Among all the countries in the Middle East, only Israel has experienced the peaceful transfer of power by ballot--not bullet. We will never let Israel down.
The possibilities for future collaboration between Americans and Israelis are virtually limitless. Numerous government agencies, states and nongovernmental bodies might be matched with their Israeli counterparts to broaden the U.S.-Israel relationship, increase contacts between officials, exchange substantive information and facilitate the adoption of innovative ideas.
The principal obstacles to Shared Value Initiatives are a lack of imagination and money. In most instances, the existing memoranda of understanding have no money allocated for their implementation. What is required is not more foreign aid, but resources for joint ventures to serve American interests, particularly domestic ones. In general, Israel is prepared to pay its share of the costs involved in cooperative activities.
Before it is possible to import innovative Israeli ideas, it is necessary to identify those that could be most advantageous to the United States. One way to do this is to conduct Shared Value Enhancement Studies to investigate the potential benefits of cooperation in research, development, testing and evaluation. The Pentagon conducted a series of studies in security-related areas; similar research in nonmilitary fields could be done by the major government departments such as Education, Labor, Energy and Health and Human Services. The results would provide a catalogue of Israeli programs that could help America in each field.
Unfortunately, because of declining interest rates, the endowment of the Binational Agricultural Research and Development Foundation (BARD) has less money available for grants. The problem is exacerbated by the increasing number of proposals submitted in recent years. Israel is interested in committing more money to the endowment; by matching this amount, the United States can insure that more mutually beneficial collaborative projects can be undertaken.
Many Israeli experts take sabbaticals in the United States. They could be brought together for tours of rural communities to share their knowledge with local farmers. Israeli agriculturalists could also be invited to participate in workshops and panels by domestic farm organizations.
The Department of Education should renew the Memorandum of Understanding with the Israeli Ministry of Education that was originally signed in 1978 to encourage exchanges, and research new programs for the economically disadvantaged and the disabled, and the development of curriculum, teaching techniques and instructional materials dealing with the history, culture and society of each country. The agreement expired in 1984.
Israel has special expertise in the fields of bilingual, vocational, adult and special education that might be applied in America.
Children and Families
As the work done under the agreement between the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs and Department of Health and Human Services has demonstrated, Israel has a great deal to offer the United States in the field of labor and social services. These benefits are measurable and demonstrate the merit of creating an endowment to provide seed money for new programs. The Binational Labor And Social Service Foundation (BLSS) would be modeled on the Binational Research and Development Foundation (BIRD) program and be initially funded by equal contributions from Israel and the United States. The revenues generated by this endowment will support projects in the United States and Israel.
The creation of an Endowment for Defense Industrial Cooperation (EDIC) would encourage American and Israeli defense contractors to cooperate in the commercialization of defense technologies and civilian product endeavors. Toward this end, the program would support industrial matchmaking, feasibility studies, market analyses, data exchange, technological assessments, small-scale testing and research, conferences and other activities that may accompany the catalysis and creation of transnational joint ventures and teaming arrangements. EDIC would be modeled on the Binational Research and Development Foundation (BIRD) program and initially be funded by equal contributions from Israel and the United States. The revenues generated by this endowment will support the program's activities.
The two Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) with the Department of Energy expired in 1992. By renewing and expanding these agreements, and providing funding for their implementation, it will be possible for Israel to contribute to the Clinton-Gore objective of giving Americans greater control over America's energy future.
One specific program that might be a basis for rejuvenating the MOUs involves research into the use of liquid metal magnetohydrodynamic (MHD) power. The idea involves the conversion of thermal energy into electricity. The technology has both commercial and military applications. The pioneer in this work is a professor at Ben-Gurion University.
Israel has taken innovative approaches to the problem of enforcing environmental regulations. It has appointed specially trained environmental inspectors empowered to carry out searches and investigations, gather evidence, issue fines and prepare complaints. Public volunteer cleanliness trustees are used to report on litter offenses.
Israelis are world leaders in mariculture and are currently examining methods to increase ocean productivity.
