Portrait of Ron DeSantis

Remarks to the Republican Jewish Coalition Annual Leadership Summit in Las Vegas, Nevada

October 28, 2023

Well, hello RJC. I bring greetings from the Free State of Florida. It's great to be back and see so many friendly faces. I just wish it were under a little bit different circumstances because I think the last few weeks have been an incredibly difficult time for us all, not just our friends in Israel, but people all throughout the United States of America.

On October 7, we witnessed a level of barbarity that had really been unforeseen -- that had not been seen in recent decades. I remember dealing with al Qaeda in Iraq when I was serving on active duty, we remember the horrors of ISIS. What they did, what these Hamas terrorists did, by butchering babies, by mutilating people, by taking elderly hostage, this reached a new depth for the depravity of mankind. And make no mistake about it, this was the most deadly attack against Jews since the Holocaust itself. And if these barbarians had their way, they would try to do a second Holocaust right in our own time. That is the stakes of what we are facing with the Hamas attack on the people of Israel.

And I know it's been personal for a lot of people here. It's been personal for my wife and I. In Florida, of course, we have one of the strongest Jewish communities in the country, one of the strongest Israeli-American communities in the country. And what we saw is the personification of evil. That's what it was. And I just think about, there's a story that I was told where you had an IDF reservist who had gotten activated. And so, he missed the Brit Milah of his son, so they had to do it over zoom. So he's there on zoom on the phone, and he's pronouncing the blessings as that's going on. And then at the end, he offered a concluding prayer. The prayer thanked God for giving him the life to see this moment, even though it was under less than ideal circumstances. And I just thought to myself, doesn't that just tell you the difference? Israel values life. The Hamas terrorists worship death. Don't tell me there's a moral equivalency here because there is not.

And I don't care what imbeciles on college campuses say, I don't care what liars in the media say, I don't care what reprobates at the United Nations say, we stand with Israel. We stand with the people of Israel. The United States will have their back. We will give them what they need so that they can defend themselves. And that means not just a couple of glancing blows, that means a complete and total victory in this conflict. Hamas must be no more at the end of this conflict.

Now when the news of this happened, I instinctively knew that this was going to be very important for the state of Florida, just with the connections that we have, with the people of Israel, the Jewish communities that we have in our own state. So we didn't just sit and lead through mere words. We took action to protect the people of our state in any way that we could. We activated special quick response forces for Florida Highway Patrol. We put Florida Department of Law Enforcement out in full force to protect our Jewish institutions, our synagogues, our day schools, Holocaust museums. They've already been able to rack up a number of arrests of people who were violating the law. But we've made it very clear in the state of Florida. If you mess with our Jewish community, we are going to hold you accountable.
We also knew that there were a lot of people that were struggling to be able to get out of the conflict. Many Floridians, but also many other Americans, and yet the State Department was no help, The US Embassy in Jerusalem was no help. The Biden administration was dragging its feet, so we decided to take action. We issued an executive order, and we provided planes to send to Israel and to bring people back to the United States to safety.

And how sad is it that the best the Biden administration could do was to dump people in Greece, they have to just somehow find a way home from Greece, and then the Biden administration sent them a bill for the trip to Greece. But you know, if you come across our border illegally, Biden will fly you all over this country free of charge. He'll put you up in hotels free of charge. But if you're an American leaving Israel, he's going to stick you with the bill. So we sprung into action, and we got it done. We've now rescued close to 700 Americans -- mostly Floridians, but not all because we're all Americans.

My wife and I met the first plane load that arrived in Florida, this is now a couple of weeks ago, and it was 271 people that they were able to bring back. 91 of them were children. So as we're waiting there at the foot of the of the stairs from the plane, you know, you see a mother and a father with four kids, the pet family dog all coming down. And I'll never forget, one of the mothers came up to me, pointed to her six year old daughter -- and my wife and I, we have a six year old daughter -- and she said, all my daughter has been saying for the last two days is mommy, I don't want the rockets anymore. I don't want the rockets anymore. I just want the state of Florida. I want Florida. Well, we made it happen. We brought them back to the state of Florida.

