Andrew Gillum: Good for Florida, good for Israel

Gillum opposes the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement against Israel and supports anti-BDS legislation.

DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATE Andrew Gillum speaks at an event in Flori (photo credit: REUTERS)
DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATE Andrew Gillum speaks at an event in Flori
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Floridians have many reasons to vote for Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum for governor, not the least of which is his strong support for Israel and for other priorities of Floridians and the Jewish community. Gillum’s affinity with Israel is based on first-hand experience. He has visited Israel three times. Ramat Hasharon and Tallahassee are sister cities, and it was through that program that Gillum first visited Israel in 2007 when he was a city commissioner.
This past Yom Kippur, Gillum said that while he was in Israel, he “saw first-hand how the threat of Katyusha rockets affected the everyday lives of Israelis – no one could deny that ensuring lasting safety and security for Israel is an unquestionable priority and that building peace is one of the great causes of our time.” Gillum also vowed to fight “the scourge of antisemitism.”
Gillum opposes the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement against Israel and supports anti-BDS legislation, including Florida Senate Bill 86, which would prevent Florida from investing in or doing business with companies that participate in the BDS movement.
Gillum also supports the record 10-year, $38-billion aid package to Israel that was negotiated by president Obama and recently signed into law. He supports a two-state solution and is committed to pushing back against anti-Israel efforts. He also supports and wants to increase Florida’s retirement system’s smart investment in Israel Bonds. Gillum has been clear that his support for Israel is unequivocal. 
Everyone in the pro-Israel community should welcome the friendship and support of a solid progressive like Andrew Gillum. Instead, Republicans are once again putting political party above principle and running their same tired playbook of guilt by association against Gillum in an effort to sway voters who are concerned about Israel.
GILLUM IS not afraid to work with others on matters of common concern, which sometimes means working with individuals and organizations with which he agrees on some issues but disagrees on others. That’s how positive change happens. For example, Gillum has associated with the Dream Defenders, not because of their positions on Israel, which he does not share, but because he was interested in their work on criminal justice reform, which is a very important issue in Florida.
If Republicans were really worried about progressive attitudes toward Israel, then they’d welcome a candidate like Andrew Gillum, who is staunchly pro-Israel and has influence and respect with and among progressive constituencies. In addition, the fact that Gillum can reach across ideological boundaries to find common ground is an asset of his candidacy.
On the other hand, Republicans have yet to disown Ron DeSantis, who has repeatedly associated with antisemitic activists such as Gavin McIness and Milo Yiannopoulos, and conspiracy theorists like Tony Ledbetter. We’ve heard nothing but crickets from DeSantis and the Republican Party about DeSantis’s refusal to repudiate and condemn these individuals and their hateful views.
I’ve personally known Gillum for many years. As a former congressman and stalwart supporter of the State of Israel, I have been involved in pro-Israel politics long enough to know who is sincere and who we can trust. Gillum and I have talked at length about his support for Israel and the local interests of the Jewish community. He understands the importance of Israel and the relationship between the Jewish state and the Sunshine State. I am convinced that we can count on Gillum to oppose BDS, oppose investment in Iran, and support investment in Israel Bonds.
But not only that. We can also count on Gillum to fight for the other values we hold dear, including gun safety, affordable health care, reproductive freedom and job creation. Indeed, as Gillum said just a few weeks ago, “For all of us – those in elected office, and those simply trying to make a difference in each other’s lives – let us all recommit ourselves to tikkun olam, a central tenet of the Jewish faith.... Let us work together, side-by-side, in the ever-important work of repairing this world for one another, for our children and all the generations to come after us.”
That’s a message that will resonate not only with Jewish voters, but with all Floridians who care about the future of our state.
The writer is a former congressman from Florida’s 22nd district and current chairman of the Jewish Democratic Council of America.