“A Visit To Israel” By Gov. Brad Henry

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From the Office of Gov. Brad Henry
October 17, 2003

Last month, Kim and I had the privilege of visiting Israel, and it was an experience for which I am deeply thankful. We went at the invitation of the Oklahoma Israel Exchange, a nonprofit organization promoting relations between Oklahoma and Israel.

Moments from the trip will stay with me for many years to come — the stark reality of the Holocaust memorial, Yad Vashem; the inspiration of Masada; the majesty of Jerusalem. We walked the Via Dolorosa, along which Jesus Christ carried the Cross to the Crucifixion, and we stood alongside the Sea of Galilee where Christ delivered the Sermon on the Mount. Words do little to convey the impressions carried from sites that are of monumental significance in Christianity, Judaism and Islam.

I also had the privilege of giving a presentation at an international conference hosted by the International Policy Institute for Counter-Terrorism. At the forum, I stressed the bonds linking Israel with our state. Long before Sept. 11, 2001, the Oklahoma City federal building bombing had taught Americans the grim lesson that terrorism can strike anywhere, at any time.

In addition, it was gratifying to discuss the ongoing cooperation between businesses in Israel and Oklahoma. These relationships provide exciting economic possibilities for both. State Agriculture Secretary Terry Peach and state Sen. Bruce Price were particularly pleased with the partnerships they forged on the trip in support of Oklahoma agriculture.

Finally, the trip helped shed light on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I had the opportunity to tour Israeli military outposts, visit several Israeli government officials and speak with a Palestinian journalist – and it all confirmed my conviction that most Israelis and Palestinians do want peace.

If you have questions or comments, please write me at the Office of the Governor, Room 212, Oklahoma City OK 73105 or visit the “Contact the Governor” section of my website at http://www.governor.state.ok.us/.