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Florida Governor Signs Groundbreaking pro-Israel Legislation into Law

On March 10, 2016, Florida Governor Rick Scott signed SB 86 into law prohibiting the State Board of Administration from investing in companies that boycott Israel.  Florida became the third state to pass this ground breaking anti-BDS legislation during the current legislative cycle across the country. In a statement released to the media, Scott said:

I am proud to sign this important bill into law and join the Florida Legislature in sending this message: the State of Florida will not waver in our support of Israel, one of our greatest allies and friends. The Boycott, Divestment and Sanction movement is fueled by anti-Semitism, and has no place in Florida or any part of the world that values freedom and democracy. The State of Florida stands firm with our ally Israel and will not support those that participate in this intolerant movement.

When the State Senate unanimously passed the anti-BDS legislation on January 21, 2016, we wrote:

The ‘scrutinized companies” Florida legislation would:

Require the State Board of Administration to identify all companies that are boycotting Israel or are engaged in a boycott of Israel in which the public fund owns direct or indirect holdings by a specified date; requiring the public fund to create and maintain the Scrutinized Companies that Boycott Israel List that names all such companies; prohibiting a state agency or local governmental entity from contracting for goods and services that exceed a specified amount if the company has been placed on the Scrutinized Companies that Boycott Israel List.

The legislation is modeled on one that passed in South Carolina, last session in Columbia, spearheaded by State Rep. Alan Clemmons. It has the support of the Israel Allies Foundation in Washington, which is seeking to see it adopted in other jurisdictions across the US.

Listeners to the weekly Lisa Benson Show that airs Sunday on KKNT 960 The Patriot out of Phoenix heard South Carolina Rep. Clemmons discuss the model legislation during an interview on December 6, 2015. LISTEN to the podcast here.

When the Florida House passed the companion measure on February24, 2016, Israel Allies Foundation executive director, E.J. Kimball noted:

We applaud the State of Florida for making Senate Bill 86 the law. Florida’s new anti-discrimination/boycott law is good as a matter of economic policy, public policy and foreign policy. This is a great accomplishment for the pro-Israel community, and a resounding defeat for the hatred and bigotry of the BDS Movement.”

We salute Senator Negron, Representative Workman, Representative Moskowitz and Representative Rader for their leadership and public service. It is important to note the BDS Movement’s use of dishonesty and anti-Semitic insinuations about Jewish money and control in opposing the passage of this legislation.

IAF is proud to have played a leading role in this victory. The passage of this law is the result of more than two years of legal research, policy development and educational resourcing by our experts.

Many different communities came together in order to ensure the success of this legislation. It is important to note the particularly important roles played by Stand With Us, Chabad of Tallahassee, the Jewish Community Relations Councils, and the hundreds of churches and Christian faith leaders around the State of Florida. These groups led the effort by delivering terrific community engagement in support of the campaign. The timing and importance of this victory cannot be overstated. It was truly an honor for IAF to contribute our expertise and educational resources to this effort.

Republican presidential hopeful Florida U.S. Senator Marco Rubio issued this statement when the Florida house passed the anti-BDS legislation:

I would like to commend the Florida Legislature for passing this law to ensure that Florida’s tax dollars do not contribute to the anti-Israel, anti-Semitic and bigoted Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Movement. This movement significantly threatens peace in the Middle East and directly harms the economies of Florida and the United States.

It is more important than ever that we stand united with our close ally, Israel, and oppose the discriminatory labeling guidelines recently issued by the European Commission on both the state and federal levels. Recently, Senator Wyden and I introduced a Senate bill opposing the new European Union labeling guidelines and sent a message to the world that America will not be silent in the face of this form of anti-Semitism.

I encourage other states to take up this issue and help bring this kind of moral clarity to Washington, D.C.

