Florida Democratic candidate under fire for Palestine support

Florida Democratic candidate under fire for Palestine support
Florida congressional candidate Omari Hardy is facing criticism for comments he made in support of Palestine and the BDS movement.
3 min read
27 October, 2021
The Democratic primary will take place on 2 November [Getty]

A Florida congressional candidate is facing a backlash for comments he made in support of the rights of Palestinians and his support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

Omari Hardy, who is standing as a candidate for the Democratic primary in the Broward-Palm Beach County 20th Congressional District, expressed his support on social media. 

"I understand that standing up for Palestinian rights comes at a political cost. I'm fine with that," the congressional candidate tweeted.

“I did not run for Congress to politicise people's human rights,” he added. 

Hardy's views have put him at odds with others in his party, in particular, some members of the Florida Democratic Party Jewish Caucus. 

The Caucus told The Sun Sentinel that it "opposes the election of Omari Hardy because of his positions on (..) fundamental issues".

Rabbi Alan Sherman, a former president of the Palm Beach County Board of Rabbis, went even further, writing an op-ed for the newspaper describing Hardy as the "Hitler of South Florida".

The fundamental issues include Hardy's support for the BDS movement and his opposition to the US funding of Israel's Iron Dome missile system. 

"I cannot decry gentrification on Sistrunk (Boulevard in Fort Lauderdale) and keep my mouth closed about settlements. I can't talk about (the water crisis in) Flint, Michigan, and keep my mouth closed about the fact that many Palestinians don’t have access to clean water," Hardy told the Jewish Democratic Council of America, at a candidate forum. 

While the other Democratic candidate sought to distance themselves from Hardy, and a group of Jewish Democrats publicly declared that he should not be chosen, the congressional hopeful has remained steadfast in his views. 

"I don't have to worry about what people will think about this position, because I've already taken it. I've already made it known and the sky hasn't fallen. And win or lose I’ll be all right. My conscience will be clear," he told Jewish Currents.

"And I can proceed either as a member of Congress or as a private citizen, knowing that I campaigned on right, and not on fear," he added. 

While his fellow party members made their opposition to Hardy's comments clear, online, supporters praised his message of solidarity and his convictions. 

"Thank you for your principled stance, we understand that sometimes doing the right thing has it’s [sic] repercussions," one commenter wrote.

"Couldn't agree more. Florida needs this kind of energy so desperately," wrote another. 

The Democratic primary will be held on 2 November, with the winner replacing Democratic Rep. Alcee Hasting, who was a vocal supporter of Israel.