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Thursday, Aug 16, 2018
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Lawmaker’s attention-grabbing gambit works: Here’s a blog post about Lorde, Israel and Florida politics

A canceled Lorde concert in Israel isn't something that one would ordinarily associate with the busy work of Florida state lawmakers.

After all, they only have two months to pass legislation that addresses issues facing Floridians.

But Rep. Randy Fine, R-Palm Bay, is seizing upon the growing backlash to a movement called B.D.S., or boycott, divest from and sanction Israel, to push legislation that would make it illegal for Florida governments to ink contracts with companies that support B.D.S. A current law, passed in 2016, bans any contracts of more than $1 million with companies that protest Israel, but the new legislation would allow for no contracts at all.

Sen. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg, is sponsoring the Senate version.

"I am proud to stand with Representative Fine in defense of Israel and to show support for our friends and for an important ally," said Brandes in November when he filed his legislation with Fine. "Strengthening our position by removing the $1 million threshold sends a strong message—Florida stands with Israel."

But that was then. How do you promote during a session when it can easily be lost?

Enter international pop star Lorde. At the urging of two activists from her home country of New Zealand, Lorde in December canceled a planned concert in Tel Aviv. The activists were then sued under an Israeli law that allows for civil litigation by anyone who can claim economic damages. In this case, about $13,200 spent on the tickets.

Because she canceled the Tel Aviv concert, Fine said Lorde essentially joined the B.D.S. Movement and should therefore be shunned by Florida companies.

Lorde is set to perform in Tampa's Amalie Arena, which is owned by the Tampa Sports Authority, on April 11, and at American Airlines Arena in Miami on April 12.

That's a terrific peg for someone pushing legislation that would prohibit governments from doing business with entities that are protesting Israel. Instant messaging.

"Florida has no tolerance for anti-Semitism and boycotts intended to destroy the State of Israel," said Fine. "That's why Florida passed groundbreaking anti-BDS legislation several years ago and why,
along with Senator Jeff Brandes, I have proposed strengthening that legislation this year. Current statutes are clear – local governments cannot do business with companies that participate in anti-Semitic
boycotts of Israel. When Lorde joined the boycott in December, she and her companies became subject to that statute. The taxpayers of Miami and Tampa should not have to facilitate bigotry and anti-Semitism,
and I look forward to the Miami Sports and Exhibition Authority and the Tampa Sports Authority complying with the law and cancelling these concerts."

So, here's your blog post on the whole matter.

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