Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant bounded on stage and, in his obvious Southern drawl, greeted the guests of the Jerusalem Leaders Summit, which took place last month at the Inbal hotel.
Bryant was presented with the Distinguished Leadership Award for his efforts to strengthen the Israel-U.S. strategic partnership. He is a strong Israel advocate and his emotions were on full display when he addressed the crowd. “We have so many friends around the world,” he said, “but none as close, and none that I love more than Israel. I am called to be here. Perhaps sometimes we cannot explain exactly why, but that call, that voice, is stronger than any other that we hear, to come to Israel, to Jerusalem, to do what I can to strengthen this relationship.”
The Third Jerusalem Leaders Summit held from Nov. 18-20, proved a unique event featuring leading voices who articulated principled solutions in addressing the 21st-century’s economic concerns, global threats and security challenges. The parent organization—the International Leaders Summit, co-founded by Joel Anand Samy and Natasha Srdoc—brought together leaders from America, Britain, continental Europe, India and Israel to its inaugural Jerusalem Leaders Summit event in 2015, affirming the rule of law of civilization, based on shared principles and values.
This year’s summit focused on strengthening the rule of law, advancing economic freedom and free trade, and featuring contributions from the fields of innovation and technology that benefit individuals around the world.
Anand Samy told JNS, “We are delighted that Governor Phil Bryant is here with a trade delegation. … This is a practical approach that we are infusing into the Jerusalem Leaders summit. Bringing business leaders together who are looking into establishing economic partnerships, security partnerships through their endeavors working with government entities as well. So this is where we see the next level developing of us being involved as a team, as an organization, in facilitating these important gatherings.”
“This is our third summit here in Jerusalem, Israel,” he said. “We’ve been talking about the challenges and opportunities of the 21st century, specifically looking at what is happening in the Middle East, and also seeing that bright hope, which we see through Israel, a startup nation not depending upon oil or other mineral resources, but is able to advance free enterprise based on the rule of law and protection of intellectual property rights that has really fueled technology, creativity and innovation. So we decided that it would be so important to have an event here in Israel.”
Asked what he means to achieve by focusing on the rule of law, Anand Samy said “the rule of law, interestingly enough, has a Judeo-tradition and foundation to it. If we look back to the Judeo sacred texts, we realize that the Ten Commandments said very clearly ‘Thou shalt not steal.’ So when we think about property rights and intellectual property rights, and we think all through the course of history, we focus on Rome or Greece, but when we think of the Magna Carta, a lot of those key principles came from this land.”
He said that Israel is an example of a flourishing, modern-day democracy based on the rule of law, situated in a region where there is great unrest. “And what is that uniqueness about Israel?” he asked. “It is based on the rule of law. It is based upon democratic principles. And what better way to celebrate that than hosting events here in Jerusalem, Israel?”
Products into the heartland of America
Bryant told JNS how he would suggest that people get to know the real Israel—not what they glean from the mainstream media.
“You have more people that come and visit. You have more governors, more senators, more congressmen or more prime ministers. People from all over the world,” he said. “One of the things that we have in common is that people misunderstand Israel as much as they misunderstand Mississippi. That’s why we’re here. I tell people, ‘Once you’ve come here, you can go back as an advocate for Israel and say you need to go.’ ”
“Everyone I talk to says, ‘Oh, I wish I could go to Israel.’ Well, go! They’re flying planes out of New York and Atlanta every day. … The more people that come here, I think the more they understand the reality that is Israel. It is the most remarkable place in the world,” gushed Bryant.
“I think what we can do better is let the Americans know the opportunities they have to trade with Israel,” he said. “Products that are being manufactured here are absolutely amazing. And so we’ve got to get those products into the heartland of America, so you’re gonna need distribution systems, you’re gonna need salesmen. You’re gonna need someone to say, ‘We manufacture a product in Israel, I’ve got to get it to the United States, I’ve got to get it on the shelf at Walmart,’ or ‘I’ve got to get it to the Department of Defense, the United States Army or Navy … .’ We try to help do that in Mississippi with a lot of our industries.”
Bryant also addressed efforts by some to boycott companies that do business with Israel.
“That’s not going to happen,” he said adamantly. “I was at a board meeting with Caterpillar, and they said they need to stop selling Caterpillars to the Jewish nation, and we said, ‘No! We’re not going to do that.’ We have had success. We were able to pass a bill that said we will not invest, in the State of Mississippi, any of our dollars, whether education or retirement dollars, in any company that is helping threaten Israel, attack Israel, [or] supporting those nations and rogue organizations that are a threat to Israel.
“The State of Mississippi is experiencing economic growth, and so is Israel,” noted Anand Samy, “so what better time to bring them together?”
And then he added, “Why should events take place in the Swiss Alps? Why not here, where the desert is blooming?”