Florida Governor Ron DeSantis got into an argument with a New Hampshire voter during a campaign stop in Little on Thursday about the war between Israel and Palestine.
The exchange culminated in the man, since identified as Arab-American ski shop owner Ron Lahout, telling the Republican presidential candidate, “You had my vote, but you don’t now.”
The back and forth began after DeSantis blamed Palestinians for aligning with Hamas.
Littleton, NH – While chatting w/voters, DeSantis has a back & forth on Israel’s airstrikes in Gaza and its borders.
“Why aren’t these Arab countries willing to absorbe some of the Palestinian Arabs?” DeSantis said
The man walked out saying, “You had my vote, but you don’t now” pic.twitter.com/L0tayIEuyU
— aaron navarro (@aaronlarnavarro) October 12, 2023
There has not been a vote in Gaza since 2006 and the median age is just 19 years old.
“Well, Ron, what do you think about the annihilation and the decapitation of all the Palestinians in Gaza? Right now,” Lahout asked the governor, citing entire blocks of Gaza being leveled by Israel. He also noted that he has worked in the Gaza Strip and in Palestinian refugee camps in the past.
DeSantis fired back by saying, “Israel is “not decapitating baby’s heads, they are not intentionally doing that.”
“They are blowing up entire residential buildings,” Lahout pointed out.
DeSantis replied, “Israel put in a warning. We’re going to go in this area. Civilians leave. Hamas tells them not to leave. Hamas wants them to be human shields. That’s their tactic, technique and procedure. How many other armed forces give give warnings to get out before they go? I think it’s Israel probably the only one in the world that does that.”
Though they were warned, most Palestinians had not been able to leave the area as there was no civilian corridor to do so. Nearly one fourth of the over two million people who live in Gaza had been displaced as of Thursday.
“I don’t condone the killing of any innocent civilians and I don’t condone what Hamas is,” Lahout replied. “But Israel is doing the exact same thing with Benjamin Netanyahu, who is a radical right wing crazy person. And I see hundreds of Palestinian families that are dead and they have nowhere to go because they can’t leave Gaza. Because no one’s opening their borders.”
DeSantis shifted his argument to ask, “Well, that’s the thing. You bring up a good point, though. You bring up a really good point. Why aren’t these Arab countries willing to absorb some of the Palestinian Arabs? They will not do it… Saudi will not do it. None of them will do it.”
The conversation concluded with Lahout asserting that DeSantis had lost his vote.
The Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) ordered everyone in Gaza to evacuate on Thursday, but the United Nations have said that an evacuation of that magnitude, in that time frame, is “impossible.”
The United States also weighed in on the evacuation order on Friday, with National Security Council coordinator for strategic communications John Kirby saying that they are “concerned” about civilian losses.
“There was no prior consultation that I’m aware of before the IDF (Israel Defense Forces) issued that evacuation warning,” Kirby said. “We want to make sure that those who want to leave have the ability to leave. And so we are working very aggressively with the Israelis and the Egyptians to try to find a safe passage out of southern Gaza. And we also want to preserve the ability to get humanitarian assistance in.”
Kirby has said that the US is talking to Israel “about issues regarding the law of armed conflict and respect for human life.”
“That’s a conversation we have had and will continue to have with them,” he added.