State-to-State Cooperation: Alabama and Israel
Trade and Population Statistics
|Exports to Israel (2022)||
|Percentage Change (2021-2022)||
|Total Exports to Israel (1996-Present)||
|Israel’s Trade Partner Rank (2022)||
|Alabama’s Rank as Exporter to Israel (2022)||32|
|Military Contracts with Israel (2015)||
|Jewish Population (2022)||
|Jewish Percentage of State Population||
Binational Foundation Grants
|Agricultural Research & Development (BARD) (1979-Present)||
|Science & Technology (BSF) (1999-Present)||
|Industrial Research & Development (BIRD) (1977-Present)||
|Total Binational Grants||
Grant Recipients in Alabama From U.S.-Israel Binational Foundations
National Space Science Technology Center
Tennessee Valley Authority
University of Alabama
University of South Alabama
Conexx (formerly the American-Israel Chamber of Commerce Southeast Division) was established in 1992 as a non-profit, non-governmental agency serving Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, North and South Carolina, and Tennessee. It is committed to connecting Americans and Israelis through the vehicle of business. Conexx assists Israeli companies seeking U.S. market entry and American companies interested in the Israeli market. Conexx works with more than 140 Israeli companies in the Southeast and helps drive investments, deals, and employment gain in the region and in Israel. Since its inception, Conexx has been involved in completed transactions valued at over $1 billion, thereby contributing to the economies of both Israel and the Southeastern United States.
Alabama Governor Robert Bentley signed SJR-6 into law on February 16, 2016, after it had been unanimously passed by the state legislature the previous week. The legislation states that the activities of the BDS movement in Alabama are, “harmful to the State's relationships with Alabama's Jewish citizens,” and expresses unconditional support for Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state. The legislation goes on to, “unequivocally denounce and reject the international Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions Movement and any furtherance of this movement in this state.”
Governor Bentley signed the anti-discrimination bill SB81 on May 10, 2016, which prevents Alabama government entities from contracting with companies engaged in boycotting Israel.
On Governor Fob James, Jr.'s October 1997 trade mission to Israel, he signed a memorandum of intent agreement to improve trade relations, encourage investments and technology transfers and promote the exchange of ideas and company representatives, engineers, scientists, and other specialists between Israel and Alabama. As of 1997, Alabama has a trade representative in Israel.
Alabama Government Missions to Israel
September 2005 - Alabama House Speaker Seth Hammett and Neal Wade, director of the Alabama Development Office, led a trade and jobs mission to Israel that had been originally scheduled for Governor Bob Riley, though Gov. Riley could not attend due to outstanding circumstances regarding relief efforts after Hurricane Katrina. The goal of the mission was to help foster economic development and trade between Israel and Alabama and, in that vein, the mission toured commercial centers in Tel Aviv, an industrial park in Rosh Ha’Ayin, and a business incubator site in the Galilee. Though Gov. Riley was unable to attend, he was excited about the possibilities that this mission created. “This is a great opportunity to create new jobs for Alabamians,” Governor Riley said. “Our message is that Alabama is open for business and can offer much to Israeli industries and high-tech companies.”
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 American people.
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, technology, education, and health. States can benefit from Israeli innovations in these areas as well as through collaboration.
In addition, today’s interdependent global economy requires that trade policy be developed at the national and state level. Many states have recognized the opportunity to realize significant benefits by seeking to increase trade with Israel. Alabama is one of 33 states that have cooperative agreements with Israel.
In 2022, Alabama exported more than $51 million worth of manufacturing goods to Israel. Since 1996, Alabama’s exports to Israel have totaled nearly $1.3 billion, and Israel now ranks as Alabama’s 46th leading trade partner. Alabama ranks 32nd among all states in exports to Israel.
Additionally, in 2015, Alabama companies received nearly $1 million in foreign military financing (FMF) for contracts to provide materiel for the Israeli Defense Forces. Since 1996, that total is nearly $135 million. Some of those companies that have received funding through FMF in 2015 or past years include Vector Hawk Aerospace, LLC in Daleville and A-P-T Research, Inc in Huntsville.
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 of Alabama.
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.
Alabama has also received more than $3 million worth of grants from binational U.S.-Israel foundations for joint research in science, agriculture, and the promotion of commercial ventures.
A range of other exciting approaches to social problems, such as unemployment, environmental protection, and drug abuse, have been successfully implemented in Israel and could be imported for the benefit of Americans.
The potential for greater cooperation with Israel for the benefit of Alabama is limited only by the imagination.
Alabama 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 indeed profitable to do business in Israel.
Alabama Governor Fob James led a week-long 26-delegate trade mission to Israel in October 1997 to join what he labeled “a handful of states that already recognize the best opportunities for trade and economic development with Israel.” Alabama, nicknamed “the cotton state,” serves as the source of industrial equipment for Israeli cotton gins. The state has also begun to provide various kinds of equipment in railroad maintenance, material handling, and industrial waste-removal equipment.
At least 45 Alabama companies have discovered the benefits of doing business in Israel, including Windustrial, EBSCO, VME Microsystems, and Guzzler Manufacturing, Inc.
