Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey visits the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron, on May 30, 2022. Photo by Dudu Koren.

by Josh Hasten

(JNS) — Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey is in Israel this week on a five-day trade mission with a delegation from Arizona focused on business development, water technology and border security. The delegation includes Danny Seiden, the head of Arizona’s Chamber of Commerce, and Sandra Watson, the president and CEO of the Arizona Commerce Authority.

While the trip is geared toward increasing trade and investment between Israel and Arizona, the governor also had the opportunity to visit some key religious, historical and cultural sites, including the Western Wall, the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron, Menachem Begin Heritage Center, and City of David excavations. Ducey’s visit to the burial site of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Sarah, Rebecca and Leah in Hebron followed recent visits to Judaism’s second holiest site by Former Vice President Mike Pence and former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

During his stop in Hebron, Ducey told JNS, “It’s great to be back in Israel.” Arizona, he said, has a “wonderful” relationship with the Jewish state. “In the first year of my administration [2015] we came here and learned a lot about water and border security, about building a start-up state, and we have tried to apply that to Arizona. So this is an economic mission that we are on. We are in search of solutions to future water issues and Israel is always cutting-edge.”

In addition, Arizona is reportedly the only U.S. state to have a full-time, dedicated Trade and Investment Office in Israel, which was established in 2019 under Ducey’s leadership and is led by Tel Aviv-based American-Israeli entrepreneur David Yaari. Arizona has a growing tech scene, with many Israeli companies choosing to establish bases in the Grand Canyon state as opposed to elsewhere on the West Coast.

With an arid climate much like that of Israel, the governor is particularly interested in Israeli agri-tech, with an eye toward reproducing Israel’s work in the fields of water preservation and desalination.

The governor also led a U.S. Memorial Day Ceremony at Israel’s 9/11 Living Memorial Plaza, the only monument outside of the United States that bears all the names of those killed during the September 11 attacks. The ceremony was attended by U.S. Ambassador to Israel Thomas Nides, U.S. Military Attaché to Israel Brig. Gen. Shawn Harris and Consul General of Israel to the Pacific Southwest Hillel Newman.

“To be in Israel on Memorial Day at the only memorial in the world [outside the U.S.] with all the names of everyone who perished that day listed, it certainly feels like Memorial Day here,” said Ducey.

“To be among our greatest allies, and all the support they show for our nation is something really special. [Israel] is one of the nations that represents light in the world, alongside the United States,” he added.

Ducey was in Jerusalem on May 29 as Israel celebrated Jerusalem Day. He tweeted: “Proud to be in Israel on Jerusalem Day marking the 55th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem during the Six-Day War in 1967. Jerusalem is the eternal and indivisible capital of Israel.”

He added: “It was very special to be here on Jerusalem Day. There was a real energy, patriotism and spirit, especially among the young people.”

Consul General Newman, who was a key facilitator of Ducey’s visit, told JNS, “The Consulate General of Israel in Los Angeles was delighted to work with the governor and his team on realizing this visit of the governor, the third visit by the governor in Israel.”

Ducey, added Newman, “is one of the greatest friends of the State of Israel and the people of Israel, as demonstrated by his many actions. Among them are his opening of an office of trade in Israel, divesting from Ben & Jerry’s, his many statements of support and his solidarity with Jerusalem Day.”

In addition, under Ducey’s tenure, Arizona has adopted the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism and has mandated Holocaust education in the state’s schools for students from grades seven through 12.

During his time in the Jewish state, Ducey also met with Israeli President Isaac Herzog, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, and former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. He was also recognized as a “Defender of Israel”  by the Menachem Begin Heritage Center.