Florida Governor to Head Trade Mission to Israel in First Trip Abroad

Florida’s governor, Ron DeSantis, announced Tuesday a high-profile trade mission to Israel in May in what will be his first international trip since taking office.

“Our delegation will bring business, academic and political leaders to help strengthen the bond between Florida and Israel,” DeSantis said during an appearance in Plantation. The lawmaker was meeting with members of South Florida’s Jewish community at the Temple Kol Ami Emanu-El synagogue to discuss details of his first foreign trip as governor.

The aim of the six-day visit, scheduled from May 25 through May 31, is to foster economic and other cooperation between Florida and Israel, where DeSantis and his cabinet plan to convene at the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem. The governor will also be the keynote speaker at the 2019 Israel-American business summit, hosted by the Federation of Israeli Chambers of Commerce and the U.S. Embassy.

“Thank you, Governor DeSantis for making this trade mission a high priority for Florida,” said Jamal Sowell, President and CEO of Enterprise Florida, who is helping to host the delegation. “Enterprise Florida looks forward to hosting this historic trade mission and expanding international trade opportunities with Israel.”

DeSantis has long been an outspoken supporter of Israel. During his time as a member of the influential House Foreign Affairs Committee, DeSantis visited Israel during the embassy inauguration last year.

“When people say that people like me who are in office support Israel because of ‘the Benjamins,’ they just don’t know what they’re talking about,” he said in reference to Rep. Ilhan Omar’s controversial dual-loyalty remarks. “It’s about shared values and that’s why we have such a strong relationship.”

DeSantis previously slammed both the anti-Semitic Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement and Airbnb’s discriminatory policy against Jewish listings in the West Bank, which the company reversed on Tuesday.

“I am encouraged to hear that @Airbnb will not move forward with its policy that would eliminate the listings of Israeli properties. Florida will never support companies that discriminate against Israel,” tweeted DeSantis.

[Photo: Gage Skidmore / Flickr]