Governor Martin O'Malley's Trip to Israel
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Governor O'Malley Blogs From Israel
Photographs from Israel
^ Governor Meets with Ambassador Jones
^ Governor and Prime Minister Olmert
^ Governor, Israeli Delegation and Prime Minister
^ Meeting with Israeli Leadership
^ A discussion with Mr. Netanyahu
^ Speaking with Dr. Rafi Hofstein
Interview with Governor O'Malley
(from Baltimore Jewish Times)
Editor’s Note: Gov. Martin O’Malley is in Israel as head of a Maryland delegation of a May 26 to June 1 Maryland delegation. The trip purposely coincides with the annual Israeli Biomedical Conference, one of the premier international events in that field. He will update this blog frequently during his trip. The first entry is his response to questions posed to him before his trip.
BALTIMORE JEWISH TIMES: You’ve been to Israel before. What do you hope to accomplish this time?
Gov. Martin O’Malley: I took my first trip in 2005, while serving as Mayor. During this trip, we learned about homeland security technologies and promoted economic development opportunities with Baltimore city. This trip will focus on healing – the biomedical technologies for which Israel is a world leader.
Israel, as many of your readers will know, exports more life saving technologies per capita than any country on earth. Here in Maryland, we’re also one of the world’s leaders in biotech, and I believe that growing this sector of our economy is one of the keys to unlocking a stronger economic future for our State.
A half century after the Exodus embarked from Baltimore Harbor on a mission to save lives, Maryland and Israel once again have a tremendous opportunity to partner on developing life saving technologies – what Dr. Jeffrey Sachs calls “weapons of mass salvation.”
BJT: What are you most looking forward to?
Gov. O’Malley: There are many reasons why I am looking forward to this trip. I am looking forward to speaking at the Israel Biomed Conference. Last summer, I met the delegation of Israeli life science entrepreneurs who came to Baltimore for the Maryland/Israel Development Center’s MarketReach America program. Many of them talked about how exciting the Biomed conference is, and the wonderful new medical technologies that are being developed in Israel. Over 5,000 people attended last year from 40 different countries, and it is a great opportunity to market Maryland to the Israeli and international biotech and medical device communities as the premier location in the U.S. to do business.
I am also excited about my meeting with the executives of Teva Pharmaceuticals, Israel’s largest pharmaceutical company and one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world. Just two months ago, Teva acquired CoGenesys in Rockville, one of our leading biotechnology companies, for $400 million. I want to make sure Teva keeps those jobs in Maryland and discuss with company management how we can work with them to expand in Maryland.
On a personal level, I am looking to forward to visiting with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert again. As you recall, the Prime Minister visited with us in Annapolis earlier this year. I am also looking forward touring the Jewish Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem once again.
And, with a heavy heart I look forward to making my second visit to Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust museum. With the recognition of Yom HaShoah is month, the haunting memories from my last visit have weighed heavily on me.
We will be sharing many of these experiences with the Jewish community back home through a daily blog.
BJT: Do you hope to strengthen Maryland ties with Israel?
Israel and Maryland have enjoyed a special relationship, dating back to the days of the Exodus, the Chesapeake Bay ship that sailed Baltimore Harbor on its historic journey to rescue Holocaust refugees in Europe and take them to their homeland in Israel. Like the U.S.-Israel relationship, it strong bond based on shared values – values like freedom, democracy, the dignity of every individual, and the desire to work together on cures and life saving technologies.
Both our people and the Israeli people recognize the security threats posed by Iran. When I met with Prime Minister Olmert at Government House last fall, he stressed to me the importance of the Iranian divestiture legislation that at the time was before our General Assembly. I signed this legislation recently, and the Baltimore Jewish Council and others believe it is the strongest of its kind in the nation.
During the past legislative session, we also increased funding by 50 percent for the Maryland/Israel Development Center, our partnership with Israel’s Ministry of Industry and Trade and The Associated Jewish Federation of Baltimore to promote trade and investment between our companies.
We are always striving for ways to strengthen our business, scientific and community ties with Israel. Trips like this with our delegation of 32 Maryland business and Jewish Community leaders demonstrate our continuing support.
BJT: What is the message you bring from Maryland to Israelis?
We bring a message of friendship, partnership and solidarity. Maryland and Israel have a tremendous amount in common; our strengths in high technology, our historic commitment to freedom and security, and our conviction that tomorrow can be a better day for our children.
We believe, as President Kennedy said, that “Israel will endure and flourish. It is the child of hope and the home of the brave. It can neither be broken by adversity nor demoralized by success. It carries the shield of democracy and it honors the sword of freedom.”