One possible area where Israel may have lessons to teach is in prenatal and postnatal care. Israeli family health care clinics focus on the well-being of women during pregnancy and of children from birth to early childhood. The clinics offer prenatal examinations, early detection of mental and physical disabilities, vaccinations and health education. Approximately 80 percent of the newborn and 60 percent of the pregnant woman in Israel receive preventive service at family health centers. Approximately 90 percent of the children are immunized against diphtheria, thalamus and polio.
The National Institutes of Health have 21 different organizations that award grants. Many of these are in fields where Israel may have something to contribute, such as in drug abuse, cancer research and geriatric studies.
A U.S.-Israel Cooperative Medical Science Program modeled after a similar agreement with Japan might be signed to coordinate intensive research efforts on diseases important to the Middle East.
In 1966, President Johnson proposed an Exchange Peace Corps whereby people from foreign countries would come to the United States. Harris Wofford, then Associate Director of the Peace Corps, specifically raised the possibility of Israelis coming to work in our Job Corps camps, to work in our slum settlement houses and in community action programs. Another possibility might be to bring qualified Israeli doctors to rural American communities that lack adequate medical services.
Greater efforts can be made to educate American business about the opportunities created by the Free Trade Agreement and Israel's role as a bridge to Europe because of its FTA with the European Community. No other country has two such free trade agreements with the biggest markets in the world.
Israel can also help link American investors with countries in the Commonwealth of Independent States because the recent immigrants to Israel from those nations possess knowledge of the language, customs and mores of those societies.
Members of Congress have proposed the creation of an enterprise fund to promote private investment and enterprise in Israel and create jobs in America. According to one plan, American-owned businesses--or Israeli businesses that pledge to buy 50 percent of goods and services from the United States--receive loan guarantees from the fund to start operations in Israel. This proposal recommends that $2 billion be made available over three years for investment guarantees through the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC). American taxpayers would not be asked to pay anything. Sen. Alfonse D'Amato (R-NY) estimated that if only 40 percent of the $2 billion in new investments comes back to the United States as demand of new exports, 8,000 American jobs would be created.
The mission of the Trade and Development Program (TDP) is to promote American exports for major development projects overseas. This is done by financing feasibility studies for major industrial projects, orientation visits to the United States, training programs and conferences. Studies could be conducted in Israel.
A one-time legal exchange delegation, headed by the General Counsel of the Commerce Department, went to Israel in January 1992 to discuss trade and foreign investment opportunities. The delegation included senior U.S. attorneys from OPIC, the National Security Council, Securities and Exchange Commission, Federal Trade Commission and Department of Commerce as well as senior counsels from The Limited, Comsat, Martin Marietta and the Federal National Mortgage Association. This type of exchange could be institutionalized.
When a Middle East peace agreement is concluded, American companies already doing business in Israel will have a competitive advantage in the regional marketplace.
Because of the influx of hundreds of thousands of immigrants since the opening of the gates of Ethiopia and the former Soviet Union, Israel has faced a difficult challenge of insuring that every citizen has a home. Still, Israel does not have a problem of homelessness. Given the tremendous building drive to house immigrants and the extensive experience in urban development, Israel would be an ideal partner to share its experience with the United States.
As part of the United States housing loan guarantees provided to Israel in 1991, the Agency for International Development established a technical assistance office to focus on the establishment of a secondary mortgage market in Israel and examine the American experience with building codes and wastewater management.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development has agreements with Canada, Russia, Japan and Mexico for exchanges between officials. An agreement with similar provisions would make sense for Israel and the United States.
Every Israeli, men and women, serve in the military, men from age 18-21, women from 18-20. Men also serve approximately one month every year until age 55. During Israel's short history, it has fought six wars; many Israelis are veterans of more than one. Not surprisingly, Israelis share Americans' feeling of gratitude to those who have fought for their country and their commitment to the welfare of veterans. Israel could have a lot to contribute to American efforts to care for its veterans.
The Department of Veterans Affairs is one of the few major agencies that does not have a Memorandum of Understanding with a counterpart in Israel. Valuable information could be shared and joint research conducted under such an agreement.
