Bookstore Glossary Library Links News Publications Timeline Virtual Israel Experience
Anti-Semitism Biography History Holocaust Israel Israel Education Myths & Facts Politics Religion Travel US & Israel Vital Stats Women
donate subscribe Contact About Home

State-to-State Cooperation: Illinois and Israel

Illinois Jewish History






Trade and Population Statistics

Exports to Israel (2017)


      Percentage Change (2016-2017)


      Total Exports to Israel (1996-Present)


Israel's Trade Partner Rank (2017)


Military Contracts with Israel (2012)


Jewish Population (2017)


      Jewish Percentage of Population



Binational foundation grants shared by Illinois and Israel

Agricultural Research & Development (1979-Present)


Science & Technology (1999-Present)


Industrial Research & Development (1977-Present)


Total Binational Grants



Grant recipients in Illinois from U.S.-Israel binational foundations:

Amcol International, Inc.
Argonne National Lab
Bio-Logic Systems Corp.
Display Technologies Inc.
Encyclopedia Britannica Educational Corp.
Eye Research Institute
Fermi National Accelerator Lab
Illinois Institute of Technology
Interactive Systems Corp.
Loyola University of Chicago
Loyola University of Chicago Medical
Molex, Inc.
Motorola Inc.
Northern Illinois

Northwestern Medical School
Siemens Medical Systems Inc.
Rush University, St. Luke's Medical Ctr.
Toyota Technological Institute
University of Chicago
University of Chicago Medical School
University of Illinois
University of Illinois Medical School
University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
USDA-ARS Plant Biology Lab
Wheelabrator Technologies Inc.
Wheelabrator Water Tech
Zenith Electronics Inc.


Bilateral Institutions

America-Israel Chamber of Commerce Chicago:
Founded in 1958, the AICC-C is tasked with developing business relationships between Illinois and Israeli companies. The not-for-profit trade association connects its members into a global network that provides vital information and facilitates business contacts. Members of the AICC-C include manufacturers, distributors, wholesalers, retailers, professional and business service providers, venture capitalists, investment bankers and R&D scientists. Over the years, hundreds of companies have found ways to grow their international trade. Read more about America-Israel Chamber of Commerce Chicago, CLICK HERE.

Chigago-Israel Business Initiative:
CIBI is a project of the America-Israel Chamber of Commerce (AICC) that seeks to leverage cooperation between the city of Chicago and the State of Illinois with the Israel Trade and Investment Center to encourage Israel-based businesses, looking to expand internationally, to locate their North American headquarters in the immediate Chicago area. CIBI works in numerous fields including Health and Life Sciences, Homeland Security and Telecommunications. Learn more about the Chicago-Israel Business Initiative, CLICK HERE.


Cooperative Agreements - "Memoranda of Understanding"

In March 2013, the University of Chicago and Israel's Ben-Gurion University of the Negev signed a Memorandum of Understanding to explore a research partnership that would create new water production and purification technologies for deployment in regions of the globe where fresh water resources are scarce. The ambitious research collaborations will apply the latest discoveries in nanotechnology to create new materials and processes for making clean, fresh drinking water more plentiful and less expensive by 2020. University of Chicago President Robert J. Zimmer and Ben-Gurion President Rivka Carmi both signed the MOU. Joint activities may include the exchange of visiting faculty members, researchers and students; the development of funding proposals for collaborative work; and the creation of innovative commercial technologies and new business ventures. Learn more about the partnership, CLICK HERE.

In June 2006 Illinois and Israel signed a Memorandum of Understanding committing both sides to enhancing homeland security cooperation. The MOU builds upon the already strong economic relationship between Illinois and Israel by creating a framework for the two sides to advance dialogue, trade, investment, and joint technology research and development in the homeland security sector. The initiative was launched by the Illinois Homeland Security Market Development Bureau, a government organization charged with attracting homeland security companies to the state, and the Israeli Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labor. Read more abou the MOU, CLICK HERE.

In 1988, Gov. James Thompson signed a Memorandum of Intent that created the Illinois-Israel Initiative, which calls for projects of mutual economic benefit through improved trade, technology development, science, agriculture and tourism.


Illinois Government Missions to Israel

November 2017 - Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner made his first official visit to Israel as Governor in early November 2017.  Rauner met Israeli PM Netanyahu for the first time during his trip, and the two discussed economic and cyber-security issues.  This was Governor Rauner's second time in Israel, he and his family had taken a vacation to the country in 2010.  One of Rauner's daughters enjoyed her experience in Israel so much that she returned later to work for a time on Kibbutz Lotan in the Negev.  

