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South Florida Colleges Sign Agreements with Israeli Universities During Governor's Trade Trip

The Florida Channel
Gov. Ron DeSantis holds a press briefing Monday with a view of the Mediterranean at the Hilton Tel Aviv. He met with Israeli officials, business leaders and academics.

During the start of his weeklong trade trip to Israel, Gov. Ron DeSantis said South Florida has one thing in common with Tel Aviv.

“Tel Aviv is worse than Miami traffic,” he told reporters Monday.

DeSantis spent Memorial Day fostering academic and business relationships between Florida and Israel. In particular, he signed memorandums of understanding with Space Florida and several state universities, including Miami Dade College, the University of North Florida and Florida Atlantic University.

John Kelly, president of FAU, said a collaboration with Haifa University, would provide for student exchanges and would allow for more research into aquaculture, or aqua farming.

“The collaboration will be a huge opportunity for our university,” he said Monday. “We have two ports associated with our campus, the southernmost being where ocean engineering was first created in the United States. The northernmost being a Homeland Security port with an aquaculture production facility there.”

Dan Flynn, vice president for research at FAU, also said the collaboration could extend to other research areas, such as coral reef health and coastal defense.

There was also another signing agreement Monday between FAU and Ariel University, located in the West Bank.

The governor is joined in Israel by a state delegation of more than 90 people – from lobbyists to elected officials. Some are pursuing their own itinerary outside of the one posted by the governor’s office just days before the trip’s departure on Saturday.

Broward County Sen. Lauren Book and a few other state lawmakers visited an Israeli school to meet with school safety experts and discuss hardening.

Jared Moskowitz, Florida’s director of emergency management, also met with Israel Defense Forces to take a tour of the border wall in Gaza.

The governor’s Wednesday schedule, in particular, has raised some concerns over officials violating open-meeting laws. Members of the Florida Cabinet will be holding a “ceremonial” meeting at the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem. Under Florida's Sunshine Law, meetings should be accessible to the public.

The Florida Channel, which is state-funded, will be the only outlet allowed to livestream the meeting.

You can keep up with the governor’s trip to Israel on The Florida Channel.