State-to-State Cooperation:
Oklahoma and Israel

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Oklahoma Jewish History



Trade and Population Statistics

Exports to Israel (2014)
      Percentage Change (2013-2014)
      Total Exports to Israel (1996-Present)
Israel's Trade Partner Rank (2014)
Military Contracts with Israel (2015)
Jewish Population (2015)
      Jewish Percentage of Population


Binational foundation grants shared by Oklahoma and Israel

Agricultural Research & Development (1979-Present)
Science & Technology (1996-Present)
Industrial Research & Development (1977-Present)
Total Binational Grants

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

Acme Engineering Corp.
International Environmental Inc.
Langston University
Limco-Airepair Inc.
Oklahoma State University
The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation
University of Oklahoma


Bilateral Institutions

Oklahoma-Israel Exchange -
The OKIE was created by Governor David Walters and became an official non-profit organization during the administration of Governor Frank Keating in 1997. Both Governor Brad Henry and incoming (as of December 2010) Governor Mary Fallin is a strong supporter of close ties between the two states. The mission of OKIE is described as “to foster enhanced cooperation between the peoples, governments, and private and public sectors of Oklahoma and Israel in culture, education, agriculture and commerce." Learn more about the Oklahoma-Israel Exchange, CLICK HERE.


Cooperative Agreements - "Memoranda of Understanding"

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Oklahoma Government Missions to Israel top

February 2011 - Senator Jame Inhofe led a group of more than 10 US legislators from six different states on a tour of US military personell in the Horn of Africa and Israel. In Israel, the group met American and Israeli security officials to discuss collaborative efforts at combatting terrorism and other such threats.

August 2003 - Governor Brad Henry led a delegation that included various senior government officials, Jewish community leader and businesspeople from around Oklahoma on a mission geared towards expanding Israel-Oklahoma ties in the fields of finance, agriculture, education and culture. While there, Gov Henry met with Israeli officials, including Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and also addressed a security and counter-terrorism conference in Tel Aviv.


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

In 2012, Oklahoma exported over $57,341,000 worth of manufacturing goods to Israel. Since 1996, Oklahoma exports to Israel have totaled more than $276,324,588 and Israel now ranks as Oklahoma’s 28th leading trade partner.

Additionally in 2012, Oklahoma received more than $640,845.00 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 are: Starline Inc. in Bethany, OCV Control Valves in Tulsa and Overbilt Trailer Co. in Drumright.

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 Oklahoma.

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 Oklahoma is limited only by the imagination.


Oklahoma 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 profitable to do business in Israel.

Many Oklahoma companies have discovered the benefits of doing business in Israel, including Altec Lansing and Kerr-McGee Chemical. One, L.S.B. Industries of Oklahoma City, has a subsidiary in Israel. Senior Vice President Rami Mitzlav said he suggested the company consider operations in Israel in the early 1980's. "I said that Israel had a pool of talent that could do very good and inexpensive research and development." The company, which makes parts for air-conditioning equipment, subsequently established an R&D operation in Tel Aviv and later an electronics factory to produce components for its environmental division. Mitzlav said the company is "very happy" with the Israeli connection.

In 1992, Gov. David Walters led a delegation to Israel that resulted in a deal, between shopping cart manufacturer Unarco and Israel's largest supermarket chain. Now, Oklahoma City-based Unarco sells throughout Israel and, according to recently retired CEO Marvin Weiss, “it has been a very successful venture.”

"We have a very good relationship with Israel," said Michael McDonnell, Vice President of Marketing for Kerr-McGee Chemical Corp. in Oklahoma City. The company sells chemicals to Israel, including one used for paint and elastics.

Similarly, Ken Williams of Electro-Enterprises in Oklahoma City, said his company has successfully marketed military-style connectors that can be used for aircraft maintenance.

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.

Oklahoma companies have shared nearly $40,000 in BIRD grants since 1980.

Two Oklahoma companies received BIRD grants in the 1980's. In was not until 1995, that another firm took advantage of the opportunity BIRD offers to reduce the risk of new ventures and tap into the deep pool of Israeli talent. That company, Limco-Airepair, is now working on the development of an environmentally friendly air-conditioning system.


Scientific Innovations

Oklahoma 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 Oklahoma have shared with their counterparts in Israel nearly $400,000 in BSF grants awarded since 1996 alone. Research projects led by professors at the University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State University have received the majority of this funding.

OSU's Steven McKeever and his Israeli colleague were among the first to develop a new material to help measure the amount of radiation absorbed by the body. "It is important to have more and more sensitive dosimeters," McKeever said, "so we can know how much radiation people are exposed to from environmental pollution, and in places like hospitals and nuclear submarines.