We also looked and saw, it was really appalling what's happened in so many American universities in response to the Hamas terrorist attacks. Before the blood was even dry on the Israeli civilians who were massacred, you had college students going out and demonstrating in favor of Hamas. And I was the first presidential candidate to say, and I know a lot of them have now said the same, but no one, you know, I'm always first and then people kind of follow through. That's how we've governed Florida, and that's how we are in this. But I said very clearly that when I'm President, if you are in our country on a student visa and you're making common cause with Hamas, I am canceling your visa, and I'm sending you home where you belong.

We also saw the rise of these chapters called Students for Justice in Palestine. And this is a group that took pains to say that they don't, quote, stand in solidarity with what Hamas did, that they are one in the same with what Hamas did. Well, you know, you may have a First Amendment right to say a lot of dumb things, but you do not have a right to give material support to terrorists. So we deactivated the Students for Justice in Palestine in the state of Florida. It's done. And we're not going to put up with this. I'm sick of funding our enemies. We're not doing that anymore in this country.

But it raises -- and yes, we're happy to take action in Florida, but if you look, and if you looked at some of the university presidents in Florida and the statements they put out, they weren't morally equivalent. They were very strong. That's what it should be, yet that was so rare as to what was going. You now have in most of these universities, if you're a Jewish student, you don't feel safe even going to class in some of these places. Do you want to go to Cooper Union with how they handled that? This has been disgraceful, but it's been very eye opening because I got through both Harvard and Yale and came out more conservative than when I went in. And that's not easy to do. I know campus leftism, I've been there, but even in my day, I would have never saw that type of activism where you're actually celebrating terrorists and openly being antisemitic. This is like something that, and the media doesn't care when they're doing it. They give them a free ride when they're doing it.
But what it raises is how sick these universities have become because they've been captured by ideology. They've been captured and corrupted by a woke agenda. Anytime these institutions become corrupted by that they become useless for us. And in Florida, we've taken action on that. This whole thing of DEI -- diversity, equity, and inclusion -- that's anti-Israel, it's anti-Jewish 100% if you take that to the logical conclusion. The way it's practiced, DEI is really discrimination, exclusion, and indoctrination. That has no place in our public universities. And in Florida, we have banned in from our public universities. It's done. But we need to take this seriously because it's only going to get worse unless we do for the country what we've done in Florida, and that is very simple. It's time for us to fight back, and fight back we must.Florida was also the first state to announce that I'm calling the legislature back in for a special session in the next couple of weeks, we are going to expand our state based sanctions against the Iranian regime. We already have some of the strongest in the United States, we now have an ability to expand those because the money that's going into Iran, they're not using it to make the lives of their people better. They're using it to fund terrorism throughout the Middle East. So we're standing up and we're doing what's right. And again, this is about leading not with mere words, but deeds. And we've done that time and time again. Now the other thing that I thought of and I thought close to home when I saw the attack, the other thing I and millions of Americans started to think of was, well, if Hamas can do that to Israel, which has very strong border security, what's going to happen in our country, where they've led almost 8 million people come in illegally. And they're not all coming from Mexico and Central America, they've come from Iran, they've come from China, they've come from Russia, they've come from the Middle East, in very, very large numbers. I always say I hope I'm wrong about this, but I don't think the math lies, there's unfortunately going to be a terrorist attack in this country in the ensuing years that we'll be able to trace back to what's happening at the border. So we are in an age in which terrorists wants to strike this country. So as President, I'm going to deal with the border on day one, we're going to declare it to be a national emergency, I'm sending the military to the border, I'm stopping the invasion, when you come in illegally, I'm sending you home, you got to go back to the country you came from.I am going to build the wall and I actually will have Mexico pay for it. And here's how you do it. Because I thought I mean, I thought it was very important to do the wall, we need it. This would not be happening at this level if we had a fully constructed wall, the way you make Mexico pay for it. You don't just say give me money. Of course, you're not going to do that you do, and we will do impose fees on the remittances that people send back to Mexico and Central America and other places, you'll raise billions of dollars. And we will construct that border wall and we will get it done. We're also going to recognize that part of the reason we have the problem at the border, the Mexican drug cartels are eating our lunch. They are killing tens of thousands of our fellow Americans, because of fentanyl overdoses. There are Angel moms all across this country who have lost children because of fentanyl overdose. And yet Biden just sits there and goes to the beach in Delaware, we are going to take action as commander in chief, you not only have a right, you have a duty to fight back against people that are invading your country and killing your people. And we will use deadly military force against the Mexican drug cartels. We're not putting up with it anymore.

