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National Jewish Group Condemns Hate Speech at Melbourne Council Meeting

A national Jewish advocacy group on Monday called out Melbourne Mayor Paul Alfrey on social media after video showed members of an anti-Jewish hate group speaking during a recent city council meeting.

StopAntisemitism, a “grassroots watchdog organization” dedicated to combating anti-Jewish hatred, according to the group’s website, made the post on X (formerly Twitter) after a clip of one of the men speaking during the public comment portion of the April 9 meeting circulated online.

The 43-second video shows a man, identified as a member of the Goyim Defense League — an antisemitic hate group — making anti-Jewish remarks and decrying countries that criminalize “question(ing) the Holocaust,” according to the video.

Alfrey did jump in and cut the speaker off but noted he also needs to ensure speakers have the right to address the council.

“The Jews are here, and they’re here to destroy us,” the speaker says.

“WHY WAS HE NOT EVICTED IMMEDIATELY,” the group’s post read, tagging the City of Melbourne’s official X account. The post called on supporters to contact Alfrey, demanding the man not be allowed inside city buildings.

Full video from the meeting showed Alfrey stopped the man off before he could finish. Council members denounced the remarks, calling them “offensive.”

“We’re done with you. We’re done with your hate speech,” Councilwoman Mimi Hanley said from the dais.

The man was the last of three speakers that made increasingly inflammatory antisemitic statements during public comment, largely directed at Jewish State Rep. Randy Fine (R-Melbourne Beach), video showed.

Alfrey told FLORIDA TODAY he allowed the men to speak before jumping in because “there is fine line between freedom of speech and hate speech,” he said.

“I’m in a position where sometimes you have to make very quick decisions, and it’s my job to ensure everybody gets their First Amendment right,” Alfrey said. “As an elected official, it’s my job to ensure that once you’ve reached that line, that’s when we take action.”

Alfrey said council members had no idea what the men were going to speak about in advance. He met with city staff and the city attorney Monday to review meeting policies and procedures “to see if anything needs tightening up,” he said, including the possibility of adding a “comment subject” line to speaker cards.

He said he reached out to StopAntisemitism by email Monday to discuss the incident but had not yet heard back.

“We stand with the Jewish community, and we stand against antisemitism,” Alfrey added.

Members of the Goyim Defense League have captured headlines for similar stunts at local council meetings across the nation in recent months, including Massachusetts and California. The group outed itself as being behind a spate of antisemitic flyers dropped in neighborhoods around South Brevard over the past few years.

https://www.floridatoday.com/story/news/2024/04/16/pro-jewish-group-calls-out-melbourne-mayor-after-hate-speech-at-meeting-florida/73332701007/