Who says American elected officials have to stay in America to do their jobs?

Twitter post by Florida TV reporter Troy Kinsey, one of several media people covering the Israel trip.

Why all the fuss about Gov. DeSantis, the Florida Cabinet, and 94 of his besties making a little pilgrimage to the Holy Land? When the Count of Toulouse set off for Jerusalem in 1096, he brought with him a dozen clerics, at least 40 nobles, and a few thousand French soldiers, plus his wife and kid.

So calm down, y’all: it’s not like the governor’s on a crusade or anything.

This is a “trade mission,” in which each side promises the other a bunch of money for things you don’t really need to know about right now.

The Israelis might be able to help with some of what the governor sees as Florida’s biggest problems–problems such as citrus greening, algae, school security, and how to convince adherents to a religion dedicated to social justice, decency and tolerance to forget all that nonsense and vote Republican.

This is also a nice little getaway with some of the people who generously help the governor and Legislature run Florida, by which I mean lobbyists.

Now before you get all how much is this costing the taxpayer, huh? remember that these selfless lobbyists for Florida Power and Light, Florida Realtors, JP Morgan Chase and the Hemp Industries Association are paying their own way.

Shoot, if you can buy an entire government, you can certainly afford a 5-star week in Israel.

Of course, Gov. DeSantis wants to hang with Prime Minister Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu. Talk about a stable genius! Ol’ Bibi’s likely to be indicted for breach of trust, corruption and bribery–granting regulatory favors to a media company in exchange for nicer coverage of him.

His wife Sara Netanyahu has been accused of illegally spending taxpayer money on personal luxuries. She’s also been sued by former employees for treating them like “slaves.”

His son Yair claims “Palestine” can’t exist because there’s no letter “P” in the Arabic alphabet, though unkind persons reminded Netanyau Jr. that there’s no letter “J” in Hebrew, so “Judea” and even “Jew” might not be entirely kosher.

Yet despite this Mount Sinai-sized pile of offensiveness and sleaze, Benjamin Netanyahu is not in jail.

Indeed, he’s still in charge of the country and thus must be such an inspiration to any red-blooded, lawyered-up Republican, especially the one in the White House.

Gov. DeSantis feels we Floridians can learn much from Israel, but only if we stop worrying about such trifling stuff as government in the sunshine. If you want to be picky, yes, Cabinet meetings are supposed to be open to the public. But this Cabinet meeting’s not actually doing anything: it’s “ceremonial.”

Lawyers and First Amendment scolds point out Cabinet meetings can’t really be “ceremonial.” And OK, it’s hard for them to be open to Florida citizens if the citizens have to get on at least two airplanes and fly to the most security-obsessed place on the planet, but hey–let’s not quibble.

Israel loves us. And we love Israel right back–to the tune of about $10.5 million a day.

Anyway, who says American elected officials have to stay in America to do their jobs? Bet the president would just love to convene his cabinet in the Kremlin (such friendly people! All that gold!). Georgia’s lawmakers might like to visit Saudi Arabia and pick up some pointers on how to handle uppity women.

And the minute somebody perfects time machine technology, the state of Alabama can fulfill its long-held dream of holding its legislative session in 1640.

But back to Israel. Sure, Florida wants to attract Israeli tourists to Cinderella’s Castle and Hogwarts and beaches which are only covered in dead fish a few times a year–poor Israelis usually have had to make do with the ancient holy sites of three religions and the Mediterranean.

But what Gov. DeSantis really wants to accomplish with this trip is to show Jewish voters that he is practically one of them, except he’s a Roman Catholic. No sooner than he hit the Tel Aviv Hilton, he assured the world that he understands the Israeli-Palestinian conflict with Kushnerian clarity: it’s the Palestinians’ fault.

For some reason, the Palestinians get mad when Jewish settlers cut down their olive trees and make them move off land they’ve owned for hundreds of years.

The real reason our dear governor wants to be known as “the most pro-Israel governor in America” is simple.

Jesus.

Prophecy says Jesus can’t come back until a red heifer gets born and people start sweating blood and Solomon’s temple gets rebuilt and also some other stuff that’s hard to remember.

Therefore, America has to keep Israel safe for cows, sweat, and building projects.

Just like Florida.

Diane Roberts
Diane Roberts is an 8th-generation Floridian, born and bred in Tallahassee, which probably explains her unhealthy fascination with Florida politics. Educated at Florida State University and Oxford University in England, she has been writing for newspapers since 1983, when she began producing columns on the legislature for the Florida Flambeau. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, the Times of London, the Guardian, the Washington Post, the Oxford American, and Flamingo. She has been a member of the Editorial Board of the St. Petersburg Times–back when that was the Tampa Bay Times’s name–and a long-time columnist for the paper in both its iterations. She was a commentator on NPR for 22 years and continues to contribute radio essays and opinion pieces to the BBC. Roberts is also the author of four books, most recently Dream State, an historical memoir of her Florida family, and Tribal: College Football and the Secret Heart of America. She lives in Tallahassee, except for the times she runs off to Great Britain, desperate for a different government to satirize.

6 COMMENTS

  1. I wonder if all those Floridians will give any thought to the Palestinians who are suffering under Israeli occupation. They could at least meet with some Palestinians, many of whom are interested in economic matters. Maybe some of the tycoons could invest in plants in the occupied territories where they could employ Palestinians at sub-standard wages and avoid pesky unions and government regulation.

  2. I figured that right wing fundamentalist “Christian” nonsense had something to do with this “trip”–don’t the Jewish/Israeli folk know that they have to die before Jesus returns? Good Grief!!

  3. Really? Never noticed that myself… and I’ve known her practically my whole life. Pointing out Israel’s problems doesn’t make someone anti Semitic. It makes them intelligent. Just like pointing out Florida’s problems doesn’t make them anti-Floridian, anti-American, anti-white, Hispanic, or African American.. All states/governments have problems. But the political entity is NOT the ethnicity. You are confusing race and religion with money and politics. Two different things.

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