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State-to-State Cooperation: Hawaii and Israel













Trade and Population Statistics

Exports to Israel (2023)


      Percentage Change (2022-2023)


      Total Exports to Israel (1996-Present)


Israel’s Trade Partner Rank (2023)


Hawaii’s Rank as Exporter to Israel (2023) 53
Military Contracts with Israel (2015)


Jewish Population (2023)


      Jewish Percentage of Population



Binational Foundation Grants

Agricultural Research & Development (1979-Present)


Science & Technology (1999-Present)


Industrial Research & Development (1977-Present)


Total Binational Grants



Grant Recipients in Hawaii from U.S.-Israel Binational Foundations

Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology
University of Hawaii
USDA Agricultural Research Center

Bilateral Institutions

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Cooperative Agreements

In October 2022, Gov. David Ige and the Consul General of Israel in Los Angeles, Dr. Hillel Newman, signed a Joint Declaration establishing a strategic partnership for friendly exchanges and cooperation between Hawaii and Israel. The Joint Declaration establishes a formal relationship between both governments “to foster economic cooperation, facilitate joint industrial research and development, and enhance business relationships, research, and educational opportunities.”

The State of Hawaii Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism and the University of Hawaiʻi will work with foundations and the private sector to facilitate collaborations.

Key sectors for professional and educational exchanges are renewable energy technologies; climate change, sea-level rise, and resilience; water, agriculture, and food security; cybersecurity; marine science; technology innovation; civics; arts; academic exchanges; and nature preserves.

In December 2008, Governor Linda Lingle and Shai Agassi, founder and CEO of Better Place, announced the signing of a memorandum of understanding that is centered on a plan to bring an electric-car network to Hawaii, thus creating a model for the adoption of electric cars in the U.S. The move – only the second of its kind announced in the nation – will help fuel Hawaii’s drive to lead the nation in renewable energy use and create jobs locally, while also helping to secure our energy future. “Attracting investments into the state is a major component of our Five-Point Action Plan to help stimulate the economy,” said Governor Linda Lingle during a celebratory press conference. “Today’s announcement is a significant move towards our state gaining independence from foreign oil.” 

In May 2004, as part of her mission to Israel, Governor Linda Lingle signed a memorandum of understanding between the state of Hawaii and Israel to encourage cooperation concerning agriculture and aquaculture research and development. This historic agreement was signed with Israeli Minister of Agriculture Israel Katz in a ceremony in Beit Dagan. It is a direct bilateral agreement with Israel to foster cooperation in the areas of agriculture and aquaculture research and development.

Hawaii Government Missions to Israel

January 2012 - Senator Daniel Inouye traveled to Israel with Senators Thad Cochran (R-MS) and Barbara Mikulski (D-MD). He told high school students in Jerusalem that the U.S. takes the threat of an Iranian attack on Israel very seriously. “We in the U.S. are deeply concerned with the activities in Iran. If the Iranians should ever develop a nuclear device or bomb, that could mean the end of the world as we know it in the Middle East. It would have an impact on all countries, not just Israel. As a result, our position is that if you attack Israel, you are attacking the United States,” he said. 

May 2004 - Linda Lingle, the Jewish Republican governor of Hawaii, led an agricultural and trade mission as her first trip to Israel. In Israel, Gov Lingle met with senior Israeli government officials, including Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, and she also visited the Negev Desert, where she discussed issues in higher education. Though this was only her first trip to the region, Gov. Lingle made an instant connection. “We’re both isolated,” said Gov. Lingle, “We’re isolated by water; they’re isolated by unfriendly neighbors.” 

Partners For Change

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.

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. Hawaii is one of 33 states that have cooperative agreements with Israel.

In 2023, Hawaii exported nearly $12,000 worth of manufacturing goods to Israel. Since 1996, Hawaii’s exports to Israel have totaled more than $12.4 million, and Israel now ranks as Hawaii’s 94th leading trade partner. Hawaii ranks 53rd among all states in exports to Israel.

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 Hawaii.

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.

Hawaii institutions have also received almost $1.7 million worth of grants from binational U.S.-Israel foundations for joint research in science, agriculture, and the promotion of commercial ventures.

A variety 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 of Americans.

The potential for greater cooperation with Israel for the benefit of Hawaii is limited only by the imagination.

Hawaii 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.

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.

At present, no Hawaii companies have taken advantage of the opportunities and reduced risks offered by grants through BIRD.

Scientific Innovations

Hawaii 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.

Hawaii institutions have received more than $200,000 in BSF grants.

Agriculture Benefits

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 Hawaii has received grants worth more than $1.4 million.

Other Cooperative Programs

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Sister Cities

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State Contacts

Hillel Campus Profiles

Pacific Basin­Israel Chamber of Commerce
1290 Maunakea St., Bldg. D
Honolulu, HI 96817-4195
Tel. 808-596-2448
Fax. 808-596-7939
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).
“Hawaiʻi And Israel Enter Strategic Partnership For Cultural, Educational, And Economic Exchanges,” Office of the Governor, (October 25, 2022).