Anniston Windustrial is another company with long experience in Israel. For fifteen years, Windustrial has been a large supplier of military items to the Department of Defense. The DoD orders supplies, such as replacement parts, pumps, and water valves, which they then supply to allied countries, such as Israel. Windustrial has been supplying Israel with these parts for five years.
Troy-based Lockheed-Martin is collaborating with Rafael Military Industries to manufacture the Israeli-designed Popeye missiles. Rafael now seeks to serve as a subcontractor for Lockheed-Martin, who, in mid-April, won a $2 billion contract to manufacture American-designed JASSM cruise missiles for the American military.
Intergraph Israel Software Development Center (IISDC), a provider of IT solutions for process control, instrumentation, and electrical engineering, and Huntsville, Alabama-based Intergraph Corporation, a supplier of interactive computer graphics systems, have jointly developed SmartPlant Electrical, a new product that will provide its users with an integrated relational database engineering tool. Using a client-server environment, the software will enable engineers, technicians, and designers from operating plants and engineering companies dealing with electrical design to effectively and easily create, access, maintain, and deliver engineering documentation in a professional manner.
Guzzler Manufacturing Inc., a subsidiary of the Federal Signal Corporation, is a world-class producer of industrial solid and liquid waste-removal vehicles. A year ago, Guzzler established a dealership in Israel after becoming aware of Israelis' growing sensitivity to environmental issues that created a market for their tankers. In addition, Signal’s vehicle division succeeded in selling emergency vehicles from a sister firm in Florida to Israeli fire fighting services as well as to civilian and military airports. Guzzler is negotiating with a large number of potential customers, including Dead Sea Works, the Israel Electric Company, and regional water plants.
VME Microsystems International Inc. has been selling printed circuit boards for computers for the past several years. They got started in Israel through leads from trade shows. A spokesman from VME said that “business in Israel seems pretty good.”
EBSCO has been doing business in Israel for about thirty-five years, said Brenda Hamm of the international marketing and special services department. EBSCO is a subscription agency that works with libraries throughout Israel. The libraries order subscriptions through EBSCO, which then deals with the publisher and handles all of the customer service problems for the publisher. EBSCO initially began selling magazines door to door, and when they realized that there was a desire to learn, they branched out and became an international company. EBSCO is attracted to libraries worldwide, and based on their length of investment in Israel, they have been doing great business.
Ralph E. Buntyn, vice president of marketing at Birmingham-based Motion Industries Inc., the world’s largest distributor of bearings, transmissions, and hose products, went on the October 1997 trade mission with the governor. He told Link Magazine that Israel is “on the cutting edge of technological development in many fields,” however, developing ties will take time. For his company, “communication with Israeli parties continues,” but a partnership has yet to be finalized.
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). 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 companies can expect to derive benefits commensurate with the investments and risks. Most grant recipients are small businesses involved with software, instrumentation, communications, medical devices, and semiconductors.
Since 1977, the Foundation has approved investments of more than $125 million in more than 1,000 projects in 36 states and the District of Columbia. Hundreds of companies, including AOL, GE, BP Solar, Texas Instruments, and Johnson & Johnson, have benefited from BIRD grants.
Dr. Eli Opper, the former Israeli chair of BIRD, has said that BIRD is a strong pillar of U.S.-Israel industrial cooperation and that the extreme success of BIRD has led Israel to adopt similar models of R&D with other countries.
Over the last three decades, companies in Alabama have taken advantage of nearly $500,000 in BIRD grants to reduce the risk of new ventures and tap into the deep pool of Israeli talent.
Alabama 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 fields for peaceful and non-profit purposes.
Since its inception, and in today’s value, BSF has awarded over $700 million to more than 5,000 research projects involving thousands of scientists from more than 400 U.S. institutions located in 46 states, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia. Many of these projects have led to important scientific, medical, and technological breakthroughs with wide-ranging practical applications.
BSF-sponsored studies are highly successful in achieving their two main goals: strengthening the U.S.-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.
Alabama institutions, including Auburn and the University of Alabama, have received more than $769,000 in BSF grants since 1999.
In 1978, the United States and Israel jointly created the Binational Agricultural Research and Development Fund (BARD) to help fund programs between U.S. and Israeli scientists for mutually beneficial, mission-oriented, strategic, and applied research into agricultural problems. Since its inception, BARD has awarded more than $130 million to U.S. institutions for 1,352 joint projects. A 40-year review in 2019 involving 20 case studies estimated the foundation’s contribution to the U.S. economy at $2.7 billion. BARD research has resulted in the adoption of approximately 200 new agricultural practices, around 40 commercial engagements, and approximately 100 patents and breeding rights licenses.
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 administers 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.
The University of Alabama, Auburn University, Tuskegee University, and the Tennessee Valley Authority have received a total of 21 BARD grants worth more than $1.8 million since 1979.
Genetically improved farmed fish, advanced technology in cotton crops, and lean chickens are just a few examples of joint research projects conducted by Alabama and Israel through BARD.
