Monday, June 5, 2023
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In Israel, Fla. Gov. DeSantis says Disney’s Latest Lawfare Attack is Political

(Headline USA) Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Thursday shrugged off Disney’s lawsuit against him as politically motivated, and said it was time for the iconic company to stop enjoying favorable treatment in his state.

Disney sued DeSantis on Wednesday over the Republican’s appointment of a board of supervisors in its self-governed theme park district, alleging the governor waged a “targeted campaign of government retaliation” after the company opposed an anti-grooming law to prohibit the teaching of sexual topics for students in grades 3 and below.

“They’re upset because they’re having to live by the same rules as everybody else,” DeSantis said during a visit to Israel.

“They don’t want to pay the same taxes as everybody else and they want to be able to control things without proper oversight,” he continued. “The days of putting one company on a pedestal with no accountability are over in the state of Florida.”

The fight began last year after Disney, in the face of significant pressure, publicly opposed a state law that bans classroom lessons on sexual orientation and gender identity in early grades.

DeSantis then took over Disney World’s self-governing district and appointed a new board of supervisors to oversee municipal services in the sprawling theme parks. But before the new board came in, the company pushed though an 11th-hour agreement that stripped the new supervisors of much of their authority.

DeSantis and the Republican-led state legislature have since doubled down, threatening to withdraw even more of Disney’s autonomous privileges—with the governor even hinting that he might put a prison on the property.

The Disney lawsuit asks a federal judge to void the governor’s takeover of the theme park district, as well as the DeSantis oversight board’s actions, on the grounds that they were violations of the company’s free speech rights.

DeSantis was speaking on the third leg of an international trip meant to burnish his foreign policy credentials ahead of a potential campaign for the Republican presidential nomination as a key rival to former President Donald Trump.

In a speech to a conference at Jerusalem’s Museum of Tolerance, DeSantis spelled out his Middle East policy, speaking of the importance of the U.S.–Israel alliance.

He said Israel was the only authority that could protect freedom of worship for all in combustible Jerusalem and that the U.S. embassy was rightfully moved to the city by the Trump administration, despite opposition from Palestinians.

He repeated his opposition to the Obama-era deal that aimed to rein in Iran’s nuclear program, saying it empowered that country’s rulers rather than held them back. After taking over from former President Barack Obama, Trump revoked the U.S. agreement to it.

DeSantis also said the U.S. shouldn’t interfere in the way Israel chooses to be governed, a direct critique of President Joe Biden, who has voiced concerns about Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s plan to rein in the country’s power-grabbing judiciary.

DeSantis began his multi-country trip in Japan and then traveled to South Korea. After Israel, he was due to head to Britain.

Adapted from reporting by the Associated Press

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