"The BSF grant," he added, "gave me access to material, which at the time was available only in one place besides Israel. It also allowed me to exchange ideas with people who are leaders in the field.

Paul Devlin is a physical chemist at OSU who studies the structure and behavior of icy materials. The research, he said, has important implications for the study of astrophysics. “Ice is also viewed as a catalyst to ozone hole formation,” according to Devlin, “so understanding how molecules react with ice can help explain things like the reaction of freon gas with ozone.”

Devlin's experimental bent complements his collaborator's theoretical focus. “Sometimes her ideas lead the research and sometimes mine do. One of the benefits of the BSF grant is it allows us to meet and hammer things out as well as discuss where we're going.”

Other projects involve basic science research and may have no applications. The University of Oklahoma's Michael Engel is interested in the alteration of organic material in the earth's crust. Claims are sometimes made, he said, that the DNA of a dinosaur has been found in a fossil. Engel and his colleague successfully tested a new method for using isotopes to determine if such DNA could indeed be that of the original dinosaur.

“The BSF grant gave me access to samples from the Negev that I wouldn't have otherwise had,” he said.

BSF-sponsored studies benefit the United States by extending research resources to achieve milestones that might not otherwise be attainable; introducing novel approaches and techniques that can lead American researchers to move in new directions; confirming, clarifying and intensifying research projects; providing access to Israeli equipment and facilities and early access to Israeli research results that speed American scientific advances.


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.

Oklahoma institutions have shared grants worth more than $540,000 since 1979.

A major problem for Oklahoma is the infestation of cattle with ticks, which cause production losses and the animals to lose weight. Elsewhere, particularly Africa, ticks transmit Lyme and other diseases. Ticks are second only to mosquitoes as transmitters of disease to humans No natural means of controlling them exists and the ticks are hard to kill. Oklahoma State's Katherine Kocan has been working with an Israeli expert on microscopic worms in the soil called nematodes to develop a biocontrol for ticks. Their research has demonstrated the nematodes can kill ticks and this could lead to a means of controlling the pests.

“The BARD grant helped broaden my horizons,” Kocan said. “I'm doing fascinating research with incredibly intelligent, caring people. And the research could lead to the control of parasites that would benefit the world.”

Bill Shelton of the University of Oklahoma is working under his second BARD grant in aquaculture. His first project led to the development of new methods to control breeding of Talapia, an important food fish. His most recent research relates to breeding carp. Using genetic engineering, he has been able to enhance and select the color of fish. This is important to the Israeli fish farming industry, which exports ornamental fish like koi.

Though Oklahoma has no aquaculture industry, Shelton says the State benefits because he has an opportunity to interact with international researchers and that helps enhance the university's prestige. “BARD provides an important mechanism for interacting with colleagues.”

Oklahoma also benefits from BARD research done elsewhere. For example, BARD grantees have done research indicating carbon-dioxide may be a nontoxic alternative to pesticides currently used on stored grains like wheat.

Another project identified a type of fungus that protects wheat and increases crop yields. Still another innovative approach involved using dye sensitizers that react with sunlight to break down pesticides used for crops like sorghum. The BARD treatment protects crops and also reduces water contamination.


Other Cooperative Programs

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Sister Cities:

OKALHOMA. . . . . . . . . .. . .. . . .. . . .. . . .. .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ISRAEL

Oklahoma City


UJA Partnership 2000 Communities:

OKALHOMA. . . . . . . . . .. . .. . . .. . . .. . . .. .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ISRAEL



State Contacts:

Hillel Campus Profiles

Department of Commerce
900 North Stiles
Oklahoma City, OK 73126-0980
Tel: 405-815-6552
Email: [email protected]
Sherwin Pomerantz, Israel Director
Oklahoma Department of Commerce
Oklahoma-Israel Exchange (OKIE)
c/o Atid EDI Ltd
Building 2, Har Hotzvim
POB 45005
91450 Jerusalem
Tel. 02-571-0199
Fax. 02-571-0713
Email: [email protected]
Oklahoma Israel Exchange
3907 E 79th Street
Tulsa, OK 74136
Tel. 918-492-4770
Fax. 918-491-6704
Email: [email protected]
Jewish Federation of Greater Oklahoma City
710 W. Wilshire Blvd. Ste. C
Oklahoma City, OK 73116-7736
Tel. 405-848-3132
Fax. 405-848-3180
Email. [email protected]
Jewish Federation of Tulsa
2021 East 71st St.
Tulsa, OK 74136
Tel. 918-495-1100
Fax. 918-495-1220
Email. [email protected]

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