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State-to-State Cooperation: Iowa 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)


Iowa’s Rank as Exporter to Israel (2023) 37
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 Iowa From U.S.-Israel Binational Foundations

Ames Laboratory
Iowa State University
Pioneer Hi-Bred International
University of Iowa
University of Iowa Medical School
University of Northern Iowa
USDA National Soil Tilth Lab
U.S. Dept. of Energy Ames Lab

Bilateral Institutions

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Fighting BDS

Iowa HF-2331 was signed into law by Governor Terry Branstad on May 10, 2016, after being approved in April 2016 by the State Senate and February 2016 by the State House of Representatives. The law makes it illegal for a public entity in the state of Iowa to invest or enter into a contract worth over $1,000 with a company that boycotts Israel. In 2022, the anti-boycott legislation was expanded to include wholly-owned subsidiaries, majority-owned subsidiaries, parent companies, or affiliates

Cooperative Agreements

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Iowa Government Missions to Israel

July 2010 - State Senator Shawn Hamerlinck (R-Dixon) went on a peace-keeping trip to Israel sponsored by the American Council of Young Political Leaders. R

September 2017 - Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds traveled to Israel for a 10-day trade mission coordinated by the Iowa Economic Development Authority.  Representatives from Iowa businesses accompanied the Governor on tours of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, and two Memorandums of Understanding were signed between government representatives. Governor Reynolds met with Prime Minister Netanyahu during the trip as well. Governor Reynolds had previously visited Israel as Lt. Governor in 2016.  

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. 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 for realizing significant benefits by seeking to increase trade with Israel. Iowa is one of 33 states that have cooperative agreements with Israel.

In 2023, Iowa exported more than $42 million worth of manufacturing goods to Israel. Since 1996, Iowa’s exports to Israel have totaled more than $1 billion, and Israel now ranks as Iowa’s 40th leading trade partner. Iowa ranks 37th among all states in exports to Israel.

Additionally, in 2015, Iowa companies received $1.6 million in foreign military financing (FMF) for contracts to provide materiel for the Israeli Defense Forces. Since 1996, Iowa companies have received more than $17 million in FMF. These include Fairfield Aluminum Castings Company in Fairfield and Vermeer Manufacturing in Pella.

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 Iowa.

Israel has developed several 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.

Iowa has also received more than $4.6 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 Iowa is limited only by the imagination.

Iowa 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.

Many Iowa-based companies have also discovered the benefits of trade with Israel, including giants like Rockwell International, Amana Refrigeration, and the Aluminum Company of America.

Rockwell’s Cedar Rapids offices have long been selling military and civilian products to Israel. Currently, for example, Israel’s military is buying navigation and communications equipment. Rockwell also subcontracts some of its defense work to Israeli companies. The commercial division exports avionics packages for Israeli business jets.

The Instrument and Life Support Division of Litton Systems has also exported to the Israeli Air Force. Their products include onboard oxygen-generating systems. Recently, Israeli Air Force officers came to Davenport for training in the use of onboard inert gas operating systems on the AH-64 Apache helicopter.

Cemen Tech of Indianola was chosen by the Israeli Air Force to design a rapid runway repair system. The first machine has been delivered and the company is hoping the Israelis will order several more. Company President Gary Ruble said doing business with Israel was a “terrific experience. We just want more of it.”

Another company that has done well in Israel is Des Moines-based Hicklin Engineering, which has been doing business there for at least a decade. Sales Engineer Jack Campbell said the company has most recently sold equipment used to test transmissions in military vehicles.

Iowa companies have also successfully marketed nonmilitary goods in Israel. Cedar Falls-based Viking Pump, for example, has a distributor in Israel and has been selling industrial pumps and parts used there for at least two decades. And Amana Refrigeration has kept an ongoing business relationship with Israel for over thirty years, selling household refrigerators and commercial microwaves through its distributor 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.

In 2011, the BIRD Foundation awarded its first grant to an Iowa-based company when they selected Pioneer Hi-Bred International, out of Johnston, to work with the Israeli company Evogene to develop soybean varieties tolerant to foliar diseases. Iowa companies have received nearly $650,000 in BIRD grants.

Scientific Innovations

Iowa 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.Iowa institutions have received grants worth nearly $800,000 from BSF grants. The U.S. Department of Energy Ames Lab, University of Iowa, and Iowa State are among the recipients.

Ralph Ackerman is a zoologist at Iowa State who has collaborated on three BSF grants with a colleague in Tel Aviv. His focus is on the physiology of vertebrate eggs and embryos. Ackerman studied lizards in the Israeli desert to learn more about their development. He believes obtaining a better understanding of how their eggs exchange water and carbon dioxide will aid efforts to breed and conserve reptiles. “I don’t have much chance to work with reptiles in Iowa,” he said, so the BSF grant gave him an opportunity to study them in the field. “They have a great lab at Tel Aviv University and world-class reptologists.” He described the information he gained from the collaboration as “priceless.”

