying to ingratiate himself. Totally ridiculous.”
The Florida governor is scheduled to speak to the Republican Jewish Coalition speak on Saturday morning.