July 2011 - In a trip of goodwill and trade cooperation, Assistant Majority Leader Jeff Schoenberg, state Senator Ira Silverstein and Congressmen Jesse Jackson Jr. and Peter Roskam accompanied Governor Pat Quinn's delegation to Israel where they visited a Motorola Solutions facility and Better Place - an Israel-based organization developing charging stations for electric cars across Israel - and signed a "sister lakes" agreement between Lake Michigan and Lake Kinneret. The two officials also attended a ceremony at Ben Gurion University of the Negev for an agreement promoting exchange of faculty, research and other partnership between Ben Gurion and the University of Illinois-Chicago. Finally, the delegation met with high-ranking government officials in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. Read more, CLICK HERE.

July 2008 - In a buildup to the 2008 presidential elections, Senator Barack Obama made an official visit to Israel as part of a whirlwind tour in which the oval office-hopeful visited seven different countries. In Israel, Sen. Obama stressed how much he wants to work towards solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and used his short time in country to visit the southern Israeli city of Sderot which has been under constant rocket attack from Hamas in Gaza since the Israeli withdrawal in 2005. Read more, CLICK HERE.

June 2006 - A delegation led by members of the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity ran a trade mission as part of "Opportunity Returns", Gov. Blagojevich's comprehensive economic development strategy to create jobs and expand economic growth throughout Illinois. "This trade mission to Israel strengthened our already solid relationship with this key trading partner, providing an opportunity for Illinois companies to establish new trading partnerships in the robust homeland security sector with Israel’s leading science and technology providers. We are also pleased to have launched a business-focused fellowship program between Illinois and Israel that will help attract the best and the brightest from both countries in order to commercialize research, develop products and create jobs,” Gov. Blagojevich said. Read the Governor's Press Release on the trip, CLICK HERE


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

In 2012, Illinois exported over $267,654,091.00 worth of manufacturing goods to Israel. Since 1996, Illinois exports to Israel have totaled more than $3,834,918,432.00 and Israel now ranks as Illinois’s 8th leading trade partner.

Additionally in 2012, Illinois received more than $76,976,036.54 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 include: Caterpillar Inc. in Chicago, Honeywell in Chicago, and Siemens PLM Software Inc. in Carol Stream.

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 Illinois.

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 of Americans.

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


Illinois 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, Intel and Digital Equipment have found that it is indeed profitable to do business in Israel.

Roughly 200 Illinois companies have also discovered the benefits of trade with Israel. Several own interests in Israeli companies or have subsidiaries there, including American National Can Co., A Epstein & Sons International, Motorola, Bio-Logic Systems and Sara Lee.

Sara Lee, for example, has a minority interest in Delta Galil Industries, an underwear and sock manufacturer in Israel, and now distributes its clothing around the United States.

American National Can has for many years owned an interest in a company at a kibbutz near Haifa. Lageen Box Can Factory, Ltd. makes three-piece metal cans for fruits and vegetables.

High-tech giant Motorola has been in Israel for more than forty years. Some of the technologies developed by the company and now used worldwide, such as its fast, low-voltage 24-bit Digital Signal Multimedia Engine and Chipset for Fiber Optics Distribution Data Interface, originated in Israel.

The American-Israel Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Metropolitan Chicago provides information about trade opportunities and helps match Israeli and Illinois companies that are interested in cooperative ventures. One source of funds for such projects is the Binational Industrial Research and Development Foundation (BIRD).

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 and semiconductors.

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.

Several Illinois companies including Amcol International, Molex, Inc., Motorola, Bio-Logic Systems, Display Technologies, Interactive Systems, Encyclopedia Britannica, Wheelabrator Technologies, Siemens Medical Systems and Zenith Electronics have benefited from nearly $4.2 million in BIRD grants over the last three decades..

Gabriel Raviv of Bio-Logic said that his company has had two BIRD grants for joint ventures with its Israeli subsidiary to develop medical equipment. The most recent one resulted in the production of a new EEG product that has been doing so well the company will easily be able to repay the grant.

BIRD helps lower the risk for projects,” Raviv noted, making it easier for companies like his to take chances on developing new products.


Scientific Innovations

Illinois 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 Illinois have shared with their counterparts in Israel nearly $10 million in BSF grants awarded since 1996. The Universities of Chicago and Illinois, Northwestern and Northern Illinois are among the grant recipients.