I was also the first candidate to say that we in the United States cannot accept refugees from the Gaza Strip. And here's the thing. We got to start looking at these issues with clear eyes. Political correctness will end this country if we don't stop doing it. And I said you don't want the Gaza. And what they said was, well, they're not all Hamas. Well, look, they elected Hamas. Let's just be clear. They were cheering for Hamas when Hamas perpetrated this attack, just like they cheered when Al Qaeda knocked down the Twin Towers. They were cheering Palestinian Arabs when that happened. So it does. The question isn't whether you're all Hamas. The question is, do they teach young kids to hate Jews? Yes. Do they teach young kids that Israel should be wiped off the map? Actually, do they even have Israel in the map on their textbooks? No, it's not even there. So it's not a question of whether you're actually a terrorist or whether you're a member of Hamas or not. We can't vet all this stuff out. What I do know is if you bring in hundreds of thousands like people like AOC and the squad want, you will be importing toxic ideology and the pathologies of the Gaza strip into our own country. That is not what the American people deserve. It is not in the American people's interest to do that.

And so we've got to get smart about how we handle who comes into our country. Europe, what they have done by bringing massive amounts of people into their country, from the Middle East over the last 10 or 15 years, have those people assimilated into what--? No, they're bringing the same blood feuds that they're leaving in the Middle East, and they're replenishing them in places like Britain, in places like Germany. Germany, has more antisemitism today than at any time since Adolf Hitler and it is because they've been reckless with who they've led into this country. So no more political correctness. We've got to be smart about what we're doing. And we can't be importing problems from other parts of the country, particularly when you hate Jews and you don't want Israel to exist. I'm not taking you in, if that's your position, so just be clear.

Now, part of the reason we're here is because we have a president that is failing on all fronts. What did Biden do when he became president? He loosened the screws financially on the Iranian regime. Now, you know that Iran's the leading state sponsor of terrorists in the world, we just commemorated earlier this week, the 40th anniversary of the Marine Corps barracks bombing in Beirut, Lebanon, they killed more Marines, Iran through Hezbollah in 1983 in that one bombing that at any time since Iwo Jima, they killed hundreds of our service members when I was serving on active duty in Iraq, during the Iraq Campaign, and maybe even killed over a thousand. Hamas and Hezbollah would not even exist in their current form, if it wasn't for Iran. So when you go easy on Iran, you know, they're going to turn that money around and plow it into terrorism. And now what is Iran doing? Biden's got US troops in the Middle East. I'm not sure what their mission is. He hasn't been very clear on that. I do know that they're sitting ducks. I know that Iran is attacking them. What is Biden do in response? He attacks some buildings. That's not an appropriate, that's not a sufficient response. So he's going to get some people killed--.[AUDIO CUTS] Israel's right to defend itself. They have a right to go full tilt, we should not be saying one thing in public. And then restraining in private. Biden needs to toughen up, and he needs to get our allies back. He also wants to send money to the Gaza Strip. They say it's humanitarian assistance. But we know Hamas will take that assistance, and Hamas will use it to their own purposes. They didn't build all those terror tunnels with their own money. They commandeered his assistance over many, many years, and plowed it into terrorism, while some of their own people suffered. That's exactly what's going to happen if you keep sending money down there. We also need Biden and his ilk, to stop with the phony narratives. Stop trying to say that it's incumbent upon Israel to adopt a quote, two state solution. You can you please explain to me, how are you supposed to have a two state solution with people that don't believe in your right to exist as a Jewish state? It doesn't happen. You can't do it. You hear people say Gaza is quote, occupied. Israel pulled out of Gaza in 2005. They forcibly uprooted their own citizens out of Gaza. It is not occupied by Israel. They chose to throw their lot in with Hamas and misery has followed as a result, but they could have chosen a better path. We also are not going to accept the canard that somehow Judea and Samaria are occupied territories. They're disputed territories, but they are the most ancient Jewish lands going back to biblical times. So when you have these numbskulls on college campuses, saying that Israel is somehow a colonial power, no, no, no, the Jews were the ones originally that had the connection to the land. That's the opposite of colonialism. Read your history, read your Bible.

