Republicans in Florida have been so riled up by the anti-sharia brigade that they may have ended up stuffing another minority that actually likes Republicans. They have also managed to bring together the American Civil Liberties Union, the Anti-Defamation League, and the League of Jewish Women in frustration at some pending legislation.
You see, a bill that sailed through the Florida House and looks certain to get through Florida Senate will effectively ban Orthodox Jewish women from getting divorced. The Orthodox Jews use rabbinical courts for such things, and the Florida proposal will prevent the state from recognizing them (including if the decision was made in Israel).
Jewish business leaders and those who work to attract Israeli business to the state are worried. The ADL issued a statement on their concerns:
"This legislation … could undermine Florida's strong reputation and track record as a center for trade with Israel and other nations," and "serve as an incentive for them to take their business elsewhere," Barkey said.
We all know politicians are a bit dense as to other parts of their state, but surely the Republicans behind this realize that Florida has a big Jewish and Israeli-American dual population? Has the yutz who came up with the wording ever been to Miami? Does he think that annoying a large percentage of the Florida population that is also quite wealthy and politically active is a good idea?
Rabbi Brad Hirschfield is obviously quite concerned with this and has issued a video statement on the bill.
"'The issue here is the extent to which we are willing to protect people's freedom of individual expression and conscience,' says Rabbi Brad Hirschfield, president of the National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership, discussing pending Florida legislation, also referred to by some as the "anti-Sharia" law."
Gov. Rick Scott supports the bill, but has issued this rather confused statement on it.
"America was founded on principles of religious freedom. In Florida, we have many religions and cultures that contribute to the rich diversity of our great state. As Americans, we have the expressed right to freely practice our religion, and I applaud the Florida House for passing HB 351 that would make clear the constitutional rights of our citizens will be protected."
Maybe he thinks "religious freedom" only applies to Christians, and by banning other religions' practices he is protecting religious freedom for Christians or something.
When are politicians going to learn that scattergun legislation has a habit of hitting targets that weren't intended in the first place? Instead of merely concentrating on what they are trying to prevent, the worst aspects of Sharia law, they are going for the general approach which has wider consequences.
At least they haven't tried to ban male circumcision, as San Francisco tried to do a few years ago (and Germany has done), before a bill signed by Governor Brown banned cities from doing so.
Republicans in Florida seem to be determined to invoke the ire of the Jewish community of Florida, even the ones that actually might vote Republican. Florida is one of the most important electoral states. Guess they missed the memo from Reince Priebus that Republicans are supposed to make nice with minorities. Future Hillary for president in 2016 staffers are no doubt smiling with glee over this one.