A group including Gov. Ron DeSantis, politicians, business leaders, lobbyists and academics land in Tel Aviv on Sunday.
By Jeffrey Schweers 3 hours ago
TEL AVIV, ISRAEL – While Florida slept nearly 100 politicians, business leaders, lobbyists and academics flew to Israel after a 30-minute delay caused by security checks.
This intrepid reporter was among at least a dozen other passengers pulled into a private, secure room to have his bags checked one last time before boarding. Israeli security put our laptops and cameras under intense scrutiny.
We touched down in Tel Aviv after an uneventful flight at 6:05 p.m. Israel time (11:05 EST), and were greeted by a Visit Florida advertisement exhorting visitors to “Follow Your Sunshine” upon disembarking. The Florida tourism agency just announced that it was laying off 44 of its 135 employees after state lawmakers slashed its budget by more than a third.
This reporter also caught a glimpse of Gov. DeSantis behind a rope line on his cell phone wearing a navy blazer and his trademark black cowboy boots.
The delegation breezed through security and customs and were greeted by our Israeli hosts before boarding charter buses to the Hilton where most of delegation is staying while in Tel Aviv.
A meet and greet is planned for later today.
I had brief chat with Emergency Management Director Jared Moskowitz, who plans to tour the Israeli emergency management center at the Gaza border tomorrow.
Sen. Lauren Book said she’s excited to meet with security experts tomorrow morning to learn more about school security.
And Rep. Randy Fine hopes to talk to experts about water quality, given his concerns about the Indian River Lagoon.
USA TODAY NETWORK – FLORIDA Statehouse Reporter Jeffrey Schweers is accompanying Gov. Ron DeSantis and his 90-plus member delegation on his Israeli business development mission this week as a pool reporter for the Florida Society of News Editors. Schweers will provide regular reports and updates from Tel Aviv and Jerusalem for Florida’s newspapers. Follow him on Twitter for updates @jeffschweers.Jeffrey Schweersuz