I believe strongly in the unique relationship between the United States and Israel, a relationship that should always transcend partisan politics because of our shared values, friendship, and commitment to democracy.
In my role as Mayor of Tallahassee and previously as a City Commissioner, I have been proud of our connection with our sister city of eleven years, Ramat HaSharon. I was lucky enough to visit Israel in 2007 as part of a City of Tallahassee Sister City exchange trip with other Tallahassee City Commission members to demonstrate our commitment to the strong ties between our respective cities and countries and to promote educational, cultural, and commercial exchange.
In particular, an area for growth between Israel and Florida is increasing our exchanges with Israel’s world-renowned technology and innovation sectors. This mutually beneficial relationship would boost Florida’s economy while demonstrating our commitment to Israel’s economic development. Through our Sister City partnership, I have seen firsthand the critical importance of these exchanges, and I would greatly expand them as Governor.
America’s commitment to Israel’s security must remain steadfast and a cornerstone of our Middle East policy. For the security of Israel as well as our own nation, I applaud the unprecedented levels of military cooperation between our countries during the previous administration including our 10-year $38 billion military aid package – the largest ever given to any country. This funding will, for example, continue to save Israeli civilians from rocket attacks through the Iron Dome missile defense system. I believe a two-state solution will further the important and difficult work of building peace in the region, while ensuring Israel maintains its Jewish and democratic character with internationally recognized and secure borders.
I will continue to support anti-Boycott, Divest and Sanctions [BDS] legislation passed last year with overwhelming support in both houses of the legislature. The legislation prevents Florida from investing in or doing business with companies participating in boycotts of Israel. As Governor, I will continue to push back against anti-Israel efforts, like BDS, that question Israel’s existence as a Jewish state, and will support bipartisan measures that help deter such practices. Only a separate state, brought about through direct, legitimate negotiations between the Palestinians and Israel, can vest in the Palestinians the aspirations they rightfully seek to achieve.
With respect to Iran, I fully support the Iran divestment legislation passed by the Florida legislature in 2007, the first state in the country to divest its pension funds with companies doing business with Iran’s energy sector.