Florida governor Ron DeSantis wrapped up a week-long trade mission to Israel last week that worked to solidify Florida-Israel relations.
DeSantis arrived Sunday with a delegation of close to 100 business people, academics, and government representatives for a visit that included trade meetings, signed agreements, and a sit-down at the US Embassy in Jerusalem.
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The week began on Monday when DeSantis signed eight Memoranda of Understanding between Florida institutions of higher learning and Tel Aviv University (TAU). He also announced two research collaborations between TAU and Florida International University, and one each between TAU and Florida Atlantic University, University of Central Florida, Miami Dade College, Florida Institute of Technology, St. Leo University and Florida Gulf Coast University. The subjects of the collaborations will include emergency management and disaster relief, neuroscience, and blockchain technology.
TAU President Professor Polat presented DeSantis with a friendship award from the University “in recognition of [DeSantis’] continued friendship with the State of Israel and his efforts to forge deeper ties between Tel Aviv University and Florida institutions of higher education.”
On Wednesday, DeSantis met with his independently elected cabinet in Jerusalem, amid allegations that the meeting violated open-government laws as it was held out of state. Attorney General Ashley Moody, Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis, and Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried make up DeSantis’ cabinet. Together, the cabinet presented a proclamation of support for Israel.
DeSantis then signed a bill prohibiting anti-Semitic remarks in Floridian public schools, forbidding comments that draw “comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis,” blame “Israel for all inter-religious or political tensions,” and require “behavior of Israel that is not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation.”
On Thursday, DeSantis met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a day after the coalition talks led by Israeli premier collapsed, setting Israel on a course to a second round of national elections in September.
DeSantis concluded his trip with a visit to the Western Wall, leaving behind a prayer wishing for a peaceful Hurricane season.