Professor Rex Dunham of the Department of Fisheries at Auburn University has been an unofficial collaborator with Israel since 1968 and has received several BARD grants since 1979. Dunham has been extremely successful in his study of aquaculture genetics. The goal behind his project is to grow fish, such as catfish, carp, and Tilapia, faster to get them to market quicker. By studying selective breeding, growth rates have increased by about 50 percent. Neal Smitherman initiated the fish genetics program at Auburn, and because Israelis are the fathers of the field, and among the few aquaculture geneticists, they were obvious partners. Since then, Dunham said their friendship and collaboration have grown and solidified. Dunham added that his counterpart at Tel Aviv University, Boaz Moav, “is skilled in molecular genetics. We use some of their constructs. Two hands are better than one and discussing projects puts more heads and hands [together].”
Fish farmers use the new technology now to grow fish faster. The collaborators at Auburn University and Tel Aviv University are now working on new growth hormone constructs “to refine what we’ve done in the past,” said Professor Dunham.
Auburn's Joseph Kloepper received a BARD grant to do research in the area of biological control of plant diseases. In cooperation with Israel’s Hebrew University in Jerusalem, Kloepper and his Israeli counterpart tested bacteria to protect plants against diseases and studied how bacteria moved within plants. Although no immediate product resulted from this two-year study, their publications stimulated interest in the general area of controlling plant bacterial diseases and several companies expressed interest in using the findings of the research. Kloepper had a very good experience dealing with Israelis, noting “they are extremely well trained and Israel is a good place to do agricultural research.”
Alabama, one of the country's largest producers of cotton (total U.S. production exceeds $5 billion a year), also benefits from BARD research done outside of the state. Joint research resulting from a BARD grant has shaped the way cotton is grown today. BARD grantees from Israel and Mississippi developed and tested a computer model that would reduce the amount of water and fertilizer cotton farmers need to produce their crops. Their research resulted in an invention called COTMOD, which describes how water, soil, fertilizer, and farming practices affect cotton production. The model can also be expanded to predict the fate of pesticides and environmental contaminations as well. The USDA combined this model with two others and provide it, free of charge, to American farmers and agricultural consultants. By advising growers, such as those in Alabama, on optimal irrigation and fertilization strategies, the system can save farmers an average of about $60 per acre, or about $48 per bale.
Rift Valley Fever is a debilitating mosquito-born virus that infects cattle, sheep, and humans in many developing countries and is fatal in young lambs and calves. BARD grantees from the University of Alabama, Kimron Veterinary Institute in Israel, and the USAMRIID Lab in Fort Detrick, Maryland, have developed an RVF vaccine. The virus was harvested, grown, altered, regrown, and mutated until the virus was so genetically tailored that it was too weak to produce the actual illness, but still potent enough to induce a protective immune reaction. In addition to helping developing countries where RVF is common, the results from these studies also protect the $28 billion U.S. cattle-raising industry by preparing the U.S. for random but lethal outbreaks of this virus.
“Crash diets” are being found to be very useful for turkeys and chickens. Through these “crash diets,” the broilers produce mostly lean meat and not fat. This was discovered by BARD grantees in Israel and the U.S. In the end, everyone wins. The consumer gets leaner, more nutritious chickens and may lower their risk of arteriosclerosis, and the farmer gets a more efficient, profitable crop, including savings of 4-8 percent on feed alone. Alabama produces more than $500 million worth of broilers a year so this new farming and feeding technique means enormous savings for the state’s farmers.
A team of agricultural economists from the University of Maryland and the University of California found that the economic benefits of just five projects—related to cotton, pecans, and solarization—exceeded all U.S. investment in BARD. New projects promote increased quantity and improved quality of agricultural produce.
Other Cooperative Programs
McDonnell Douglas of Huntsville will share a $5.3 million grant from the U.S.-Israel Science & Technology Commission with three Israeli companies, Rotem, YEDA, and Ormat, for a joint project to develop a pilot solar power station that will produce electricity at competitive prices.
Since 1993, law enforcement professionals have traveled to Israel to study the counterterrorism techniques and emergency management methods of their Israeli counterparts as part of the Georgia International Law Enforcement Exchange (GILEE) program. This privately funded program run by Georgia State University has been providing law enforcement officers with global perspectives and unique training since 1992. Law enforcement officers from Alabama participated in the 2018 GILEE program and those from Georgia, North Carolina, and Tennessee participated in the 2019 program.
UJA Partnership 2000 Communities
Birmingham Jewish Federation
P.O. Box 130219
Birmingham, AL 35213
400 Northridge Rd #250
Atlanta, GA 30350
Jewish Federation of Montgomery
2421 Presidents Dr #16
Montgomery, AL 361161612
Mobile Jewish Welfare Fund
One Office Park, #219
Mobile, AL 36609
ExopExport Opportunities Ltd.
26 Usihshkin St.
Jerusalem, Israel 91077
Email: [email protected]
Sources: World Institute for Strategic Economic Research.
Binational Industrial Research and Development Foundation (BIRD).
United States-Israel Binational Agricultural Research and Development Fund (BARD).
United States-Israel Binational Science Foundation (BSF).