Finally, we have to fight back against media lies. The media lied about that Gaza hospital. That was not Israel that did it. That was a form of blood libel, quite frankly. But we're going to see more of this in the future. And we just got to say, we're not going to accept the fake narratives. We're not just going to bow down to whatever they're spewing. We're going to think critically, and we're going to fight back against the lies coming out of the media. So I think it's just important, before I conclude, you know, there's tropes out there about, oh, why do people support Israel and all this stuff? Let me just tell you, my support of Israel's because it's in the United States's national interest to support Israel. They're the most dependable ally we have, in a very troubled part of the world. Anything that happens there, they will have our back, there's no one else in the Middle East that you can say that. They're the only country in that region that shares our values. They're a Western country, they believe in free speech and democracy, and human rights. They also share, we have a lot of affinities back and forth with our people and their people and it's something that's been very great and has blossomed over these last 75 years in particular. It's also just the fact that we would not be here today as Americans were it not for what took place in the Holy Land thousands and thousands of years ago. The Judeo Christian tradition, is what Western civilization was built on. It was what this country was built on. And they are the caretakers of that important piece of land. So those are reasons why we support Israel.

Now, here's the thing, we're going to continue to have bad outcomes unless we change horses and have new people elected to leadership. Yes, the presidency. But up and down the ballot, our country is in a state of decline. I don't think that decline is inevitable. I think that the client has a choice. It's a choice that we as Americans are going to make over the next year, year and a half. I refuse to wave the white flag of surrender. I refuse to accept merely managing the client the decline a little bit better than the Democrats as being adequate to what faces us now, we need a full reversal of American decline. We need an American revival, a new birth of freedom in this country that will bring us back to where we belong. 2024 though is make or break, there's no mulligan's, no excuses. We have to get the job done. There is no substitute for victory. What we've shown in the state of Florida, is if you lead boldly, if you deliver big results, you can win over a lot of voters who never even voted Republican in their past. Heck, I won Miami Dade County by double digits. We won Palm Beach County, for the first time in 40 years as a Republican, we got the highest percentage of the Jewish vote of any Republican running for governor, it can be done.

The final thing I'll say is this. The reason why I'm running and motivated in this fight is I have a six a five and a three year old at home, we are in danger of being the first generation of Americans to leave to our kids and grandkids and America less prosperous and less free than the America we inherited. And that would be breaking faith with every generation of Americans up until the present time who've always labored and sacrificed so that the future generations would have the opportunity to be free. I'm a military veteran, I was just in DC again, and we were able to, we flew into Reagan airport and I've taken this a number of times, but as you're going in, you can sometimes fly right by the National Mall. You see the Lincoln Memorial, Washington all these great memorials and monuments that make you feel special as an American because that represents freedom and our ideals and everything that makes us unique. But every time I do that, I always make sure to look out the other side of the plane. Because the best monuments to freedom this country has aren't on our National Mall. If you look over the Potomac River from the Mall, you see a series of small nondescript monuments orderly arranged over the rolling hills of a place called Arlington National Cemetery. It occurred to me again yesterday, you can have the best constitution in the world, you can have the best Declaration of Independence in the world, these things do not run on autopilot. They require people to step up and defend freedom when it's threatened and sometimes put on a uniform, risk your life and indeed give the last full measure of devotion for service to this country. Now, we're not called upon to make those types of sacrifices. But we are called upon to stand firm for truth. We're called upon to hold our ground, not back down in the face of the left. And I can promise you this as your nominee for the Republican Party, I will deliver a big victory in November of 2024. As a leader, as a leader, I will always be somebody that you can be proud of. And as your President, I promise you this, I will not let you down. Thank you all. God bless you. Thanks so much. Thank you. God bless you RJC. On to victory in 2024. We did in Florida, we can do it all across these United States.

Ron DeSantis, Remarks to the Republican Jewish Coalition Annual Leadership Summit in Las Vegas, Nevada Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/367637

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