Gov. Holcomb heads to Israel to meet with Netanyahu, expresses support for Israelis

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INDIANAPOLIS — Gov. Eric Holcomb has accepted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s invitation to visit Israel.

The governor is expected to be in Israel on Tuesday and Wednesday.

“I stand in support of Israel and look forward to meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu to continue forging an even stronger Israel-Indiana bond,” Gov. Holcomb said in a release. “We have a growing number of Hoosiers and Hoosier businesses that share strong cultural and economic ties with this country, so when I was invited, I did not hesitate to make this trip to meet in Israel during such an hour of need.”

Competing claims to Jerusalem lie at the heart of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and have repeatedly triggered violence in the past.

The AP reports, “At least 230 Palestinians were killed, including 65 children and 39 women, with 1,710 people wounded, according to the Gaza Health Ministry, which does not break the numbers down into fighters and civilians. Twelve people in Israel, including a 5-year-old boy and 16-year-old girl, were killed. The United States, Israel’s closest and most important ally, initially backed what it said was Israel’s right to self-defense against indiscriminate rocket fire. But as the fighting dragged on and the death toll mounted, the Americans increasingly pressured Israel to stop the offensive.”

“I think it is very telling that Governor Holcomb wants to make it a point that he is very interested in taking the side of Israel,” said Dr. Fait Muedini, a Professor of International Studies at Butler University. “I read that quote and in the case of violence and conflict every single case of suffering is horrific. But for him to say he is standing with Israel in this hour of need it makes me think where are you speaking out for the 60 plus Palestinian children that were killed in these bombings by Israel? Why are we not thinking about the mothers and fathers who will not see their kids again? Where are they in this hour of need?”

He said he believes Holcomb’s decision is very political. 

“He wants to align himself with the Israeli government,” said Dr. Muedini. “Something that is very similar to President Trump.”

Dr. Laura Wilson, an Associate Professor with the University of Indianapolis agreed this could be a political move for Holcomb. 

“It could be helpful both to Holcomb himself and his future political endeavors as well as the state of Indiana and maybe potential future economic growth here too,” said Wilson. “Certainly from an economic perspective it’s helpful but there’s also a financial component as well and if he’s looking for support, perhaps for a future political office, he could find some campaign financiers.”

Muedini said voters should always question the motives of politicians.

“We need to challenge those on the left and the right when their interests are not for the interest of human rights,” said Dr. Muedini.

Wilson said due to Indiana’s political demographics, she does not believe this decision will impact Holcomb negatively but there will be people who disagree with his decision to pick a side.

“I don’t think it would have a long ranging or wide spread back lash if you will,” said Wilson.

In addition to the Prime Minister, Gov. Holcomb is also scheduled to meet with Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi and other leaders.

This is not Holcomb’s first trip to Israel. In 2018, he led a delegation of Hoosier public officials and business executives to Israel for an economic development trip. The governor met with Prime Minister Netanyahu on that trip.

Gov. Holcomb is scheduled to return to Indiana on Thursday. The trip is being paid for by Imagine Indiana Inc. According to Gov. Holcomb’s office, no taxpayer funds will be used to pay for the governor’s trip.

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