Florida Governor Ron DeSantis Builds Ties with Israel, Stakes Out Presidential Ambitions

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis recently visited Israel as part of his four-country tour, which includes stops in Japan, South Korea, and the United Kingdom.[0] The visit was officially billed as an attempt to build economic relationships, but many see it as a way for DeSantis to position himself as a potential presidential candidate. During his visit, DeSantis emphasized the importance of the US-Israeli relationship and put forward an Israel policy that was in line with that of the former Trump administration, particularly with respect to Jerusalem.[1]

DeSantis underscored the importance of supporting Israel’s right to defend itself and maintaining its qualitative military superiority with systems such as the Iron Dome.[1] He also expressed support for the former Trump administration’s stance on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which got “that right,” according to DeSantis.[2] He emphasized that the US embassy would always remain in Jerusalem, no matter the political winds of change, and that Washington must defend Israel against disfavored treatment by the United Nations and other international bodies.[3]

DeSantis also commended UK business secretary Kemi Badenoch for her efforts to combat what he calls “the woke.”[4] He believes that woke ideology undermines merit and achievement and corrupts institutions when it infiltrates them.[4] He met with Badenoch during his visit to the UK and revealed that she committed to following Florida’s lead in the UK.[4]

DeSantis’s visit to Israel was not his first, and he has received support from some of the Republican Party’s staunchest pro-Israel donors, including Miriam Adelson and her husband, casino magnate Sheldon Adelson. In 2018, the Adelsons supported DeSantis’ bid for governor and donated a minimum of $500,000 to the Friends of Ron DeSantis PAC.

While DeSantis’s polling numbers against former President Donald Trump may be lower, he has attracted support among a number of establishment Republicans who see him as a less chaotic figure than the ex-president.[5] The first primary elections are many months away, and US presidential politics is notoriously unpredictable, making it difficult to determine who will ultimately secure the Republican nomination.[6]

0. “DeSantis Suggests He Personally Prayed a Hurricane Away From Florida” Yahoo Life, 28 Apr. 2023, https://www.yahoo.com/lifestyle/desantis-suggests-personally-prayed-hurricane-231433372.html

1. “In Jerusalem, DeSantis teases presidential announcement” Jewish Insider, 27 Apr. 2023, https://jewishinsider.com/2023/04/ron-desantis-israel-jerusalem-museum-of-tolerance-iran-florida

2. “In Israel, DeSantis reveals that his foreign policy mirrors Trump’s” The Washington Post, 28 Apr. 2023, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2023/04/28/desantis-trump-foreign-policy/

3. “Gov. DeSantis delivers remarks on importance of US-Israel alliance” CBS News, 27 Apr. 2023, https://www.cbsnews.com/miami/news/gov-desantis-delivers-remarks-on-importance-of-us-israel-alliance/

4. “Ron DeSantis’ claim about Kemi Badenoch’s ‘anti-woke’ mission” PinkNews, 30 Apr. 2023, https://www.thepinknews.com/2023/04/30/ron-desantis-kemi-badenoch-anti-woke-lgbtq

5. “Ron DeTedious: DeSantis underwhelms Britain’s business chiefs” POLITICO Europe, 29 Apr. 2023, https://www.politico.eu/article/ron-detedious-how-desantis-underwhelmed-britains-business-chiefs

6. “Ron DeSantis: I back Kemi Badenoch in her war on wokery” The Telegraph, 29 Apr. 2023, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/world-news/2023/04/29/ron-desantis-interview-kemi-badenoch-war-on-wokery/

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