We hope that other states will take up this anti-BDS legislation supported by Senator Rubio and others in Congress.  Congratulations to the tireless staff of the Israel Allies Foundation involved in development and advocacy for this important legal bulwark supporting the economy of the only democratic ally of the US in the Middle East, Israel.

RELATED ARTICLE: More Than One Million Jobs and $1 Billion in Tax Cuts in Florida

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in the New English Review.

Sen. Tom Cotton: U.S. Discriminates against Christian Refugees

Arkansas U.S. Senator Tom Cotton “broke news” today that the U.S. “inadvertently” discriminates against  Christians among Syrian Refugee Admissions.

Map of States Opposing Syrian Refugees  Daily Signal Heritage Foundation 11-17-15

At least that is the impression lent  by the Washington Times, report  this morning,  “U.S. ‘discriminates’ against Christian refugees, accepts 96% Muslims, 3% Christians:”

Less than 3 percent of the Syrian refugees admitted to the United States so far are Christian and 96 percent are Muslim, the result of a referral system that Republican Sen. Tom Cotton says “unintentionally discriminates” against Christians.

State Department figures released Monday showed that the current system overwhelmingly favors Muslim refugees. Of the 2,184 Syrian refugees admitted to the United States so far, only 53 are Christians while 2,098 are Muslim, the Christian News Service reported.

Mr. Cotton and Sen. John Boozman, both Arkansas Republicans, called Monday for a moratorium on resettlements, a White House report on vetting procedures, and a re-evaluation of the refugee-referral process.

“[T]he United States’ reliance on the United Nations for referrals of Syrian refugees should also be re-evaluated,” said Mr. Cotton in a statement. “That reliance unintentionally discriminates against Syrian Christians and other religious minorities who are reluctant to register as refugees with the United Nations for fear of political and sectarian retribution.”

The current system relies on referrals from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. Syria’s population in 2011 was 90 percent Muslim and 10 percent Christian, CNS said.

Mr. Cotton and Mr. Boozman called Monday for a temporary moratorium on resettlements and “a requirement that the President certify the integrity of the security vetting process as a condition of lifting the moratorium.”

“The American people have long demonstrated unmatched compassion for the world’s persecuted and endangered. But when bringing refugees to our shores, the U.S. government must put the security of Arkansans and all Americans first,” Mr. Cotton said. “No terrorist should be able to take advantage of the refugee process to threaten the United States.”

This confirms what Mike Bates and I reported in our June 2015 New English Review with Ann Corcoran. See: Trojan Horse Federal Refugee ProgramNote this exchange:

Gordon:  Ann, one of the most disturbing parts of this U.N. controlled program is the patent discrimination against endangered Christian refugees, legitimately, from places like Syria, Iraq and other locations. What is the evidence of that?

Corcoran:  Let’s just take the Syrian refugee issue. So far the State Department has brought in a small number of Syrians, relatively speaking, into the country. One would think that we would be choosing first and foremost the Christians who are in real danger. But we are bringing mostly Sunni Muslims. There were about 800 Syrians who have been brought into the country in the last few years. Now the State Department and the U.N. have 11,000 in the pipeline waiting to come into the U.S.

But of the 800 that have come in so far, approximately 700 are Sunni Muslims, there were only 43 Christians among the Syrian refugees that have come in so far. That translates to approximately 92 percent of refugees coming in from Syria are Muslims.

I’m told that that is mostly because we are bringing them in from U.N. camps, where the Muslims are found.  Christians do not go to the U.N. camps, but to Turkey if they get out of Syria at all, where they’re taken care of by the Syriac church.

That pattern of Christians avoiding UN refugee camps was also cited in our interview with Joseph Kassab of the Iraqi Christian Advocacy and Empowerment Institute in the November NER, Iraqi Christians Face Extinction:

Gordon:  What are the current conditions of Iraqi Christian refugee camps in the Kurdish Region and what kinds of assistance are they receiving?

