A Florida GOP state lawmaker reportedly attacked a Facebook commenter who defended an event focusing on Israel and Palestine as a "Judenrat" earlier this month.
State Rep. Randy Fine, who is Jewish, used the term multiple times in the comments section of an April 4 Facebook post about an event organized by the Space Coast Progressive Alliance, according to a new report from the Orlando Sentinel.
Fine didn't respond to an interview request from the Sentinel. His office did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Hill.
In the post, Fine called the event, "Palestine/Israel: Opening up the Dialogue," an “anti-Semitic rally targeting Jews sponsored by a Democrat club.”
The post prompted pushback, with one Facebook commenter defending the event as "an open discussion" about the longstanding issues Israel and Palestine face, the Sentinel reported. The event featured a panel of speakers discussing Palestinian human rights.
“What a farce," Fine responded in the comments section.
“First, there is no ‘Palestine,’” Fine wrote. “Second, having a bunch of speakers who advocate for the destruction of Israel but promise that this one time they won't, is a joke.”
Alliance board member Paul Halpern, who is Jewish, slammed Fine's statement, commenting that "questioning the policies of the Israeli government is not anti-Semitic."
"Many people from various organizations wereinvited to speak and chose not to. Three of the five panelists were Jewish," Halpern said. "[By the way], YOU, Rep. Fine, were not there.”
Fine responded by questioning what congregation Halpern belonged to. He then added, "#JudenRatDontCount," according to screenshots from the Sentinel.
The term "Judenrat" has been utilized to refer to Jewish councils who collaborated with Nazis in concentration camps during the Holocaust.
Halpern said in the comments section that Fine's remark was the most "offensive thing ever said to me," and later added that he was reporting the lawmaker's statement as hate speech.
“I know that Judenrat liked to keep tabs on all the Jews in order to report back to the Nazis back in that time, but no one is making you continue that tradition today," Fine said in response, screenshots from the Sentinel show.
“Just because someone says they are a Jew doesn’t mean they are one. Those who support BDS aren’t Jews," Fine commented later, referring to the “Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions" movement, which calls for a boycott of Israeli businesses to demonstrate against the country's policies on Palestine.
Space Coast Progressive Alliance President Phil Stasik told the Sentinel that the organization was “investigating" how to respond, saying that Fine's comments were "clearly hate speech."