State-to-State Cooperation: Nebraska 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)|| |
|Nebraska’s Rank as Exporter to Israel (2021)||35|
|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 Nebraska from U.S.-Israel Binational Foundations
Farrall Instruments, Inc.
University of Nebraska
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In 1993, Gov. Ben Nelson signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Israel to promote trade and exchanges related to agriculture.
Nebraska Government Missions to Israel
January 2013 - Senator Deb Fischer, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, traveled to Israel and Afghanistan with fellow senators on an official visit to meet with political and military leaders and learn more about the situation in the Middle East. In Israel, the group also met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. “That is not just a concern for the country of Israel, that is a concern for the United States of America as well,” Fischer says. “And, the prime minister stressed that that what happens in that region of the world has a direct effect on citizens in the United States.”
July 2008 - In a buildup to the 2008 presidential elections, Senator Chuck Hagel joined Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) on an official visit to Israel as part of a whirlwind tour in which the oval office-hopeful visited seven different countries. In Israel, Senators Hagel and Obama stressed how much they want to work towards solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and used their short time in the country to visit the southern Israeli city of Sderot which was been under constant rocket attack from Hamas in Gaza since the Israeli withdrawal in 2005.
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. Nebraska is one of 33 states that have cooperative agreements with Israel.
In 2021, Nebraska exported more than $40 million worth of manufacturing goods to Israel. Since 1996, Nebraska’s exports to Israel have totaled more than $603 million and Israel now ranks as Nebraska’s 26th leading trade partner. Nebraska ranks 35th among all states in exports to Israel.
Additionally, in 2015, Nebraska companies received $44,500 million in foreign military financing (FMF) to provide materiel for the Israeli Defense Forces. Since 1996, Nebraska companies have received nearly $13 million in FMF. These include Allmand Bros., Inc. in Holdrege, L-3 Communications Corp. in Londonderry, and Milpower Source, Inc. in Belmont.
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 Nebraska.
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.
Nebraska has also received more than $1.8 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 Nebraska is limited only by the imagination.
Nebraska 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.
More than 30 Nebraska companies have discovered the benefits of doing business in Israel, including Dale Electronics/Vishay and J.A. Woolam Company Inc.
Dale Electronics became a subsidiary of Vishay Intertechnology in 1985, thus strengthening Vishay’s business in Israel. Vishay has been doing business in Israel since 1969. Vishay is one of the world’s largest manufacturers of passive electronic components and discrete semiconductors, with plants in 14 countries, including Israel. Their sales reach nearly $2 billion per year. Vishay components can be found in almost all electronic equipment, such as telephones, computers, cars, video and audio equipment, medical equipment, and satellites produced by U.S. or European manufacturers.
Vishay has four plants in Israel, which produce 160 million components daily, of which 99 percent are exported to Europe, the U.S., and Asia. “Vishay Israel manufacturing operations draw upon unique human and economic resources; a reservoir of competent, loyal, scientific and technical personnel with a strong work ethic...Waves of immigration from the former Soviet Union have brought Vishay Israel a wealth of talented scientists, engineers, and electronics technicians,” according to Glyndwr Smith, Assistant to the CEO and Senior Vice President of Vishay. Its Dimona plant is one of the few plants in the world able to manufacture tantalum capacitors that require a difficult 52-step process.
“Some of Vishay’s most sophisticated products are produced in Israel. Every Vishay Israel factory, every product line, meets the world’s most stringent standards,” adds Smith. Over thirty years, Vishay’s success in Israel has grown exponentially in the passive component industry, with sales surging from less than $1 million to $330 million dollars.
J.A. Woolam Co. is another Nebraska company that has had success in Israel. Marketing manager James Hilfiger says, “I really enjoyed the diversity of research that I have been involved in, and our customers have been involved with, in such a small country. You can see that they are pioneering in many areas including chemistry, biotechnology and in semiconductors.” J.A. Woolam Company has sold the Israel Foreign Ministry ellipsometers used to measure their films and coatings (which can be found on sunglasses, laser optics, and in computer disks).
In 2020, Israel-based agtech company CropX Technologies Ltd. signed a collaboration agreement with Reinke Manufacturing, a global leader in pivot irrigation.
“The collaboration with Reinke will help CropX distribute its platform to thousands of new customers thanks to Reinke’s international distribution network,” CropX CEO Tomer Tzach told CTECH “Combining CropX’s solution with Reinke’s irrigation systems will provide farmers with an agronomic information platform and watering records based on real-time data. Farmers who use Reinke’s ReinCloud extended cloud app will be able to remotely run their irrigation system while managing CropX system data through the integrated platform.”