Kassab:  The current conditions for Iraqi Christian IDPs are very chaotic and horrific. The Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) is doing its best to provide for them. However, they are unable to absorb more than 3 million refugees from Syria and Yazidis in their region. The Iraqi government has done nothing for its citizen IDPs. Corruption is very high among the Iraqi government officials and that by itself makes distribution of relief to its IDPs very poor. The UN and humanitarian local and international NGOs are unable to function properly due to lack of coordination and efficient capacity. Therefore people are losing hope and are availing of any opportunity to escape abroad. Christians are urban refugees-IDPs meaning that they do not live in UN refugee camps. Instead they seek shelter with relatives, in unfinished buildings, parks and churches. Overall, this support can be very short lived because volunteering always has a sunset.

Nina Shea of the Washington, DC-based Hudson Institute Center for Religious Freedom in a separate Fox News.com report added:

The UN is basically unloading; it’s emptying out its camps. It’s not seeking those who are outside its camps, much less giving affirmative action for those who are facing genocide. It’s just an expedience measure for those who are in their own camps, so non-Muslim minorities are poorly represented among them.

What is confounding was the petulant response of President Obama at his Antalya G20 Summit press conference on this matter. His remarks were allegedly directed at US Texas Senator Ted Cruz for having the effrontery to suggest that Syrian Christians and other threatened non-Muslim minorities be granted some preference for Refugee Admissions and Muslims sent to Muslim majority countries. The Washington Timesreported that, “at his G20 news conference Monday in Turkey, President Obama described as ‘shameful’ the idea of giving religious preferences to refugees.”That’s not American. That’s not who we are. We don’t have religious tests to our compassion,’ Mr. Obama said.”

We would suggest that the President bone up on how the UN controls who gets admitted as  humanitarian refugees in America. That American taxpayers are funding this plenary program run by executive fiat under the Refugee Act of 1980 co-authored by Vice President Biden and the late Sen. Edward Kennedy. It is time for Congress urged on by more than 27 Governors concerned about admission of possible terrorist refugees to do something. That is why US House Speaker Pat Ryan proposed a “pause” in the Syrian Refugee Program.  If  you listen to Deputy National Security Adviser, Ben Rhodes,  Anne Richards, assistant Secretary for the Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration, they would have you believe that the 10,000 Syrian Refugees bring brought here in the current fiscal year were all vetted.

This morning I listened to a news conference convened by Voluntary Agencies and NGOs to combat the concerns of the more than two dozen governors.  They represented that the UNHCR has an advanced retina scanning biometric system capable of capturing information to track the millions of displaced Syrian refugees in their camps. That DHS is capable of checking the records of these Syrian refugees despite evidence that documents may either not exist or are forged. Further, that if the Governors of states do not participate in resettlement programs that these very same Voluntary agencies stand ready to make more money to distribute them. Moreover, that if states deny those benefits to refugee clients, the clients with their green cards can simply pick up like any other US citizen and move to another state.  To top things off, they represented that no terrorists have been admitted as refugees.  They obviously forgot  about the  refugee Tsarneav brothers who perpetrated the bloody Boston Marathon bombing. Or the two Iraqi asylees, caught in a 2011 FBI sting in Kentucky purchasing weapons to be sent to Al Qaeda.  Then think of the dozens of Soimali emigre youths recruited by radical Imams to fight and die for Al Shabaab in Somalia. Consider  the Somali emigre aircraft cleaner who had the run of the Twin Cities airport who left to fight and die for ISIS in Syria. Listen to this Syrian Refugee Admissions press conference.

Yesterday, we reported that Florida Governor Rick Scott sent a letter to US House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senator Majority Leader Mitch McConnell suggesting that for all intent and purposes state governors have no legal standing to contest the Refugee Admissions Program, but that Congress does. He wrote:

It is our understanding that the state does not have the authority to prevent the federal government from funding the relocation of these Syrian refugees to Florida even without state   support.  Therefore, we are asking the United States Congress to take immediate and aggressive action to prevent President Obama and his administration from using any federal tax dollars to fund the relocation of up to 425 Syrian refugees (the total possible number of refugees pending for state relocation support at this time) to Florida, or anywhere in the United States, without an extensive evaluation of the risk these individuals may pose to our national security.

