Oklahoma and Israel
Trade and Population Statistics
|Exports to Israel (2014)
| Percentage Change (2013-2014)
| Total Exports to Israel (1996-Present)
|Israel's Trade Partner Rank (2014)
|Military Contracts with Israel (2015)
|Jewish Population (2015)
| Jewish Percentage of Population
foundation grants shared by Oklahoma and Israel
Grant recipients in
Oklahoma from U.S.-Israel binational foundations:
Acme Engineering Corp.
International Environmental Inc.
Oklahoma State University
The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation
University of Oklahoma
The OKIE was created by Governor
David Walters and became an official non-profit organization during
the administration of Governor Frank Keating in 1997. Both Governor
Brad Henry and incoming (as of December 2010) Governor Mary Fallin is
a strong supporter of close ties between the two states. The mission
of OKIE is described as “to foster enhanced cooperation between
the peoples, governments, and private and public sectors of Oklahoma
and Israel in culture, education, agriculture and commerce." Learn
more about the Oklahoma-Israel Exchange, CLICK
Agreements - "Memoranda of Understanding"
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state page and email AICE with
any additions or changes.
Oklahoma Government Missions to Israel top
February 2011 - Senator Jame Inhofe
led a group of more than 10 US legislators from six different states
on a tour of US military personell in the Horn of Africa and Israel.
In Israel, the group met American and Israeli security officials to
discuss collaborative efforts at combatting terrorism and other such
August 2003 - Governor Brad Henry
led a delegation that included various senior government officials,
Jewish community leader and businesspeople from around Oklahoma on a
mission geared towards expanding Israel-Oklahoma ties in the fields
of finance, agriculture, education and culture. While there, Gov Henry
met with Israeli officials, including Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and
also addressed a security and counter-terrorism conference in Tel Aviv.
The U.S.-Israel relationship is based on the twin
pillars of shared values and mutual interests. Given this commonality of
interests and beliefs, it should not be surprising that support for Israel
is one of the most pronounced and consistent foreign policy values of the
It is more difficult to devise programs that capitalize
on the two nations' shared values than their security interests;
nevertheless, such programs do exist. In fact, these SHARED VALUE
INITIATIVES cover a broad range of areas, including the environment,
science and technology, education and health.
As analyst David Pollock noted, Israel is an advanced country with a population that surpassed eight million people in 2013 and a robust, dynamic economy that allowed it to join the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). Between 2005 and 2013, Israel has represented a larger market for U.S. exports than Saudi Arabia. Although Israel's citizenry make up just 3 percent of the total region's population, Israel accounts for 25 percent of American exports in the Middle East.
"It has also been one of the top 20 foreign direct investors in the United States since 2009," Pollock confirms. He adds that "$2.25 billion of the $3 billion in annual U.S. aid to Israel comes back via Israeli purchases of U.S. military equipment - and that is just 5 percent of the total bilateral trade each year."
Today's interdependent global economy requires that
trade policy be developed at the national and state level.
Many states have recognized the opportunity for realizing
significant benefits by seeking to increase trade with Israel. Oklahoma is one of 33 states that have cooperative
agreements with Israel.
In 2012, Oklahoma exported over $57,341,000 worth
of manufacturing goods to Israel. Since 1996, Oklahoma exports to
Israel have totaled more than $276,324,588 and Israel now ranks as Oklahoma’s 28th leading trade partner.
Additionally in 2012, Oklahoma received more than
$640,845.00 in foreign military financing (FMF) for US military aid
to Israel. Some of those companies that have received funding through FMF in 2012 or past years
are: Starline Inc. in Bethany, OCV Control Valves in Tulsa and Overbilt Trailer Co. in Drumright.
Israel is certainly a place where potential business
and trade partners can be found. It can also be a source, however, for
innovative programs and ideas for addressing problems facing the citizens
Israel has developed a number of pioneering education programs. For example, AICE introduced an innovative Israeli
peer tutoring program to North Carolina that educators adapted for use
in the United States. Now known as Reading Together, the program is
used in 28 states. The program is designed to help students achieve
reading fluency and is mostly used for children in second grade. The
hope is that with its implementation, increasing numbers of students
will perform at grade level or above.
A range of other exciting approaches to social problems
like unemployment, environmental protection and drug abuse have been
successfully implemented in Israel and could be imported for the benefit
The potential for greater cooperation with Israel for
the benefit of Oklahoma is limited only by the imagination.
