security

Florida approves budget for security at Jewish schools, but not without protest from the community.
Florida lawmakers are under attack for passing a legislation that allocates state money to protect Jewish schools. The lawmakers took this decision citing the recent rise in attacks and threats towards the Jewish community. Critics, however, pointed out there are many other groups that have received similar threats, but no attempt has been aimed at protecting them.

The Orthodox Union, an organization of Orthodox Jews, presented a proposal seeking protection of Jewish schools in Florida. Legislators enthusiastically jumped at the proposal and passed the bill, allocating $654,000 in security grants towards Jewish day schools. Jewish schools have recently been evacuating their students from Florida and surrounding areas following a series of bomb threats.

Mimi Jankovits, the director of Teach Florida, affiliated with the Orthodox Union, said Florida wants to expand its security funding to other schools as well. However, since Jewish schools have seen the sharpest rise in threats, protection to only Jewish schools was of “immediate” requirement. Brevard County state Rep. Randy Fine also agrees that anti-Semitism is at an all-time high and protection to Jewish schools is an urgent need. The funds will be used for security personnel, cameras, fences, bullet-proof glasses, alarm systems and so on.

Others, such as the ACLU, view the allocation of funds for specifically Jewish schools as an act of discrimination. ACLU Florida’s Kara Gross says whether or not intentionally, the legislation definitely singles out one religion from the others. She reminds that even Muslims, Sikhs, and immigrants are facing the heat of racial hatred and have received threats. As such, the allocation of funds exclusively for Jewish schools is something to be worried about. Whether or not the ACLU will fight a case in court is still not known.

Similar to the ACLU’s opinion, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) Florida, too expressed their surprise at this move. Wilfredo Ruiz, the communications director for Florida, said that while the organization was happy steps were taken to protect the Jewish schools, it also felt that something similar should have been done for schools of other religions as well.

So far, nearly 170 bomb threats against Jewish institutions have been reported by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL).

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