Ever since the State of Israel was founded in 1948, the State of Georgia has worked to maintain strong relations with the Jewish State. The launch of the Georgia-Israel Legislative Caucus on Mar. 24 is an extension of that relationship.
“The newly established bicameral and bipartisan Georgia-Israel legislative caucus is testament to the strength and extent of the close relations between the State of Israel and the great State of Georgia,” said Anat Sultan-Dadon, Consul General of Israel in Atlanta.
“The new caucus will serve as an additional platform for mutual engagement and collaboration, contributing to further strengthening our mutually beneficial bilateral relations in the political, economic, cultural, academic and social realms. The many friends and supporters of Israel and of Georgia-Israel relations within the state legislature will now have an additional opportunity to engage together and learn more about Israel and our relations, as well as explore opportunities for further collaboration.”
At the announcement ceremony at the Capitol, Gov. Brian Kemp stated, “As I said last month at the signing of HB 383, for many decades now, Georgia’s friendship and shared values with Israel have only continued to grow, as both our cultural and economic bonds have strengthened. Israel has maintained a consular presence in Georgia since 1956, and the State of Georgia has had representation in Israel since 1994. The launch of the new caucus is going to be a great addition to our longtime partnership.”
HB 383 updated the existing law that restricts the state from contracting with companies that boycott Israel.
The new Georgia-Israel Legislative Caucus will be co-chaired by six members of the Georgia General Assembly. The founding co-chairs are Sen. John Albers (R), Sen. Tonya Anderson (D), Rep. Debra Bazemore (D), Rep. John Carson (R), Rep. Micah Gravely (R), and Rep. Mike Wilensky (D).
According to the consul general, “The establishment of the Georgia-Israel Caucus is certainly a clear expression of support for the State of Israel, but it is also much more than that. It is a recognition of the mutually beneficial nature of the relations between Georgia and Israel, and an expression of interest in further strengthening and expanding these relations.”
Referring to the six co-chairs of the new caucus, Sultan-Dadon said “We are full of appreciation to our friends in the House of Representatives and in the State Senate, Democrats and Republicans, who have joined in supporting this initiative and chosen to be the founding co-chairs of the caucus. As with any legislative caucus, with every election cycle and changes in elected officials, some members will leave the caucus and new members will join. When any of the co-chairs is no longer in the state legislature, a new co-chair will fill the role. I am pleased to say that there are many within the state legislature who are keen to join and play a role in the caucus and in actively supporting the further strengthening of our relations.”
Rep. Wilensky, who is Jewish, has announced that he’s not running for reelection. According to Wilensky, “The establishment of the Georgia-Israel Legislative caucus will allow for more legislators to learn about Israel, our greatest ally in the Middle East, and all the benefits the State and their constituents receive through the mutually beneficial relationship.”
On a personal level, Wilensky, told the AJT that even though he had attended a Jewish day school, when he first became a legislator, he was surprised to learn that Israel was one of Georgia’s biggest partners. “If I didn’t know it, I thought it was important that people understand this beneficial relationship.”
Sultan-Dadon added that the initiative was a collaboration between the Consulate General of Israel to the Southeast and the legislators.
“We are grateful for those representatives and senators who have joined in founding this caucus, as well as so many who have expressed their support. We were honored that the Governor and the Speaker of the House agreed to participate in the launch event,” she said.
“We look forward to the Georgia-Israel Legislative Caucus providing an additional platform for mutual engagement and collaboration, contributing to the further strengthening of our mutually beneficial relations,” Consul General Sultan-Dadon added.