Lingle welcomes Bush in Israel
The governor sees education as a key theme at the gathering
Gov. Linda Lingle met briefly with President Bush yesterday in Jerusalem after his arrival for ceremonies marking the 60th anniversary of the formation of Israel and a new push for peace in the Middle East.
Bush's agenda included a speech at Facing Tomorrow, a three-day conference of international leaders that Lingle has been attending this week. The conference, convened by Israeli President Shimon Peres, is billed as a gathering to discuss and analyze worldwide trends to develop strategies for taking on global challenges.
Lingle said her conversation with Bush, who arrived with first lady Laura Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, focused mainly on the conference.
"I just thanked him for being here at this time and what it meant," Lingle said in a telephone interview from Jerusalem.
Lingle, who is Jewish, was the only U.S. governor invited to the conference. Heads of state at the conference included the presidents of Albania, Croatia, Georgia, Latvia, Togo, Palau, Poland, Burkina Faso, Uganda, Rwanda, Mongolia and Slovenia. Business leaders, Nobel laureates and past heads of state, including former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, also were invited.
"People seem very excited to be together," Lingle said. "Everybody was talking about what an unbelievable once-in-a-generation happening this was."
Panel discussions focused on topics including U.S.-Israel relations and challenges facing various countries in statesmanship, science, economics, culture, religion and other fields.
"One of the big issues of the conference was globalization and the impact in the developing world," Lingle said.
She said many participants highlighted an issue that has been part of her administration's focus in Hawaii -- education and adapting to the rapidly changing technology-based economy.
"No matter who was speaking, it always seemed to come back to education," she said. "There's only one way to guarantee economic prosperity in the long term and that's investment in human capacity -- being able to adjust skills as the economy changes."
Lingle was part of a five-member panel discussing how to improve Israel's image throughout the world.
"The issue became: How do you combat media when media is showing these compelling pictures of, say, a child dying?" she said. "How do you get your message out against that? I don't think you can because there's nothing more compelling than a child dying, no matter what country or what background."
Lingle said she urged participants to engage in a type of grass-roots effort "to give a more truthful image via person-to-person exchange."
Lingle is scheduled to return to Hawaii today and attend the state Republican Party Convention this weekend in Waikiki.