Knesset Speaker thanks Alabama for “unwavering support” of Israel

Eeki Elner, John Buhler, Andrea and Pastor Patrick Penn and Governor Kay Ivey have a moment of prayer in the governor’s office on May 31.

In a May 31 ceremony at the governor’s office in Montgomery, the state of Alabama received official gratitude from Israel for the state’s support.

Eeki Elner, chair of the Israel Leadership Institute, presented Alabama Governor Kay Ivey with a personal letter and commendation from Amir Ohana, speaker of the Knesset. Several members of the Alabama-Israel Task Force, an interfaith coalition that supports the institute, also attended the ceremony.

John Buhler, co-founder of AITF, explained that within hours of the Oct. 7 massacre, Ivey and others issued “strong public statements of support and solidarity,” and early on Oct. 9, ordered the lowering of flags throughout the state for the rest of the week. The order included a call to prayer for Israel and the Jewish people.

A couple weeks later, Ivey and State Treasurer Young Boozer issued a joint statement affirming Alabama standing with Israel and announcing an investment of $6 million in Israel Bonds, adding to the $4 million the state already held.

In March, the Alabama Legislature passed Senate Joint Resolution 29, expressing “unequivocal support” for Israel and condemning Hamas and its supporters. The resolution condemned Hamas’ use of sexual violence against Israelis, recognized that the Jewish people are indigenous to the land and rejected the argument that Jews are colonizers or occupiers. A signing ceremony with Ivey was held on April 9.

The letter from Ohana, on behalf of the Knesset, was to convey “sincere thanks” for SJR29. “At a time when the justness of Israel’s cause and its right to defend itself are consistently called into question, the moral clarity of you and the Alabama Legislature is greatly appreciated.”

He added that as Israel continues to mourn its losses, “it is comforting to know that Israel is not alone in its fight against terrorism and in defense of our shared values.”

Ohana also sent Ivey a large commemorative photo album, “Memory Fragments,” in remembrance of Oct. 7. The album was created for heads of state, and Ohana signed it “in commemoration of the Jewish people’s darkest day since the Holocaust and with deep respect for your strong support for Israel.”

On a personal level, Elner also presented Ivey with a signed copy of his recent book, “The Last Year of My Life.” Elner recently survived cancer, and Ivey is also a cancer survivor. The book chronicles his journey from a deadly diagnosis to renewal.

Ivey presented Elner with an Alabama photo album and a newly minted governor’s edition state coin, and an official signed copy of the resolution for Ohana.

Pastor Patrick and Andrea Penn of The Dwelling Place in Huntsville led a prayer for Ivey, proclaiming a biblical blessing over the state of Alabama for honoring and standing with Israel and the Jewish people.

Ivey noted on X that the visitors had called the state’s support a “ray of light from Alabama,” and that “here at home, we will always support Israel and continue to combat antisemitism.”