In March of 2009 a study led by Dr. Mark Brand from the University of Illinois and Professor Aaron Avivi from the Institute of Evolution at the University of Haifa found that genetic mechanisms in subterranean mole rats can be targeted for development of anti-cancer drugs. Funded by BSF, the landmark discovery revealed that a mechanism mole rats have developed in order to survive the low oxygen levels in their underground habitats are similar to the mechanisms used by tumors to survive and progress in humans, and, if the gene is targeted correctly, could help in the discovery of specific anti-cancer drugs.1

The University of Chicago's Ronald Harvey is collaborating with a “first-rate chemist” at Hebrew University to investigate a molecule suspected of being a carcinogen, and its relationship to hydrocarbons. The research may add to the understanding of the connection between sources of hydrocarbons like cigarette smoke and car exhaust and causes of cancer.

Gene Robinson, a professor of biology at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, believes strongly in the character and importance of research sponsored by BSF in the states. He notes, "The BSF has been extremely successful in fostering significant scientific discovery... this program promotes scientifici excellence at the highest levels and I hope it continues to enjoy a high level of support from both Israel and the United States."

Another project with important implications for health is being conducted by Jim Grotberg at Northwestern. He and his collaborator are leading authorities on the fundamental mechanics of gas exchange in the lungs and the causes of wheezing and crackling sounds. Their research has laid the groundwork for understanding shortness of breath in people with asthma and emphysema. Grotberg does math modeling while his colleague at the Technion is an “outstanding” experimentalist in physiology. Their work has been especially useful in the development of treatments for infants with pulmonary problems.

James Norris of the Argonne National Lab and a Hebrew University colleague are using magnetic resonance to develop an understanding of the chemistry of photosynthesis. The significance of this work is clear, Norris explained, when you consider that food, coal, and petroleum are products of photosynthesis. The BSF grant has provided Norris with extra manpower for his lab and the opportunity to work with one of the world's experts in the use of liquid crystals.

Minerals & Refractories Ltd. (M&R) is an Israeli importer of refractories and ferro alloys to the heavy industry, as well as a consultant on the selection and application of these materials to the cement, fertilizers, oil refining, electric, and glass industries. M&R has been involved in engineering and installation of refractories in large scale projects in many of the heavy industries in Israel in which refractories are used. U.S.-based Vesuvius Corp. is one of the largest refractory manufacturers and suppliers in the world, as well as the largest monolithics producer in North America. The two companies jointly developed a complete integrative redesign of the refractory and insulating lining structure of various electrolysis cells and other vessels in the chemical industry. The project dealt simultaneously with the testing, development, selection and sometimes upgrade of highly durable refractory materials, as well as with structural and installation design of the lining. The project concept will be applied and tested first at the Dead Sea Magnesium (DSM) plant. The joint venture intends to offer its customers the on-going supply of relatively large, ready to install, pre-fabricated refractory lining building units of a cell, which will be engineered, cast, heat treated and delivered ready-to-install to the customer.

CMT Medical Technologies is an Israeli company specializing in digital radiography and digital fluoroscopy products. Illinois-based Richardson Electronics Ltd., (RELL) is a publicly held U.S. manufacturer of electronic components and subsystems for diagnostic medical imaging. The companies are collaborating to develop and market a product for upgrading medical X-ray radiography systems from film to state-of-the-art digital systems, based on flat panel detectors (FPDs). The upgraded system offers will offer all the advantages and performance of digital radiography, at a much lower price than completely new digital X-ray radiography systems.

Researchers at the University of Chicago teamed up with researchers from Ben-Gurion University in 2014 to begin work on a water scarcity project, aiming to make clean drinking water accessable to everyone in the world.  In 2012 University of Chicago based researcher Matthew Tirrell approached an old friend at Ben-Gurion University about working together on water scarcity research.  The Israeli team of scientists was sought out by Chicago University because of their hands-on experience dealing with water scarcity issues through technology.  Scientist from the University of Chicago Steve Sibener stated in an interview with the Chicago Tribune that water scarcity "Is the issue of the day.  Hundreds of millions of people are at risk of not having water".  Researchers from the two Universities are working on projects such as using a standard inkjet printer to apply contaminant-repelling chemicals to a water filter.  They are also using radioactive isotopes to track water movement in hopes of finding more hidden underground aquifers. 

The general benefits to the United States from BSF-sponsored studies include the extension and elaboration of research to achieve milestones that might not have been reached otherwise; the introduction of novel thinking and techniques that led American researchers to move in new directions; confirmation, clarification and intensification of research projects; access to Israeli equipment and facilities unavailable elsewhere and early access to Israeli research results that sped American scientific advances.

BSF documented 75 new discoveries that probably would not have been possible without foundation-supported collaboration. These advances included the development of new methods and techniques, the discovery of new phenomena and major theoretical breakthroughs.