Firms Profit From Business With Israel
As the only country with free trade
agreements with both the United States and the European
community, Israel can act as a bridge for international
trade between the United States and Europe. Moreover,
because of the deep pool of talent, particularly in
high-technology areas, Israel provides excellent investment
opportunities. Some of the nation's largest companies,
such as IBM, Microsoft, Motorola, Intel and McDonald's
have found that it is profitable to do business in
Many Oklahoma companies have discovered
the benefits of doing business in Israel, including Altec
Lansing and Kerr-McGee Chemical. One, L.S.B. Industries of
Oklahoma City, has a subsidiary in Israel. Senior Vice President
Rami Mitzlav said he suggested the company consider operations
in Israel in the early 1980's. "I said that Israel had
a pool of talent that could do very good and inexpensive
research and development." The company, which makes
parts for air-conditioning equipment, subsequently established
an R&D operation in Tel Aviv and later an electronics
factory to produce components for its environmental division.
Mitzlav said the company is "very happy" with the
In 1992, Gov. David Walters led a delegation to Israel
that resulted in a deal, between shopping cart manufacturer Unarco and
Israel's largest supermarket chain. Now, Oklahoma City-based Unarco sells
throughout Israel and, according to recently retired CEO Marvin Weiss, it
has been a very successful venture.
"We have a very good relationship with
Israel," said Michael McDonnell, Vice President of Marketing for
Kerr-McGee Chemical Corp. in Oklahoma City. The company sells chemicals to
Israel, including one used for paint and elastics.
Similarly, Ken Williams of Electro-Enterprises
in Oklahoma City, said his company has successfully marketed
military-style connectors that can be used for aircraft maintenance.
One good way to break into the Israeli market is through
a joint venture with an Israeli company. Funding for such projects is
available from the Binational
Industrial Research and Development Foundation (BIRD). BIRD funds projects in 36 states and the District of
Columbia and hundreds of companies including AOL, GE, BP Solar, Texas
Instruments and Johnson & Johnson have benefitted from BIRD grants.
The United States and Israel established BIRD in 1977
to fund joint U.S.-Israeli teams in the development and subsequent commercialization
of innovative, nondefense technological products from which both the
Israeli and American company can expect to derive benefits commensurate
with the investments and risks. Most grant recipients are small businesses
involved with software, instrumentation, communications, medical devices
Since its inception, BIRD has funded more than 800
joint high-tech R&D projects through conditional grants totaling
more than $210 million. Products developed from these ventures have
generated more than $8 billion in direct and indirect revenues for both
countries and has helped to create an estimated 20,000 American jobs.
Dr. Eli Opper, the former Israeli chair of BIRD, has
said that BIRD is a strong pillar of US-Israel industrial
cooperation and that the extreme success of BIRD has
led Israel to adopt similar models of R&D with other countries.
Oklahoma companies have shared nearly $40,000 in BIRD grants since 1980.
Two Oklahoma companies received BIRD grants in the 1980's. In was not until 1995, that another firm took
advantage of the opportunity BIRD offers to reduce
the risk of new ventures and tap into the deep pool of Israeli talent.
That company, Limco-Airepair, is now working on the development of an
environmentally friendly air-conditioning system.
Oklahoma researchers are making scientific breakthroughs
and developing cutting-edge technologies in joint projects with Israeli
scientists thanks to support from the Binational
Science Foundation (BSF). BSF was established in 1972 to promote scientific relations
and cooperation between scientists from the United States and Israel.
The fund supports collaborative research projects in a wide area of
basic and applied scientific field for peaceful and non-profit purposes.
Since its inception, BSF has awarded some $480 million
through more than 4,000 grants in 45 states and the District of Columbia.
BSF-sponsored studies are highly successful
in achieving their two main goals: strengthening the US-Israel partnership
through science and promoting world-class scientific research for the
benefit of the two countries and all mankind. The BSF grants help extend research resources to achieve milestones that might
not otherwise be attainable; introduce novel approaches and techniques
to lead American researchers in new directions; confirm, clarify and
intensify research projects; and provide unmatched access to Israeli
equipment, facilities and research results that help speed American
scientific advances. BSF has documented no less than
75 new discoveries made possible by its research grants and counts 37
Nobel Prize and 19 Lasker Medical Award laureates among its joint partners.
Institutions in Oklahoma have shared with their counterparts
in Israel nearly $400,000 in BSF grants awarded since
1996 alone. Research projects led by professors at the University of
Oklahoma and Oklahoma State University have received the majority of
OSU's Steven McKeever and his Israeli colleague were
among the first to develop a new material to help measure the amount of
radiation absorbed by the body. "It is important to have more and more
sensitive dosimeters," McKeever said, "so we can know how much
radiation people are exposed to from environmental pollution, and in places
like hospitals and nuclear submarines.
