(JTA) — A Jewish Florida state representative called one of his constituents a “Judenrat” on Facebook. The constituent, also Jewish, says the lawmaker should apologize for describing him with a term that refers to Jews who collaborated with the Nazis during the Holocaust.
Randy Fine, a Republican who represents a county in the central part of the state, used the term twice in Facebook comments responding to a post by Paul Halpern on April 4. Halpern, 68, of Palm Bay, had defended a public event called “Palestine/Israel, Opening the Dialogue” to discuss the Israeli-Palestinian situation.
Fine called the discussion a “farce” and said “there is no ‘Palestine.’” He also wrote that the event would be “an anti-Semitic rally targeting Jews sponsored by a Democrat club.”
In comments directed at Halpern, Fine wrote: “#JudenRatDontCount” and “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.”
Halpern told the Orlando Sentinel of the Judenrat comment: “That’s the worst thing anyone can say to me. I’m someone who’s been a victim of anti-Semitism much of my life, and there’s no worse name you can call a Jewish person than ‘Judenrat.’ It tells me about the character of the person who said it, especially since he doesn’t know me.”
On Thursday, the Florida House of Representatives unanimously passed legislation proposed by Fine that would prohibit anti-Semitism in the state’s public schools and universities.