“We are very excited to make this strategic investment and partner with CropX as we continue to advance precision irrigation technology,” said Reinke’s president Chris Roth. “Reinke is dedicated to irrigation innovation to help growers produce more while providing them with labor savings and environmental efficiencies. We’ve found that same level of commitment in CropX. We are proud to provide the world’s finest irrigation system and we believe this long-term relationship will strengthen both of our companies as we develop unmatched irrigation solutions to farms around the world.”
In 2020, CropX acquired Nebraska-based CropMetrics.
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.
Nebraska companies have benefited from more than $300,000 in BIRD grants. Or Yehuda-based Hinoman and Benchmark Biolabs of Lincoln, for example, received a grant to develop a vaccine for Newcastle virus disease from aquatic plants.
Nebraska 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.
The University of Nebraska has received nearly $100,000 in BSF grants.
University of Nebraska scientist Donald C. Rundquist and his colleagues are studying how to use a remote sensing system to monitor some aspects of water quality, such as its color. He and his Israeli colleagues have worked independently and then compared data sets, approaches, and instruments. Together they have produced several publications. Working with Israelis has provided “training opportunities” and has “lead to some interesting developments,” according to Rundquist. One of these developments is that one of the Israeli scientists, Dr. Gittelson, from Ben Gurion University, has moved to the U.S. to become a full professor.
Dr. Rundquist’s research with the Israelis has been “a catalyst to seek further work in connections with Israelis.” Their research is also addressing the issue of algal bloom in sea and fresh water. These blooms overstimulate the algae in the water, a problem shared by both countries. Overstimulation causes ecological problems for the lake and for humans, putting toxins in the water, removing oxygen, and killing fish.
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.
The University of Nebraska has received BARD grants worth more than $1.3 million.
In 2006, Professors Thomas Clemente and James Alfano collaborated with Isaac Barash of Tel Aviv University for an exploratory one-year BARD grant. Though the grant was only for one year, Professor Alfano admits that the funds secured through BARD helped their research into plant pathology and immunity. From their BARD-supported research, Professors Clemente and Alfano initially made discoveries that certain bacterial proteins, injected into plant cells by bacterial pathogens, reduce and suppress a plant’s innate immunity to disease. Their preliminary findings are now the basis for a secondary application for further BARD funding.
Though he has had limited interaction with the BARD program outside of this grant, Professor Clemente understands the immense importance of the program. “Given the rapid rise in commodity prices over the last few years, from soybeans to cotton,” he says, “should provide sufficient rationale for the continuation of such critical programs such as BARD that help facilitate collaborative efforts between our two countries with the long-term goal to develop technologies to ensure a plentiful, safe and sustainable food supply.”
Former University of Nebraska plant pathologist Martin Dickman received five BARD grants while in Nebraska to support his research of plant diseases. With the help of BARD support, Professor Dickman used a genetic approach to learn about fungal diseases in crop plants and exploited designing a strategy to interfere with the features that enable the fungus to cause disease. BARD support allowed him to publish several research papers and a book on the subject.
Professor Dickman was very appreciative of the efforts BARD made to make his collaboration the best possible. He felt there was a “synergy between him and the Israeli partner; they have complementary expertise and could tackle the problems together. We worked well together and are in constant communication. We have become good friends and take every chance to get together.”
At the University of Nebraska, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Israeli scientists have been studying different strains of wheat grown in the Negev by Bedouins under drought conditions. Some of these wheat strains have developed a larger root system to protect themselves from droughts; these strains also have a higher grain protein content than commercial wheat.
BARD research done outside the state also benefits Nebraska. For example, BARD research on improving water quality, water availability, and the efficiency of water use will be extremely useful for irrigation for Nebraska’s farmers. Sorghum farmers will benefit from research on pesticide breakdown using sunlight. Nebraska’s corn industry will profit from discoveries that will protect corn from certain types of diseases. Nebraska wheat growers will benefit from research on optimizing the storage of winter wheat.
Other Cooperative Programs
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UJA Partnership 2000 Communities
Hillel Campus Profiles
Dept. of Agriculture
301 Centennial Mall South, P.O. Box 94947
Lincoln, NE 68509-4947
Jewish Federation Of Omaha
323 S 132nd St
Omaha, NE 68154-2106
Lincoln Jewish Welfare Federation
P.O. Box 67218
Lincoln, NE 68506
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).