Jerusalem – Besides the lone star that sits boldly on both of their flags, Texas and Israel have much in common, and a sturdy relationship that should continue to grow, according to Texas Governor Rick Perry, who is in the country on a visit aimed at strengthening economic ties between the Jewish State and his own.
“I come from a pro-business, pro-prosperity point of view,” Gov. Perry told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday, “And the first goal of this trip was to further some of the economic development that already exists between Texas and Israel, and to recruit some of the Israeli businesses we visited here to expand and come to Texas.”
Perry also recalled the Texas-Israel Exchange – a body that supports the trade of agricultural know-how between Texan and Israeli scientists – which he established in 1991, while serving as the Texas Agriculture Commissioner.
“We have a connection that goes back many years,” he said. “And Israel has a lot that we can learn from, especially in the areas of water conservation and semi-arid land – Israeli technology has helped us a lot in dealing with drought.”
“But also,” the governor continued, “when I was here for the first time some 18 years ago and I was touring the country, the comparison between Masada and the Alamo was not lost on me. I mean, we’re talking about two groups of people who were willing to give up their lives for freedom and liberty.” Beyond the comparisons, Gov. Perry said another point of his trip here was to show other people “what was really going on”, with regards to the military threats facing the country, and in particular the IDF’s recent Operation Cast Lead in the Gaza Strip.
“We went to the border with Gaza and received a briefing from the army there, and we went to Sderot and saw the police station with all the Kassam rockets piled up, we saw playgrounds that had to be covered from rocket fire. It’s a powerful place.” In that vein, the governor said he was also interested in learning more about security aspects while in the country, as Texas has a large, porous border with Mexico, and the recent violence in that country had unnerved many Texans.
“Israel is a leader in security technology, and another reason for our visit to the Gaza border was to see some of the security measures being used there,” said Perry.
“Kassam rockets have killed 28 Israelis over the last eight years. Well, 1,000 people have been killed in Juarez [Mexico, on the border with El Paso , Texas] since the beginning of the year [in drug-related violence]. So we’re trying to find ways to secure that border, because just like it’s important to Israelis to keep heavy security on their border with Gaza, it’s important to citizens of Texas to keep out the illegal activities that are going on with drugs [in Mexico].
Gov. Perry went on to describe his support for Israel from a religious point of view, saying, “I’m a big believer that this country was given to the people of Israel a long time ago, by God, and that’s ordained.”
The Obama administration’s pressure on the Israeli government unnerved the governor, saying he felt that, “Israel does all the giving and the other side does not reciprocate.”
“What I don’t understand, is this administration’s hesitancy to recognize the sovereignty of Israel,” he said.
And while he said he was bringing back a message for Texans to “strengthen their support for Israel and keep Israel in their prayers”, the governor also said he believed that economics, at the end of the day, would prove to be the watershed that brings peace and prosperity in the region.
“I was in the Old City today, and I saw these young Arab men selling Israeli products,” he said. “And I think it goes to show that they are going to be less likely to harm Israel, when they’re prospering from Israel.” That said, the governor also made it clear that Texas would be a happy home for Israeli businesses looking to expand, and vise versa.
“And I want more Israeli companies doing business in Texas,” he said. “And more Texan companies doing business in Israel.”