The Department of Veterans Affairs' priorities include:
- Psychological impact of various types of warfare on veterans;
- Long-term effects of physical and psychological trauma on veterans;
- Impact of captivity on former prisoners of war;
- Diagnosis, treatment and prevention of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD);
- Spinal cord injuries;
- Sensory aids and prosthetics; and
- Veteran-owned rehabilitation centers.
Israel has experience in many of these areas. Most importantly, Israel has unique research on PTSD because a similar condition afflicts two different populations: war veterans and Holocaust survivors.
In addition, the Carmel Institute for Social Studies (formerly the Israeli Institute for Military Studies) engages in research projects of great interest to the Pentagon, such as the relationship between soldiers and their families, stress in battle, the psychological effects of intense artillery bombardment and the cumulative effects of recurrent war experiences.
Unfortunately, Israel has often been forced to adopt emergency measures. Even when there is no war, Israelis have to be prepared to take precautions at short notice. They can probably teach the United States how to prepare for manmade and natural disasters, particularly how to handle special situations such as protecting residential centers for the retarded, the aged, the disabled and children.
Israel has experience, because of wars and terrorism, in rescuing people from various places, such as collapsed buildings. Israeli rescue workers might know valuable lessons that could help Americans trying to save victims of natural disasters like earthquakes. Also, Israeli psychologists may have learned ways to treat victims and rescuers who are traumatized by their experiences that could be applicable here.
Largely because of the unfortunate experience of tank drivers caught in fires during combat, Israel has created special centers that are innovators in the treatment of burn victims.
The U.S. Geological Survey has agreements for cooperation in geological sciences with many countries. Some areas of cooperation include: mineral resources; energy resource assessment studies; regional geology and global change. The USGS has a good relationship with Israel and is amenable to signing such an agreement with its counterpart.
The United States and Israel share a concern for the preservation of endangered species and general wildlife conservation. By law, the Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) is supposed to determine the status of threatened and endangered species worldwide and to engage in programs with other countries to enhance the status of those species and their habitats. Cooperative activities include research, education and resource management.
An FWS official has proposed several ideas that would be mutually beneficial to Israel and the United States, including the creation of a regional wildlife conservation and management training institute to provide basic knowledge and practice in wildlife conservation and management; encourage basic and applied research in wildlife; enhance cooperation among different governmental and nongovernmental organizations and develop a cadre of well-trained personnel capable of using a wide range of advanced field methods.
One branch of the Department of Justice works on cases relating to terrorism. It could be useful for attorneys in the United States to consult with Israelis about differences in statutes relating to terrorism. For example, laws in one country may be more restrictive and the other could benefit from learning how authorities work within these laws.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms is responsible for handling bombs, tracing firearms and explosives, preventing arms smuggling, and, increasingly drug enforcement. Israel has experience in these areas that might make a formal relationship worth developing. For example, Israel has adopted the practice of using robots for bomb disposal. The United States still generally uses humans. In September 1992, the Fourth International Symposium on Analysis and Detection of Explosives was held in Jerusalem. Cosponsored by the Weizmann Institute and the Israel Police, scientists from more than 50 government bodies, academic concerns and law enforcement agencies, including the FBI, participated.
A Congress-Knesset Youth Exchange Program would strengthen ties between the successor generations of the United States and Israel. The relationships developed through this program will deepen each participant's understanding of the commonalities and differences in Israeli and American social, economic and political institutions. Also, it would enable Israeli and American families to extend their friendships across international boundaries and to relate to one another as members of the same world community. The program would be modeled on the Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchanges.
State and Local
Today 15 states have cooperative agreements with Israel. There is no reason programs cannot be established in all 50 states that focus on the unique needs of individual states and seek to build economic bridges between individual states and Israel. For these to be effective, however, states or institutions within those states (such as Jewish federations) must be prepared to commit resources to implement the agreements. In the best case, the Massachusetts example should be followed, whereby a state development office is established in Israel.
States might also consider the creation of their own foundations to fund research and development between their universities and businesses and those in Israel.
Also, new programs in states with existing cooperative agreements could be created. For example, Project Desert Bloom is a Center for Foreign Policy Options proposal for Israel-California environmental cooperation.
Regardless of whether a formal governmental agreement is signed, state-based chambers of commerce dedicated to increasing business opportunities with Israel can be created and expanded.