Researchers from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) announced in April 2017 that they had produced a breakthrough in water filtration technology.  The team developed ultra-filtration membranes that can filter viruses of all sorts out of drinking water, including deadly norovirus.  Their findings were published in the first half of 2017 edition of the periodical Water Research.


Agriculture Benefits

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 the foundation.

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.

Illinois institutions have shared grants totalling more than $3 million since 1979, with the University of Illinois receiving the majority of these funds.

At Illinois, Harris Lewin is working on a project to identify genes in dairy cattle that control important traits like milk production. He calls the collaboration a "good marriage of expertise" between his work as an experimental geneticist and his colleague's quantitative research.

Another Illinois scientist interested in dairy cattle is starting his third BARD project. Sidney Spahr works in the only major U.S. program concerned with dairy automation. His first BARD grant involved the use of automation for data acquisition about cows, such as the measurement of milk yield. The second grant focused on integrating the data into a software management system. His current research focuses on the use of ultrasonics to develop a way of measuring a cow's body fat.

Spahr's work focuses on the biology of the problem, while the Israelis develop the technology. The collaboration is important because the United States has de-emphasized livestock engineering.

At the University of Chicago, Donald Steiner is studying growth hormones to see if they can be genetically engineered to grow fish faster for food. His collaborator is able to do things in her lab that Steiner can't, such as making the protein for use in the fish and analyzing the biological activity. “She works at the protein level,” he said, “and we're at the DNA/RNA level.”

The University of Illinois is also a member of the International Arid Lands Consortium, an independent nonprofit organization composed of four other universities, the U.S. Forest Service and the Jewish National Fund, which explores the problems and solutions of arid and semiarid regions. According to the director of the consortium, Israel is "by far the leading country" in the application of various technologies studied by the group.


Other Cooperative Programs

The University of Illinois is a member of the International Arid Lands Consortium, a Congress-funded independent, nonprofit organization established in 1989 that conducts research, develops applications in arid and semiarid land technologies, and applies its projects in countries around the world including the U.S. and Israel.


Sister Cities




Petach Tikva

Highland Park

Qiryat Gat


UJA Partnership 2000 Communities




Qiryat Gat - Lahish - Shafir

State Contacts:

Hillel Campus Profiles

4801 W. Peterson Ave., #315
Chicago, IL 60646
Tel. 312-685-5595
Fax. 312-685-2130
America-Israel Chambers of Commerce
180 North Michigan Avenue, Suite 911
Chicago, IL 60601
Tel. 800-645-3433 or 312-641-2944
Fax. 312-641-2941
Email: [email protected]
America-Israel Chamber of Commerce & Industry-Metropolitan Chicago
180 North Michigan Ave., #911
Chicago, IL 60601
Tel. 312-641-2937
Fax. 312-641-2941
Email. [email protected]
Sherwin Pomerantz,  Director
American-Israel Chamber of Commerce/Chicago
c/o Atid EDI Ltd
Bldg. 2, Har Hotzvim, P.O. Box 45005
Israel 91450
Tel. 2­571­0199
Elgin Area Jewish Welfare Chest
330 Division St.
Elgin, IL 60120
Tel. 708-741-5656
Illinois Department of Commerce and Community Affairs
c/o Atid EDI Ltd
Building 2, Har Hotzvim
P O B 45005, 91450 Jerusalem
Tel. 02-571-0199
Israeli Consulate
111 E. Wacker Dr.
Chicago, IL 60611
Tel. 312-565-3300
Fax. 312-565-3871
Jewish Community Center of Chicago
5050 West Church St.
Skokie, IL 60077
Tel. 708-675-2200 x152
Jewish Federation
520 S 2nd St.
Springfield, IL 62701-1735
Tel. 217-753-1010
Jewish Federation of Champaign-Urbana
503 East John St.
Champaign, IL 61820
Tel. 217-367-9872
Jewish Federation Greater Rockford
1500 Parkview Ave.
Rockford, IL 61107-1821
Tel. 815-399-5497
Jewish Federation of Metro Chicago
1 S. Franklin
Chicago, IL 60606
Tel. 312-761-1000
Jewish Federation Of Peoria
5901 N Prospect Rd.
Peoria, IL 61614
Tel. 309-689-0063
Jewish Federation Quad Cities
209 18th St
Rock Island, IL 61201-8706
Tel. 309-793-1300
Jewish Federation Of South Illinois
6464 W Main St #-7A
Belleville, IL 62223-3811
Tel. 618-398-6100
Jewish Federation of Springfield
730 East Vine St.
Springfield, IL 62703
Tel. 217-528-3446