Florida Governor:
'Israel our closest ally, most successful state in the region'

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis discusses with Arutz Sheva benefits of Israel-Florida ties, fight against anti-Semitism, and US-Israel bond.

Yoni Kempinski ,

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis
Yoni Kempinski

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis spoke to Arutz Sheva about relations between Israel and the State of Florida.

"We obviously have been fortunate to have Israeli companies invest and be in Florida, and they're gonna expand, and we're trying to bring more, because we realize the amount of innovation that's going on in Israel. By being in Florida they're in a good economic climate where they can reach a big market with their products. So we think it's a good relationship," DeSantis said.

"We also have really unprecedented academic collaborations, research between our state universities and a whole slew of Israeli universities," he added. "And so you're seeing cooperation, not just in economy and academia, health care."

Governor DeSantis said that his delegation had achieved great benefits for Florida during his current visit to Israel.

"We just had a big round-table with some Israeli officials on school safety, which is a big issue in Florida. We've really hit on a lot of things. I've got people from the Cabinet coming up to me - who are on the delegation- and saying 'we've done so much.' And that's what we wanted," he said.

When asked about the political turmoil in Israel this week in which Prime Minister Netanyahu was forced to call for new elections after the deadline for forming a coalition passed, DeSantis said that he was "glad I'm in American politics and not Israeli politics. It's pretty crazy around here."

When asked about the goal he set to combat anti-Semitism, Governor DeSantis said that "the [Florida] state legislature deserves a lot of credit. They passed a big anti-Semitism bill unanimously this legislative session. I signed it on this trip, which I think was very symbolic."

"We are seeing anti-Semitism on the rise in the United States. I still think it's fringe. It's not as mainstream as it is in Europe. But it's a problem. And so we've addressed it with the anti-Semitism bill We also got record funding for security for Jewish day schools."

The governor praised the Trump Administration's pro-Israel actions, such as the relocation of the US embassy to Jerusalem.

"I was fortunate enough to be here when the embassy opened, which was historic. And then coming back now, we had a cabinet meeting in the old consulate building which is now one of the embassy buildings yesterday, which is historic.

"I believe the move should have happened. Everyone said that it would be the end of the world if it happened, it hasn't been the end of the world."

He praised Israel as one of America's closest allies.

"We look around the region: we don't have that many allies. Israel is a very strong ally. When I was in Congress we tried to cultivate a good relationship with Egypt, Jordan, some of the other pro-American governments. That's great, but if you look, where are you going to go?" he asked.

"Syria is not exactly friendly territory. Lebanon is controlled by Hezbollah. You start getting into the Gulf: obviously Saudi is Saudi. There's gonna be problems no matter what you do there.

"I think Israel is the one democratic state in the region, and I think it's been the most successful country in the region because of its values," he said.

Florida businessman Joe Zevulunz, who joined the delegation from Florida, told Arutz Sheva that Governor DeSantis' visit is "unprecedented" and "historic."

"What's happening these days with the anti-Semitism that's spreading throughout the world: no leader took such a stand like our Governor, Ron DeSantis. Ron DeSantis stood up to anti-Semitism. He stands up to those bigots and he calls them what they are, anti-Semites," Zevulunz said.