Iowa State chemist Jim Espenson had a common research interest with a professor at Ben-Gurion University and suggested applying for a BSF grant. They examined reactions of metal compounds. The study provided a new way to make organometallic compounds and a better understanding of the chemistry related to free radical molecules. Espenson said his collaborator’s interest complemented his own and that the give-and-take helped refine their thoughts. Each also had access to techniques the other lacked, so both researchers benefitted.

Much of the BSF research is at a basic level so the applications are not immediately apparent. This is particularly true of the work of mathematicians. Paul Muhly studies operator algebras at the University of Iowa. The math is complex, but, he said, the construct underlies modern physics. Explanations for why water boils and some other liquids freeze, as well as the electromagnetic forces in nature, are based on the type of math explored by Muhly. It also plays a role in the design and control of systems, for example, figuring out how to keep an airplane flying.

“We make a good team,” Muhly says of his collaborator from the Technion. “We’ve written about 20 papers together. Mathematicians need few resources; however, the ability to talk face to face and exchange ideas is essential and the BSF grant allows us to travel to do that.”

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.

Iowa institutions have received grants worth more than $3.2 million.

Supported by BARD funds starting in 2009, scientists Russel Jurenka from Iowa State University and Ada Rafaeli from the Volcani Center in Israel started to characterize the night-flying moth’s pheromone release system. They are currently working on identifying the binding site smf gene of these moths to better understand what molecular interactions occur during activation of the hormone.

The researchers anticipate that their interdisciplinary research will generate innovative, specific, and biologically safe insecticide compounds that can prevent female moths from producing sex pheromones and, therefore, can help farmers control the insect population.

The BARD funds have enabled Dr. Jurenka to study the corn earworm, one of the most devastating pests for U.S. agriculture, while simultaneously collaborating on findings with Dr. Rafaeli, who is studying the cotton bollworm, one of the most devastating pests in Europe and Asia. Their findings could provide an environmentally favorable way to control these pests and, therefore, could be a huge benefit to the agriculture fields in many countries.

Don Reynolds is investigating a disease that afflicts turkey poults. By comparing data from Israel, it was possible to determine the cause was not related to the origin of the birds. He and his collaborator characterized infections that had not been discovered before and hope to find a way to prevent the disease.

If one-hundred units of water fall on arid lands and half are lost through evaporation, crop production is limited. Jerry Hatfield is studying ways of modifying the soil surface to capture more water. Working with his Israeli counterpart, Hatfield says, gives him access to different arid land types and a better understanding of them. He also finds that contact with scientists in different environments broadens his perspective. He called the collaboration “extremely beneficial” and observed that Iowa can benefit from what they learn about water conservation.

Another study examines the impact of agricultural production on groundwater quality. Stanley Johnson is concerned with maintaining farming efficiency while maintaining water quality, so it meets the requirements of the Clean Water Act. He has looked at crop rotation and different applications of water. Johnson is pleased the BARD grant will strengthen institutional ties between Iowa State and Hebrew University. He believes it will also result in better agricultural research and stimulate interaction that will endure.

Donald Beitz is interested in the genetic material that determines variation in dairy cows. The research could have profound implications for understanding reproduction, health traits, and milk production and subsequently affect breeding value. Another application may be to learn more about diseases in livestock. One specific benefit of the BARD grant was to have Israeli researchers verify his results. More generally, it made possible greater scientific interaction, “and you can’t put a dollar value on this type of exchange,” said Beitz.

Researchers at Iowa State have also analyzed national dairy cattle records and shown that breeding for disease resistance is possible and that previous U.S. selection for milk production may have inadvertently reduced cow fertility. A computer program developed by the university is now routinely used to evaluate sires. Another project involves the study of intergenerational transfers by farmers, the performance of regional cooperatives, and the regulation of nitrogen pollution.

Iowa also benefits from BARD research done elsewhere. For example, BARD grantees are working on a virus that could protect corn from smut diseases.

Other Cooperative Programs

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Sister Cities

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UJA Partnership 2000 Communities



Des Moines

Western Galilee


State Contacts

Hillel Campus Profiles

American-Israel Chamber of Commerce (also covers Iowa)
6311 Wayzata Blvd., #240
Minneapolis, MN 55416-1224
Tel. 612-593-8666
Fax. 612-593-8668
Email. [email protected]

Jewish Community Relations Council
910 Polk Blvd.
Des Moines, IA 50312
Tel. 515-277-6321
Fax. 515-277-4069

Jewish Federation of Greater Des Moines
910 Polk Blvd.
Des Moines, IA 50312
Tel. 515-277-6321

Jewish Federation Of Sioux City
815 38th St
Sioux City, IA 51104-1417
Tel. 712-258-0618

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).
“Reynolds signs anti-BDS of Israel and antisemitism bills into law,” Iowa Torch, (March 24, 2022).