What can be done about Florida’s steep rise in antisemitism? | Editorial
Also among this week’s highs and lows: More property insurance problems and Tampa International Airport sets a record.
The Florida Holocaust Museum condemned flags with swastikas waved outside a Turning Point USA summit held at the Tampa Convention Center last summer.
The Florida Holocaust Museum condemned flags with swastikas waved outside a Turning Point USA summit held at the Tampa Convention Center last summer. [ Photo Courtesy of Florida Holocaust Museum ]
This article represents the opinion of the Tampa Bay Times Editorial Board.
Published April 1

Florida’s rising antisemitism. Flyers with antisemitic messages were littered across Tampa Bay last year, polluting neighborhoods from St. Petersburg to Tampa’s Hyde Park and Davis Islands. In July, neo-fascists waved flags with swastikas outside a political conference in Tampa. Antisemitism has existed for millennia, but documented incidents of hate toward Jewish people are on the rise in Florida. And 2022 was another record year. The surge last year produced the highest annual number of antisemitic incidents ever recorded in Florida and nationwide in the Anti-Defamation League’s annual Audit of Antisemitic Incidents, a survey the group has compiled since 1979. And the outbreak was worse in Florida than in the U.S. overall, the third year in a row that the state’s increase in antisemitic incidents outpaced the national increase. What is going in Florida, and what are state leaders doing to make the situation better — or worse? This is a terrible snapshot of the Sunshine State, and it underscores the lengths we need to go to improve our society.

Patronis whiffs again. If you need another example of how Florida has betrayed its residents on property insurance, look (again) at the people in charge, the state’s Department of Financial Services. Florida’s insurance consumer helpline is often the first resort for homeowners looking for help battling their insurance company. Problem is, as the Times’ reported this week, the helpline is open only three hours a day, from 9 a.m. to noon, Monday to Friday. In a move that makes sense only to bureaucrats, the regular workday hours were cut as a result of a surge of complaints and staffing shortages. Lawmakers are open to providing more money, which hopefully will spur the agency’s elected boss, state CFO Jimmy Patronis, to add the call center to his top legislative priorities, which include banning TikTok, fighting the IRS and cracking down on the theft of catalytic converters.

TIA’s continued climb. Tampa International Airport continues to serve as a key gateway for the region. Earlier this month, the airport saw its single heaviest day of passenger traffic, the Times reported this week, as officials met their high expectations of a record-setting spring break. More than 90,000 passengers passed through on Sunday, March 19, according to Transportation Safety Administration data, compared to 60,000-65,000 passengers on a normal day. Five of the busiest 10 passenger days on record have occurred in recent weeks; the second-busiest day ever was March 11, with about 89,000 passengers, followed by 88,000 passengers on March 18. Prior to this month, the previous record travel day was March 20, 2022, with 86,000 passengers. These huge numbers, and the sustained, heavy volume at TIA, speak to a world-class airport and the region’s rising profile. The two, if it needs saying, are inextricably linked.

Shortest speech ever. And finally, his office confirmed this week that Gov. Ron DeSantis will travel to Israel to deliver a keynote address at Jerusalem’s Museum of Tolerance. Sure, it’s April Fool’s Day, but we didn’t make this up.

Editorials are the institutional voice of the Tampa Bay Times. The members of the Editorial Board are Editor of Editorials Graham Brink, Sherri Day, Sebastian Dortch, John Hill, Jim Verhulst and Chairman and CEO Conan Gallaty. Follow @TBTimes_Opinion on Twitter for more opinion news.