"The BSF grant," he added,
"gave me access to material, which at the time was available only
in one place besides Israel. It also allowed me to exchange ideas with
people who are leaders in the field.
Paul Devlin is a physical chemist at OSU who studies the
structure and behavior of icy materials. The research, he said, has
important implications for the study of astrophysics. Ice is also viewed
as a catalyst to ozone hole formation, according to Devlin, so
understanding how molecules react with ice can help explain things like the
reaction of freon gas with ozone.
Devlin's experimental bent complements his collaborator's
theoretical focus. Sometimes her ideas lead the research and sometimes
mine do. One of the benefits of the BSF grant is it
allows us to meet and hammer things out as well as discuss where we're
Other projects involve basic science research and may
have no applications. The University of Oklahoma's Michael Engel is
interested in the alteration of organic material in the earth's crust.
Claims are sometimes made, he said, that the DNA of a dinosaur has been
found in a fossil. Engel and his colleague successfully tested a new method
for using isotopes to determine if such DNA could indeed be that of the
The BSF grant gave me access
to samples from the Negev that I wouldn't have otherwise had,
BSF-sponsored studies benefit the
United States by extending research resources to achieve milestones
that might not otherwise be attainable; introducing novel approaches
and techniques that can lead American researchers to move in new directions;
confirming, clarifying and intensifying research projects; providing
access to Israeli equipment and facilities and early access to Israeli
research results that speed American scientific advances.
In 1978 the United States and Israel jointly created
the Binational Agricultural
Research and Development Fund (BARD)
to help fund programs between US and Israeli scientists for mutually
beneficial, mission-oriented, strategic and applied research into agricultural
problems. Since its inception, BARD has funded more
than 1,000 projects in 45 states and the District of Columbia with a
total investment of more than $250 million. In 2000, an independent
and external economic review of 10 BARD projects conservatively
projected more than $700 million in revenue by the end of 2010, a number
which far outweighs the total investment in all BARD projects over its 33 year existence and helps to continually strengthen
Most BARD projects focus on either increasing agricultural
productivity, plant and animal health or food quality and safety and
have been influential in creating new technologies in drip irrigation,
pesticides, fish farming, livestock, poultry, disease control and farm
equipment. BARD funds projects in 45 states and the
District of Columbia and at present is beginning to administer collaborative
efforts between Australia, Canada and Israel as well. It is difficult
to break down the impact on a state-by-state basis, but overall, BARD-sponsored
research has generated sales of more than $500 million, tax revenues
of more than $100 million and created more than 5,000 American jobs.
Oklahoma institutions have shared grants worth more
than $540,000 since 1979.
A major problem for Oklahoma is the infestation of
cattle with ticks, which cause production losses and the animals to lose
weight. Elsewhere, particularly Africa, ticks transmit Lyme and other
diseases. Ticks are second only to mosquitoes as transmitters of disease to
humans No natural means of controlling them exists and the ticks are hard
to kill. Oklahoma State's Katherine Kocan has been working with an Israeli
expert on microscopic worms in the soil called nematodes to develop a
biocontrol for ticks. Their research has demonstrated the nematodes can
kill ticks and this could lead to a means of controlling the pests.
The BARD grant helped broaden
my horizons, Kocan said. I'm doing fascinating research
with incredibly intelligent, caring people. And the research could lead
to the control of parasites that would benefit the world.
Bill Shelton of the University of Oklahoma is working
under his second BARD grant in aquaculture. His first
project led to the development of new methods to control breeding of
Talapia, an important food fish. His most recent research relates to
breeding carp. Using genetic engineering, he has been able to enhance
and select the color of fish. This is important to the Israeli fish
farming industry, which exports ornamental fish like koi.
Though Oklahoma has no aquaculture industry, Shelton
says the State benefits because he has an opportunity to interact with
international researchers and that helps enhance the university's prestige.
BARD provides an important mechanism for interacting
Oklahoma also benefits from BARD research
done elsewhere. For example, BARD grantees have done
research indicating carbon-dioxide may be a nontoxic alternative to
pesticides currently used on stored grains like wheat.
Another project identified a type of fungus that protects
wheat and increases crop yields. Still another innovative approach involved
using dye sensitizers that react with sunlight to break down pesticides
used for crops like sorghum. The BARD treatment protects
crops and also reduces water contamination.
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AICE with any additions, modifications, updates or comments.
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UJA Partnership 2000
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