Gov. Phil Bryant is in Israel this week touting Mississippi’s technological partnerships with the country and meeting with Israeli officials, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Bryant, serving as head of a trade delegation, spoke with Netanyahu opn Thursday about the election of U.S. President-elect Donald Trump and shared interests of Mississippi and the Middle Eastern country, Bryant said in a Facebook post.
Yesterday, the governor toured Gaza Strip under the escort of the Israeli military. He also touted Mississippi’s technology at the International Advanced Technology Conference on Wednesday.
Shortly before his visit with Netanyahu, Bryant was interviewed by the Jerusalem Post. In the interview, Bryant, a Trump surrogate during the 2016 presidential election, said Trump will be a strong “military ally of Israel” and help “restore the Israeli-American relationship.”
When asked about Trump’s support and support from anti-Semitic or white supremacy groups, Bryant downplayed the subject, the newspaper reported.
“He has Jewish grandchildren. A Jewish daughter, and a Jewish son-in law. I can’t remember the last president that had children who were Jewish,” Bryant said.
The governor also told the paper that he led his first trade delegation to Israel in 2014 because he sensed President Barack Obama was not giving Israel the support it deserved.
“About three years ago we in Mississippi began to realize that the administration [of] President Obama, seemed to be very distant from Israel,” Bryant told the paper. “You did not have the closeness and support that we the U.S. formerly provided Israel; so that was one of the motivations that brought us here. We want you to know that Mississippi is supporting Israel in any way that it can.”
Bryant told the Post that showing support for Israel is important for many voters in the American South not only when looking at candidates for national office, but also those running for state positions. This is his third trip to Israel as head of a trade delegation in as many years.
“The people across the South, particularly those active in the church, come from a Judeo-Christian background, and begin to study about the Holy Land, this wonderful Land of Israel, from the earliest days,” he said in the interview. “Our mothers told us about the giant [Goliath] in the valley [of Eila] and King David. So we grew up realizing this is a very special place on earth.”