TALLHASSEE – In one of the more surprising campaign promises of the 2024 election season, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis promised South Carolina voters that he’d ‘level’ the Bahamas in the event the island country fired rockets at Fort Lauderdale. The point was apparently intended to be an analogy to the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas in the Middle East.
“What are you supposed to do?” DeSantis said in a Muscadine, South Carolina this past weekend. “I thought to myself, like, if the Bahamas were firing rockets into Fort Lauderdale, like, we would not accept that for, like, one minute. I mean, we would just level it. We would never be willing to live like that as Americans.”
DeSantis’ comments are surprising given the United States’ historically smooth relationship with the Bahamas. The two countries began diplomatic relations after the Bahamas secured independence from the United Kingdom in 1973, and have never had a conflict in that span. Partnerships exist on maritime border security, and the United States provided medical relief resources to the Bahamas during the COVID-19 pandemic, per the U.S. Department of State.
In addition to the Bahamas analogy, DeSantis has also been critical of one of his primary opponents’ stance on the Israel-Hamas conflict. Former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley, currently pulling close to DeSantis in the polls, has advocated for separating Palestinian citizens from Hamas terrorists in the USA’s response to the crisis. DeSantis has accused her of wanting to accept Palestinian refugees into the United States with this stance, a characterization Haley has disputed.
Perhaps the most significant action by the United States government in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in recent years has been the decision by former President Donald Trump to recognize Jerusalem as the capitol of Israel, and to move the United States embassy there. The move was a decisive shift toward Israel’s side in the conflict, and further from Palestine’s.