April 2016 Column: Alabama’s Longstanding Partnership with Israel
Alabama has a long history of strong support for the State of Israel. Alabama lead the nation as the first state to officially call for the establishment of the Jewish state and homeland.
At a time in the midst of World War II, when war was waging between America and Nazi Germany, but also systematic extermination and mass murders of the Jews in Europe was occurring, the Alabama Legislature made a pledge to stand with Israel. In 1943, a Joint Resolution was unanimously adopted.
For more than 70 years, the State of Alabama has repeatedly demonstrated its pledge to stand with Israel. In 1981, Governor Fob James hosted a celebration of the 33rd Anniversary of Israel’s rebirth as a nation at the Governor’s mansion. In 1997, Alabama and Israel entered in a State-to-State Trade Agreement, signed by Governor James, to promote the exchange of manufacturing goods. In 2012, Israel ranked as Alabama’s ninth leading trade partner. Trade continues today as Alabama has exported $37 million of goods to Israel in 2015.
In the wake of the September 2001 terrorist attacks, the Alabama Legislature passed another Joint Resolution to express support for Israel and for all the people suffering at the hands of terrorism. Governor Bob Riley declared August 14, 2006, “Stand with Israel Day” in Alabama. In 2012, Governor Robert Bentley and other state leaders publicly supported Israel to defend itself against years of deadly rockets fired from the Palestinian-controlled Gaza Strip. In 2013, by way of a Proclamation by the Governor, Alabama once again expressed its steadfast support of the State of Israel.
On April 7, 2016, the Alabama Legislature invited Deputy Speaker of the Israeli Knesset, Hilik Bar, to address a Joint Session of the Legislature. Speaker Bar is the highest ranking Israeli official to visit Alabama. On the same day, SB81 by Senator Orr was passed out of the Senate that would require that all government entities must include a provision in certain purchasing contracts assuring that the business providing the good or service is not currently engaged in, and will not engage in, the boycott of an entity doing business with a jurisdiction with which the state can enjoy free trade. SB81 is currently awaiting passage by the House.
In a time when the Middle East is threated by terrorism, Israel’s sovereignty continues to be challenged. Alabama has proved for more than 70 years that our support is unwavering. As the first state in the country to call for the establishment of the State of Israel, Alabama stands committed to the existence and establishment of the democratic state in the Middle East. We will continue to contribute efforts to strengthening our state-to-state relationship. Alabama remains committed to stand with Israel.