Texas Governor Greg Abbott, a Republican, discussed what he saw as the similarities between Texas and Israel during his keynote speech as the Israeli American Council (IAC) National Summit at Austin, TX.
Speaking at the Fairmont Hotel on January 20, Abbott touted the “strong and enduring bond between the people of Texas and the people of Israel,” as both Texas and Israel “share the blessings of liberty” and have also triumphed over conflict.
Abbott also argued that the rule of law in the United States, and Texas, is rooted in the 10 Commandments, which is why it’s displayed on their capitol. He recalled an atheist suing the state of Texas for displaying the 10 Commandments on the capitol ground while Abbott served as the state’s attorney general. “I said, ‘Not on my watch will I allow the 10 Commandments to be down,’” Abbott said. He proceeded to argue before the Supreme Court that it was constitutional to have the 10 Commandments displayed––and won.
The governor went onto discuss his trip to Israel that included a visit to the American Jerusalem, which has “a small piece of home from Texas,” including a small plaque from Texas that shows the “longstanding bond between our people.” Abbott also visited Yad Vashem and laid a wreath in the Hall of Remembrance.
Abbott then turned his attention to the Iran nuclear, which the Biden administration has been attempting to revive, proclaiming that the U.S. should not enter into alliances with countries that chant “Death to America!” and threaten Israel’s existence. “So long as Iran is a threat to Israel Iran is a threat to Texas,” he declared, adding that the Texas state government is banned from doing business with entities that conduct business with Iran.
He also touted the state’s law against the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, citing the fact that the state government was barred from doing business with Airbnb after the company delisted homes in Israeli settlements in the West Bank.
Another similarity between Texas and Israel that Abbott sees: entrepreneurship. Abbott hailed Tel Aviv’s “dynamic ecosystem” before touting his state’s economic record. “Our economy quite literally is America’s undisputed economic leader,” he said, claiming that Texas is the country’s leader in fuel and cotton, among other products and that Texas has repeatedly led the country in exports and job growth as a $2 trillion economy.
Abbott recounted the hostage crisis at a synagogue in Colleyville, TX in 2022, lauding the “swift action by law enforcement” to save the hostages, but acknowledged that the threat of antisemitism remains. Ergo, Abbott provided $10 million in security grants for houses of worship throughout the state.
“We have extraordinarily bright futures,” Abbott said of Texas and Israel, even though both face challenges when it comes to “preserving freedom” and securing their respective populaces from antisemitism. “We are accustomed to challenges and overcoming them,” he said.
Abbott then told attendees how he came to be in a wheelchair: While working as a lawyer in downtown Houston, Abbott was jogging one day when an oak tree fell on him, fracturing his vertebrae and spinal cord. Abbott joked that the attendees must be thinking, “How slow was that guy jogging to be hit by a fallen tree?” But after suffering the fracture, Abbott went on to become a judge and then the state’s attorney general and governor, which he said “epitomizes that Texas is the land of opportunity” and that “we are not defined by how we are challenged but how we respond to those challenges.”
“That is a defining characteristic of the Jewish people and it must be the trademark of our collective future going forward,” he concluded.
I actually don’t know what this means so want to make sure it’s correct.