Gov. Rick Perry Says Texas can Learn from Israeli Security Efforts
by Todd Gillman
The Dallas Morning News
August 14, 2009
Gov. Rick Perry compared Mexico to the Gaza strip, saying Texas can learn from Israeli security efforts after touring a town that has been hit by Palestinian rockets.
Perry, who has demanded a heightened U.S. troop presence along the Rio Grande, went to Israel's border with Gaza earlier with week and was briefed by Israeli Army officials.
"Kassam rockets have killed 28 Israelis over the last eight years. Well, 1,000 people have been killed in Juarez since the beginning of the year," the governor told the Jerusalem Post in Friday's editions, referring to the drug-related killings across the border from El Paso. "So we're trying to find ways to secure that border, because just like it's important to Israelis to keep heavy security on their border with Gaza, it's important to citizens of Texas to keep out the illegal activities that are going on with drugs."
Perry's office has been mum about his exact whereabouts during the trip. His wife Anita, their son Griffin, and Griffin's fiancee are reportedly with him, and he returns to Texas on Saturday.
The Gaza-Mexico comparison was far more strident than the tone struck by President Barack Obama on Monday in Guadalajara, Mexico, at the so-called "Three Amigos Summit" with the leaders of Mexico and Canada, although border violence was among the topics there and Obama pledged ongoing support in Mexico's fight with drug cartels.
"We went to Sderot and saw the police station with all the Kassam rockets piled up, we saw playgrounds that had to be covered from rocket fire. It's a powerful place," Perry told the Post, referring to the town near Gaza that took the brunt of attacks in recent years.
While in Israel, Perry also has met with President Shimon Peres and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and, according to his office, visited "sacred and historical sites," including Jerusalem's Old City, according to the Post.
Israel is coping with a dwindling supply of fresh water, and Perry told the Post that "Israel has a lot that we can learn from, especially in the areas of water conservation and semi-arid land."
His first visit to Israel was 18 years ago, and he was also here in 2007.
He described his views on Israel in religious terms sure to strike a chord with conservative Texas voters in the March primary against Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison.
"I'm a big believer that this country was given to the people of Israel a long time ago, by God, and that's ordained," Perry said, offering prayers and nearly unequivocal support for Israel -- a stance that puts him at odds with many American policymakers and even much of the Israeli populace, who feel that American prodding has kept Israel's hawks in check.
Perry was critical of the Obama administration for putting any pressure on Israel.
"Israel does all the giving and the other side does not reciprocate," Perry said. "What I don't understand is this administration's hesitancy to recognize the sovereignty of Israel."
Perry's office said he also wanted to cultivate Texas-Israeli business ties on the trip.
Besides the Gaza-Mexico comparison, he drew a parallel between Texas' shrine to freedom and an Israeli mountaintop fortress where Jewish zealots held out against a Roman siege before committing mass suicide.
"The comparison between Masada and the Alamo was not lost on me," he said, recalling his first visit to Israel 18 years ago. "We're talking about two groups of people who were willing to give up their lives for freedom and liberty."
Related Topics: Palestinian Rockets
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