Texas and Israel: 21st Century Strategic and Economic Alliance
by Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush
America has no better ally and no truer friend in the world than Israel.
I was reminded of this again first-hand a few days ago when I led a Texas
delegation to Israel.
While we were there, we met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who is a strong advocate for freedom and security in the Middle East. One of the major takeaways from my meeting with him was the importance of America’s continuing resolve in fighting terrorism. The Prime Minister confronts asymmetric threats everyday — whether it’s Hamas, Hezbollah or state-sponsored acts of violence.
He stressed that not only Israel, but the entire region — and the entire world for that matter — needs strong American leadership. Sadly, we haven’t
seen that lately. And the Obama administration’s nuclear deal with Iran advances the day when a state sponsor of terror becomes a nuclear power.
Israel deserves the support of our country. And it deserves the support of our state. Perhaps the reason that Texans, in particular, identify with Israel is because we have similar stories. Prime Minister Netanyahu compared the Battle of the Alamo to the Siege of Masada in 73 AD when Jewish rebels were heavily outnumbered by the Romans, and many paid the ultimate price.
And so today, the people of America must remain committed to the State of Israel. And so must the people of Texas.
It became clear in our conversation that another element of strong American leadership is economic partnership. The good news is that Israel — like Texas — is open for business.
During our meeting, the Prime Minister and I discussed several economic areas where Texas and Israel can work together.
One is technology. Texas is home to the Silicon Prairie. And in many ways, Israel is the Silicon Valley of the Middle East. We talked about the Israeli startup culture — in particular — two companies generated from that spirit that have already changed the way we drive in the 21st Century — Mobileye and Waze.
During our trip, we also met with IDE Technologies — the company behind the world’s largest desalination facility. IDE is examining a similar program in Texas to help cities, communities and industrial partners meet their water needs. In fact, the company has been so successful in its home country that Israel has gone from a net importer of water to a net exporter of this valuable resource in just twenty years. And now Israel is exploring offshore reserves of natural gas in partnership with a Houston-based company Noble Energy, potentially bringing Israel to energy independence in less than a generation. Another area where Texas and Israel can work together is further exploring this abundant resource and developing relevant infrastructure to deliver product to the marketplace.
After spending several days meeting with political and business leaders in Israel, this much is clear to me: the most important thing we can do for Israel is do business with Israel. And I am committed to helping foster a climate of trade, investment, and sharing of best practices. What I saw in Israel was a great spirit of entrepreneurship and innovation, like that of Texas. And I think that Texas is the perfect partner for Israeli business.
Above all, I want to do everything I can to bring Texans and Israelis closer together. We share common values, common ideals and, yes, common enemies.
Together, we can expand freedom, strengthen free markets, and continue to fight back against terrorism. The people of Israel have been tested for quite some time, however, their challenges have only created a stronger Israel. I saw that this week in the eyes of the Israeli people with whom I met.
They are not afraid to stand for freedom. And we must never be afraid to stand with them.
George P. Bush is the 27th Texas Land Commissioner.
Photos courtesy of Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs.