Gov. Ron DeSantis and members of the Florida delegation visiting Israel this week paid a stop at Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Center. The center is Israel’s official memorial to the victims of the Holocaust. DeSantis took part in a wreath laying ceremony in the Hall of Remembrance to honor the memory of the Jewish people who perished during the Holocaust.
DeSantis also took time from his schedule to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who failed to form a new governing coalition on Wednesday. It was a setback for Netanyahu who must now face a second election just seven weeks after the Israeli leader’s Likud party appeared ready to command a majority in parliament and elect Netanyahu to his fifth term as prime minister.
DeSantis left the meeting with words of support for Netanyahu, but pledging to work with whomever the next prime minister might be.
“I’ll work with whoever is here,” DeSantis said. “I think from the perspective of Israel, they need allies. The U.S. is a good ally. Obviously. Florida, we have a strong relationship.”
Earlier in the day the governor paid a visit to the Western Wall where he placed two prayer notes.
“I actually did two notes,” DeSantis said. “The one from me was to spare Florida of hurricanes. After having them for a couple of years, we could use a breather.”
“And then (Florida Emergency Management Director) Jared Moskowitz gave me a note written by a young girl in the Panhandle who lost her home and she provided and asked that I put it in the wall. I didn’t read her note but I did put it in the wall. So, that was pretty neat.”
Overall, DeSantis declared this week’s visit to Israel a success.
“I think it’s been real successful,” DeSantis said. “(We signed) an historic number of MOU’s (Memorandum Of Understanding).”
The latest MOU formalized a trauma medicine education and training partnership between the University of Miami (UM), Jackson Memorial Hospital, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Shaare Zedek Medical Center.
“This is the first of its kind affiliation where both academic institutions and their respective safety net teaching hospitals are signing an agreement for collaboration to train, educate and optimize healthcare delivery in their respective communities,” said Dr. Enrique Ginzburg of UM?
The state, along with businesses, organizations and universities entered into a series of MOU’s throughout the week creating working relationships between Florida and Israel. DeSantis said the MOU’s regarding educational institutions are of special significance.
“We are doing a lot of business development, which is important,” He said. “But we’re also looking forward to these education ties, because I think that could be the seeds of some important ideas in ways that could benefit our state.”
DeSantis defended the week-long trade mission when a reporter asked him how he would defend the trip to those who saw it as a travel junket.
“We’ve been doing a lot,” DeSantis said. “I’m not actually a travel guy. I’d rather be home. I wanted to do this in three full days. I pleaded with my staff. We just couldn’t get it done in three days.”
“It’s been very productive,” DeSantis added. “I think the relationship is going to continue to foster.
“I think my job as governor is to have those flowers continue to bloom and I think there are good things instore for us because of the relationship.”