Gov. Greitens returns from trade mission to Israel

By Eric Berger, Staff Writer

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last week in Israel and discussed economic opportunities and the “threats facing the state of Israel,” according to a statement from the governor’s office.

The governor also announced that the state had reached a memorandum of understanding with HackerUSA, an Israeli firm, to provide cyber-security training to Missouri colleges and universities.

The document states that Missouri Department of Higher Education will promote the company’s training services to the state’s public schools. However, it does not stipulate which schools and says that any decisions on contracts will be left to the schools’ governing boards.

On the trade mission sponsored by the Republican Jewish Coalition and the Hawthorn Foundation, Greitens also met with Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein, former Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Michael Oren, Minister of Public Safety Gilad Erdan and Minister of Defense Avigdor Lieberman, according to a news release.

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Greitens, who is Jewish, also visited the Western Wall to pray and place “prayers from Missourians around the state in the wall.”

Greitens said in a statement that when Missouri was reeling from ice storms earlier this year, “[R]abbis came to the Western Wall in Jerusalem — the holiest site in Judaism — to say prayers of safety for Missourians. It was a remarkable and gracious gesture.”

In addition to meetings with leaders, Greitens visited the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem, Gaza, the Golan Heights and saw the Iron Dome missile defense system, according to the governor’s office.

After visiting with members of the Israel Defense Forces, Greitens stated that, “Americans and Israelis in the military have something in common. They kill terrorists—and they’re good at it.”

He said he and Israeli military leaders had discussed training partnerships between “their first responders and Missouri’s fire departments, police, National Guard, and cyber-security teams. This will strengthen Missouri, and also say clearly: In the face of terrorism, Missouri stands with Israel.”

Matthew Brooks, executive director of the Republican Jewish Coalition, accompanied Greitens on the trip and told the Jewish Insider that it was a “really important trip.” 

Greitens “not only is the only Jewish governor in the country, but also …is a real serious and real rising star,” he said. The trip will be helpful to Greitens in his effort to oppose the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel and “to be a vocal supporter for the Jewish community.”

Greitens, who had visited Israel before becoming governor, returned to Missouri on Sunday. On Tuesday, he was scheduled to travel to Austin, Texas for the Republican Governors Association’s annual conference, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.

 Former Gov. Jay Nixon, a Democrat, visited Israel four times during his eight years in office.