State-to-State Cooperation: Mississippi and Israel
Trade and Population Statistics
|Exports to Israel (2021)||
|Percentage Change (2020-2021)||
|Total Exports to Israel (1996-Present)||
|Israel’s Trade Partner Rank (2021)||
|Mississippi’s Rank as Exporter to Israel (2021)||37|
|Military Contracts with Israel (2015)||
|Jewish Population (2022)||
|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 Mississippi from U.S.-Israel Binational Foundations
Agricultural Res Service, Mississippi State
Gulf Coast Research Laboratory
University of Southern Mississippi
Conexx (formerly the American-Israel Chamber of Commerce Southeast Division) was established in 1992 as a nonprofit, 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.
The Mississippi legislature passed, and the governor signed on March 15, 2019, the Israel Support Act of 2019. The bill requires “the executive director of the Department of Finance and Administration to develop and publish a list of scrutinized companies that boycott Israel; to prohibit the public employees’ retirement system and the state treasurer from investing with companies on such list; to hold harmless officers, employees and agents of the retirement system and state treasurer’s office for claims arising from decisions to restrict investments under this act; and for related purposes.” In addition, any investments that the state has in businesses boycotting Israel were to be divested by July 1, 2020.
Mississippi Government Missions to Israel
January 2012 - Senator Thad Cochran (R) traveled to Israel with Senators Daniel Inouye (D-HI) and Barbara Mikulski (D-MD).
August 2011 - Congressman Steve Palazzo accompanied the 81-member Congressional delegation to Israel to learn more about regional politics and the U.S.-Israel relationship.
February 2011 - Governor Haley Barbour took a five-day tour of Israel and met with top Israeli government officials, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, as part of an effort to build his resume for a possible run for the presidency in 2012. Gov Barbour spoke at the Herzliya Conference, a prestigious Israeli conference on international security, and echoed Israel’s worries about the current Iranian regime. Additionally, Barbour stressed how important the American-Israeli alliance is to both countries. “Israel is the Holy Land of democratic faith,” Barbour said. “We’re with you, and we’re glad you’re with us.”
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. 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. Mississippi is one of 33 states that have cooperative agreements with Israel.
In 2021, Mississippi exported nearly $31 million worth of manufacturing goods to Israel. Since 1996, Mississippi’s exports to Israel have totaled more than $669 million and Israel now ranks as Mississippi’s 43rd leading trade partner. Mississippi ranks 37th among all states in exports to Israel.
Additionally, in 2015, Mississippi companies received more than $750,000 in foreign military financing (FMF) to provide materiel for the Israeli Defense Forces. Since 1996, Mississippi companies have received nearly $23 million in FMF. These include United State Marine in Gulfport and Navagis, LLC in Jackson.
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 Mississippi.
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.
Mississippi has also received more than $100,000 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 Mississippi is limited only by the imagination.
Mississippi Firms Profit From Business With Israel
In 2009, Israel Aerospace Industries moved certain production lines to Mississippi where the U.S. plant will manufacture and assemble drones - small, pilotless planes. In September 2018, Israel Aerospace Industries announced Stark Aerospace, based in Columbus, would begin producing canisters that contain electronic components used to transmit commands to Arrow 3 anti-ballistic missiles.
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 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 in more than 1,000 projects, which have yielded direct and indirect revenues of more than $10 billion. More than $125 million worth of grants has been approved for projects in 37 states and the District of Columbia.
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 Mississippi companies have taken advantage of the opportunities and reduced risks offered through the BIRD program.
Mississippi 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 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 Mississippi have not received any BSF grants to date.
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 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.
Institutions in Mississippi, such as the University of Mississippi and Mississippi State University, have shared BARD grants worth $101,000 with their counterparts in Israel.
Professors Larry Hanson and Shane Burgess at Mississippi State University received a three-year grant in 2007 for collaborative research in animal science. Together with Moshe Kotler of the Hebrew University’s Hadassah Medical School in Jerusalem, Professor Hanson and his research team used the grant to develop an effective vaccine to fight the cyprinid herpesvirus-3 (CyHV-3) virus, a major disease affecting the common carp fish.
This BARD-sponsored research is incredibly timely and important because the common carp is one of the most widely farmed freshwater fish species in the world- according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations more than 3.4 million tons of carp are harvested annually in Asia, the U.S. and Europe. The CyHV-3 virus, though, is causing massive losses to this industry because once infected, a carp fish is 80-100% likely to die within 6 to 22 days. The original goal of the project was to provide the scientific and technical basis for initiating certain breeding protocols in the common carp to make the fish more resistant to this viral disease.
In February 2011, Professor Hanson, together with Professor Eric Hallerman of Virginia Tech, published the results of the 3-year collaborative study and developed the vaccine which is already in use by Israeli fisheries. The BARD-supported research was important to find a sustainable solution to this problem that will also lead to the establishment of a genetic improvement program for the carp fish.
For such an important and timely project such as this, it was of utmost importance that all the researchers could work well together and complement each other’s skills. BARD facilitated excellent communication between the groups in Israel and the United States and the research was greatly promoted by this good exchange of materials, practices, and theory. Overall, the collaboration led to the publication of three joint studies in peer-reviewed journals, one that has been submitted for publication and yet another one that is in the process of preparation to be submitted for publication.
Other Cooperative Programs
Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant signed Senate Bill 2051 into law on March 27, 2018, which allowed the State Treasury to invest in the purchase of up to $20 million in Israel bonds. The law, which took effect on July 1, 2018, authorized the state to spend excess general funds on investment in Israeli bonds.
Hillel Campus Profiles
Jewish Federation of Jackson
5315 Old Canton Rd.
Jackson, MS 39211-4625
Goldring/Woldenberg Institute of Southern Jewish Life
4915 I-55 North, Suite 100A
PH. (601) 362-6357
FAX (601) 366-6293
EMAIL: [email protected]
Henry S. Jacobs Summer Camp - Union for Reform Judaism
3863 Morrison Road
Utica, MS 39175
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).