The Austin Chronicle

Why Rick Went to Israel

By Richard Whittaker, September 27, 2007, 11:59am, Newsdesk

When Gov. Rick Perry took a jaunt to Israel back in June, there was hot debate that he was building foreign-policy credentials for an attempted vice-presidential run. But now it seems that it was less about political posturing, and more about economics.

On Tuesday, Perry officially established the Texas-Israel Chamber of Commerce. While Texas is already Israel's number three US trading partner, there's room for improvement, especially since they have so much in common (insert gag about both wanting to put big walls up to keep their neighbors out here.) Calling Israel the other Lone Star State (it's a flag joke), he talked up the possibility for public and private partnerships, especially in the high-tech industry. Perry also boosted the idea that it will improve trade with the European Union - which kinda makes you wonder if he's very clear on where Israel is.

Of course, it wasn't completely free of political posturing. Yet again, he called for the Texas Employees Retirement System and Teachers Retirement System to divest themselves of any investments in companies that do business with Iran. It's a topic that so infuriates him that, even though the press release he put out was allegedly about the new chamber, the first four of its nine paragraphs are actually about how bad Iran is. But the plea to the ERS and TRS is an interesting step-down: back in July, Perry was threatening to either use his powers as governor or call a special session to force divestment. Now he's down to asking nicely.

Copyright © 2024 Austin Chronicle Corporation. All rights reserved.