I first set eyes on two swamplands more than 70 years ago. Both would find a special place in my heart for years to come. One was Florida, the other Israel. Since then, I have spent my life working to improve and build them both.
Education has always been close to my heart. Everyone deserves access to a good education, which is why I championed the Stanley G. Tate Florida Prepaid College Program. It provides Florida families an affordable way to save for their children’s college education. Recently, U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen paid homage to the successful program from the floor of the House of Representatives.
I was also among the founding members of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), which seeks to educate U.S. lawmakers about the importance of standing with Israel.
Unlike Florida, Israel had few natural resources to rely on and had to be built from nothing, with a land mass almost eight times smaller than the Sunshine State. Israel achieved the unthinkable by emphasizing innovation through education. Its strongest asset became the Israeli mind, with everything from cures for cancer to computer chips emerging from the tiny Jewish state.
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However, it seems that some people don’t like successful Jews, so a new movement has arisen to destroy the Jewish state and undermine the U.S. economy. This group does not believe in using guns or tanks, but rather disinformation. Their battlegrounds are not on the streets of Jerusalem or Tel Aviv, but rather on the hearts and minds of young impressionable Americans, especially those on university campuses.
They seek to boycott, divest and sanction (BDS) the Jewish state into submission by selling a pack of lies to a generation of uneducated youth. Compar-ing Israel to some of the worst regimes in history, they distort the truth and peddle hatred as the new enlightenment.
That’s why I decided to take a stand against this dangerous group by joining forces with Proclaiming Justice to the Nations (PJTN), a Christian Zionist organization that recently began a nationwide campaign to facilitate grassroots resolutions against the anti-Semitic BDS movement. After PJTN successfully spearheaded the first anti-BDS resolution in Tennessee, legislators in Pennsylvania, New York, Indiana, Virginia, Georgia and Alabama followed suit.
I was also pleased to personally advise Florida activists on introducing anti-BDS resolutions that were adopted by both the House and Senate of Florida.
Similar grassroots anti-BDS resolution campaigns are now under way in another 40 states across America, as well as in 10 other countries worldwide.
Passing state resolutions against BDS is the quickest and most effective way of dealing a deadly blow to this “disease” before it is allowed to metastasize. The movement’s strongest breeding grounds are university campuses, and state legislators carry great weight with the state university faculties and governing boards, which must eradicate BDS from their institutions. Make no mistake — BDS isn’t just about Israel, it is the new form of politically correct anti-Semitism that has led to intimidation and attacksagainst Jewish students nationwide.
No student should be afraid to attend classes or wear symbols of their religion in public, but for many young Americans this is the environment that BDS has created. Intimidation should not be used in place of education, and the facts on Israel, like anything else, should be freely available to our young people.
One state at a time, we will eradicate hatred and divisiveness from this country, because every American should be able to live and learn in freedom. And that’s what America is all about.
Stanley G. Tate is a Florida businessman and philanthropist. He is chairman of Proclaiming Justice to the Nations.