Friday, Governor Andrew Cuomo wrapped up what amounted to a 36-hour whirlwind trip of Israel — mixing both support for the Jewish state and drumming up business for New York.
When Cuomo set off this week for his third trip to Israel since taking office in 2011, he said the visit was in large part to counteract the rise in anti-Semitic activity around the country and in New York.
"I wish I could say as governor of New York we have been immune. We have not," Cuomo said.
Cuomo during his visit stopped at holy sites like the Western Wall and met with top Israeli leaders, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. But the trip was also meant to highlight what trade deals could be reached to benefit New York. One area of opportunity: upstate New York's growing drone industry.
"I believe it's going to be explosive in terms of economic potential going forward. We have a big invest in that in the state of New York — both from an R and D point of view — and it's a big economic engine for central New York," Cuomo said.
Cuomo also visited the site of a self-driving car plant in Jerusalem. Business Council spokesman Pat Bailey said the focus on bolstering technology and business ties with Israel makes sense for New York state.
"There's a lot of opportunity for trade in Israel that may not be tapped into," Bailey said.
New York does billions of dollars in trade with other nations, including neighboring Canda.
"It's huge and especially since we have so many businesses, manufacturers, and farmers that are right on the border of Canada, can literally see Canada, they can jog over the border, they can rely on those markets to be open to them and can rely on them to survive and grow," Bailey said.
But Israel could present a unique opportunity. Cuomo hopes the self-driving car technology, for instance, could be used for the subways of the future.
"We're always looking for investment from other countries. So I think what the governor is doing is a positive thing for New York state," Bailey said.
And Cuomo on the trip announced a $2 million deal with Israeli economic development entities to further foster economic ties with New York.
The trip for Cuomo comes as some liberals in the U.S. have been critical of the close relationship between President Trump and Prime Minister Netanyahu — who has been aligned with the country’s right wing. Cuomo has said the trip isn’t meant to be political.