BATON ROUGE, La. (Christian Examiner) – Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal will visit Israel July 16-21, perhaps as another sign he is seriously considering a White House run in 2016.
The announcement comes just 2 days after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made a historic speech to the U.S. Congress criticizing the Obama Administration's nuclear weapons negotiations with Iran.
"Israel is one of the United States' greatest allies," Jindal spokesperson Shannon Bates told Christian Examiner. "This trip will help underscore the importance of that relationship."
When Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker hinted in January he would visit Israel this year, the Washington Times said such a trip is "a required pilgrimage for presidential candidates, particularly Republicans."
Jindal's trip likely will carry the same significance.
Jindal was invited to tour the Holy Land by the American Renewal Project, a conservative organization founded in 2005 to restore and promote traditional values. Last month, evangelical political activist David Lane, who heads ARP and has been engaged in Republican politics since 1992, paid for 60 members of the Republican National Committee to visit Israel.
"Helping our nation's political leaders focus on our Judeo/Christian heritage will help strengthen them as they make decisions affecting us," Lane told Christian Examiner. "The only currency to rebuild America is God's economy rooted in righteousness."
Carolyn McLarty, the Oklahoma National Committeewoman and a retired veterinarian, was one of the group to visit in February.
"We gained an appreciation for the size and vulnerability of the country as well as found empathy for the Israeli people who live constantly surrounded by their enemies," she said. "We saw how critical it is for Israel to control the volcanic plateau called the Golan Heights. ...
In addition to showing the importance of the Golan Heights to Israel's security, the tour also highlighted the geopolitical significance of Israel's location at the nexus of three continents.
When Jindal travels to Israel in July, he will make some strategic acquaintances, being accompanied by evangelical pastors from Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada -- four states which play a critical early role in the Republican primaries.
Louisiana has a two-term limit for governors, and Jindal will complete his second term in 2015.