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Jewish Palm Beach County Commissioner denounces Gov. DeSantis' office over Nazi rally response

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Palm Beach County Commissioner Greg Weiss speaking at the county's commission meeting | February 2, 2022

Palm Beach County Commissioner Greg Weiss, who is Jewish, turned a regular commission meeting into a quick lesson about anti-Semitism.

Speaking at a commission meeting yesterday, Weiss condemned Governor Ron DeSantis' office for a deleted tweet that downplayed a recent neo-Nazi rally this weekend near Orlando.

"I’m sorely disappointed that the governor has taken no action," said Weiss. "As somebody of the Jewish faith, whose family was run out of Europe, some of them put into concentration camps and unfortunately some of them exterminated. It’s just reprehensible."

Christina Pushaw, press secretary for Gov. Ron DeSantis, made unsubstantiated claims on Sunday evening when she suggested that the Nazi demonstration may have been a political stunt by staffers in the Democratic party.

"Do we even know they're Nazis? Or is this a stunt like the 'white nationalists' who crashed the Youngkin rally in Charlottesville and turned out to be Dem staffers?, said Pushaw. "I trust Florida law enforcement to investment and am awaiting their conclusions."

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Governor Ron DeSantis' press secretary, Christina Pushaw, was widely criticized for a tweet that downplayed Nazi ragalia at a neo-Nazil rally near Orlando. The tweet has since been deleted.

Commissioner Weiss slammed Pushaw's tweet.

"For somebody related to the governor's office, to publicly blame their political opponents because of these misguided and misdirected people, is so offensive," Weiss said.

At a recent news conference — a day after Pushaw's tweet — Gov. DeSantis pushed back against widespread calls to condemn the Nazi salutes, anti-Jewish slurs, and Nazi regalia. DeSantis instead called the demonstrators "jackasses" while expressing his appreciation for Israel. DeSantis claimed that political opponents on the left are using the rally to smear him.

Other local elected leaders, such as U.S. Senator Rick Scott, a Republican, directly denounced the activities at the neo-Nazi rally.

"The hateful and anti-Semitic demonstrations reported in Florida today have no place in our state," said Scott.

"Across America, we’ve seen a heartbreaking and disgusting rise in hate like this. We must always condemn it and continue to stand strongly with our Jewish communities."

Wilkine Brutus is a reporter and producer for WLRN and a guest faculty member at the Poynter Institute. The South Florida native produces stories on topics surrounding local news, culture, art, politics and current affairs.