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Gov. Chris Christie met with Ambassador of Israel to the United States Dr. Michael Oren on Monday, Oct. 24. Governor’s Office/Tim Larsen

Gov. Chris Christie this week announced that his first overseas trip as New Jersey’s chief of state will be to the State of Israel. Christie made the announcement following a meeting with Ambassador of Israel to the United States Dr. Michael Oren at the Statehouse on Monday, Oct. 24.

“I’m pleased to be able to welcome Ambassador Oren here today,” Christie said. Among the topics the two men discussed, the governor said, was “our common upbringing. We both grew up in Livingston and West Orange, and spent a lot of time there in our youth and so we shared a lot of those experiences as well.”

“Also, the ambassador, Mary Pat, and I have decided that our first foreign travel as governor and the first lady will be Israel next year,” Christie said, adding that the trip most likely will take place in April.

“It’s an important visit for me personally and an important visit for the folks of New Jersey as well,” Christie said.

Oren thanked Christie for their meeting and “for sharing our childhood memories, even though we were rival football teams.”

Unfortunately, Oren said of Christie, “his team won all the time.”

The ambassador went on to emphasize “the great similarities between Israel and the State of New Jersey. It is obvious that our states are virtually the same size, [have] virtually the same population, and so…[try to] imagine the State of New Jersey transported to the Middle East where we find tens of thousands of rockets on its borders, hostile nations, a nation not far away which is developing nuclear weapons with the express purpose of erasing the Jewish state from the map.”

Israel, said Oren, is able to “overcome those challenges through our strong support in the United States in general and New Jersey in particular.

“New Jersey, as [the governor] mentioned, has had a long and very proud history of supporting the State of Israel. We have great centers of support in the state and we discussed ways that we can further advance this in the field of trade and security, in tourism by having the governor and his family come visit us, and we look forward to hosting you very much, you and your family.”

Accompanying Oren to the meeting were Acting Consul General of Israel in New York Ido Aharoni and Deputy Consul General of Israel in New York Shlomi Kofman. Present with Christie was New Jersey Israel Commission Chairman Mark Levenson.