Gov. John Bel Edwards visits UNO, discusses his progress in Israel

Hope Brusstar, Editor-In-Chief


Students entering the University Center on Monday, Jan. 28 may have noticed the sudden uptick in security guards posted at nearly every corner and doorway of the building. That evening, Louisiana governor John Bel Edwards paid a visit to the University Center ballroom to speak about his Oct. 26 – Nov. 2 2018 trip to Israel and his related plans for Louisiana.

Before Edwards spoke at about 6:30 p.m., some members of his administration held a panel discussion about their participation in the trip, including commissioner of administration Jay Dardenne and Port of New Orleans vice president Robert Landry. They discussed in detail the projects that Edwards fostered between Louisiana and Israel during his trip.

“We were able to accomplish a great many things during our trip,” said Edwards.

While in Israel, he made arrangements to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who he said has visited Louisiana in the past. “Compared to his job, I’ve got it made, because he is in a bad neighborhood,” said Edwards. “He’s a lot smarter than I am,” he said later on, smiling, and eliciting smiles from the audience.

During the trip, Edwards attended 22 meetings in five days. He and his team discussed a myriad of topics with various officials, including trade deals, water management, and cyber security.

According to Edwards, Israel has launched 143 cyber security startup firms in the last 3 years and provides for 43% of the world’s cyber security needs. Likewise, “It’s my goal for Louisiana to be a national and international leader in cyber security,” said Edwards. “We will soon have another major capital investment in Louisiana,” he went on, citing the opening of DXC Technologies in New Orleans, a technology firm expected to bring 2000 new jobs to the area.

While in Israel, the army veteran took a tour of the Iron Dome, Israel’s missile defense system.

He and his wife also had the opportunity to remember the lives lost during the Holocaust. Said Edwards, “Donna and I had the solemn privilege of laying the wreath at the World Holocaust Museum.” In 2020, the Museum of Southern Jewish Experience will open in the New Orleans art district.

Most chairs in the ballroom were full, with over 100 people in attendance. If any UNO students were in attendance, it was not obvious, and no prior public communication about the event was made to the campus community. Said student government Sen. Nicky Cao at the following SGA meeting on Thursday in University Center room 208, “There was a mass increase of NOPD… UNO did not inform students in advance … it was reckless.”

Meanwhile, during the question-and-answer session, a group of Tulane students who were in the audience presented Edwards with a brief question.

Edwards’ last public visit to the University was made on Dec. 14, 2018, when he was the principal speaker at the fall graduation ceremony.