As the federal elected body that exercises oversight and authorizes federal spending, please take any action available through the powers of the United States Congress to prevent federal allocations toward the relocation of Syrian refugees without extensive examination into how this would affect our homeland security.

Note what my Florida State House Representative, Mike Hill, a graduate of the US Air Force Academy and veteran  said in a Pensacola News Journal article on the Governor’s action:

If they come from a country that fosters, supports or defends terrorism as a legitimate activity to achieve a goal, then it doesn’t matter if there is a small number or large number of refugees coming from those nations. We must refuse them entry without a robust vetting process, which we currently do not have.

The first test of that may come on Thursday at a House Immigration Sub Committee Hearing Chaired by Rep. Trey Gowdy.  The lineup of witnesses includes:

Ms. Anne C. Richard (Invited)
Assistant Secretary
Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration, United States Department of State

Ms. Barbara L. Strack (Invited)
Chief, Refugee Affairs Division, Refugee, Asylum, and International Operations Directorate
United States Citizenship and Immigration Services

Mr. Seth Jones
Director
International Security and Defense Policy Center, RAND Corporation

Mr. Mark Krikorian
Executive Director
Center for Immigration Studies

Mr. Mark Hetfield
President and Chief Executive Officer
HIAS  (Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, one of nine federal resettlement contractors)

Let’s see if the US Refugee Admissions Program executives at the State Department and DHS/ICE show up for this House Immigration Committee hearing. Stay tuned for developments.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in the New English Review.

Florida Governor: Stop Funding Syrian Muslim Resettlement in the Sunshine State

Florida Governor Rick Scott requested a halt to federal funding of the scheduled resettlement of 425 Syrian Refugees in the Sunshine State.  This follows similar actions by Republican gubernatorial colleagues in Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Louisiana, Massachusetts Michigan, and Texas.  He  sent a letter this afternoon to U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan, Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell and all members of the Florida U.S. Senate and Congressional delegation outlining his concerns.

states taking syrian migrants cnn

He adds his concerns regarding the ability of the Administration to vett Syrian refugees to prevent the possible infiltration of ISIS jihadis as occurred last weekend in Paris.  The Syrian passport of a suicide bomber or shahids (martyr) was found at the Paris soccer stadium a check of which revealed his entry into the EU via Greece in early October, 2015

In his letter to House Speaker Ryan and Senate Majority Leader McConnell, Governor Scott expressed his concerns:

Several organizations have requested that our state Department of Children and Families support the relocation of 425 possible Syrian refugees to Florida, as they receive federal funding to house these refugees in our state. Following the terrorist attacks by ISIS in Paris that killed over 120 people and wounded more than 350, and the news that at least one of the terror attack suspects gained access to France by posing as a Syrian refugee, our state agency will not support the requests we have received.

More importantly, however, it is our understanding that the state does not have the authority to prevent the federal government from funding the relocation of these Syrian refugees to Florida even without state  support. Therefore, we are asking the United States Congress to take immediate and aggressive action to prevent President Obama and his administration from using any federal tax dollars to fund the relocation of up to 425 Syrian refugees (the total possible number of refugees pending for state relocation support at this time) to Florida, or anywhere in the United States, without an extensive evaluation of the risk these individuals may pose to our nationalsecurity.

As the federal elected body that exercises oversight and authorizes federal spending, please take any action available through the powers of the United States Congress to prevent federal allocations toward the relocation of Syrian refugees without extensive examination into how this would affect our homeland security.

My office stands ready to provide any available information regarding this request for your immediate action.

RELATED ARTICLE: Do governors have any power when it comes to resettlement of third-worlders to their states?

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in the New English Review.