Governor Nathan Deal and a delegation of the state’s top officials are wrapping up a five day economic development mission to Israel. Greg Bluestein, a reporter for the Atlanta Journal Constitution, is traveling with the governor. He talked to GPB News reporter Claire Simms via Skype from Israel.
Bluestein says the real purpose of the trip is to sell Georgia as a launching pad for businesses in Israel.
“Israel is known as a start-up nation. There’s a lot of startups and entrepreneurial spirit here. And a lot of these businesses are looking beyond the Israeli market because it’s so small.”
The AJC reporter says many of the businessmen the governor talked to didn’t know anything about Georgia. He says state officials are looking at building long-term relationships.
In addition to trying to attract business to Georgia, the Governor was also campaigning for re-election. Bluestein says Deal is trying to emphasize his ties to Jewish voters and donors.
“There was a trip from the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta of about 200 well-heeled, influential Jewish families and donors who were here at the same time,” he said. "And Governor Deal spoke to them on Sunday night just as they were leaving. And the crowd was rather appreciative of that. So he was trying to hit that message home.”
Democratic Senator Jason Carter is running against Deal. Bluestein says Carter may be hampered by his grandfather Jimmy Carter’s remarks. The former president raised ire in Israel when he compared Israeli treatment of Palestinians in the West Bank with apartheid.