Gov. Ron DeSantis’ just concluded trip to Israel aimed at cementing ties between Florida and the Jewish state found a serious audience.
In contrast to the Florida media circus that demeaned and attempted to undermine the bolstering of scientific, agricultural, economic, and political cooperation, the Israeli press reported on substance, not manufactured peripheral issues.
The Israeli press talked about Florida’s no-tolerance policy for hate speech, cooperation on environmental and business issues, strengthening education ties, and the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanction (BDS) movement; the Sunshine State press corps, along with the First Amendment Foundation, concentrated on whether a Cabinet meeting, ceremonial in nature, met legal muster.
Israeli and Jewish-American media emphasized the goals and results of the mission with only passing mentions of the open meeting challenge.
Florida newspapers, which conveniently ignore or underreport untold Sunshine Law violations and unfulfilled public records requests, both locally and in Tallahassee, found two easy targets when DeSantis announced a high-profile delegation of politicians and businesspeople would visit Israel in a spirit of cooperation: Republicans and the state of Israel.
Florida media was so concerned with the public’s right to know, that it agreed to the assigning of a pool reporter to cover the landmark excursion to Israel. One reporter. The country’s third-largest state.
The meeting, at which no formal votes were taken, was live-streamed over The Florida Channel.
The Jerusalem Post reported on DeSantis giving the keynote address at the 2019 Israel-American Business Summit, hosted by the Federation of Israeli Chambers of Commerce and the U.S. Embassy
Meanwhile, the Brooklyn-based Jewish Voice informed readers about Secretary of Agriculture Nikki Fried’s efforts to improve the health of Floridians, tourism, and the citrus industry.
Florida’s first Jewish female Cabinet member met with Israeli experts on medical marijuana, irrigation, and treating algae blooms. She talked with researchers fighting citrus greening, a disease that has devastated orange groves in Florida.
Fried also visited a company that works in advanced hydroponics, met with Israel’s minister of agriculture and talked with cannabis growers.
JewishPress.com quoted DeSantis as asserting that “Israel has been unfairly targeted for discrimination and that BDS is DOA (Dead-on-arrival) in Florida.”
Israel’s Minister of Public Security and Strategic Affairs Gilad Erdan called DeSantis “one of the greatest and most consistent friends of Israel and of the U.S.-Israel alliance,” according to JewishPress. “Governor DeSantis promised that under his leadership, Florida would be the most pro-Israel state in America and he has kept his promise.”
The Times of Israel prominently reported on agreements signed between DeSantis and Israeli officials on issues like space technology, agriculture, protecting water and cybersecurity. For example, Florida Emergency Management Director Jared Moskowitz signed an agreement with Israeli officials which lays the groundwork for Israeli emergency officials to help Florida in the event the state has a major disaster.
The Forward, a Jewish-American magazine, noted DeSantis visited Ariel University, becoming the first sitting state governor to visit the West Bank. While there, he signed a Memorandum of Understanding between Ariel and Florida State University.
Israeli media network Arutz Sheva, in an exclusive interview with the Florida governor, quoted him on the success of the mission: “We 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.”
DeSantis traveled on the six-day trade mission with a 90-member delegation of elected officials, including state workers, businessmen and senior academics, including Florida Cabinet members Attorney General Ashley Moody, Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis and Fried.
Jim Bleyer, a former reporter at the Orlando Sentinel and Tampa Tribune, writes the Tampa Bay Beat blog.