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State-to-State Cooperation: North Carolina and Israel

North Carolina












Trade and Population Statistics

Exports to Israel (2023)


      Percentage Change (2022-2023)


      Total Exports to Israel (1996-Present)


Israel’s Trade Partner Rank (2023)


North Carolina’s Rank as Exporter to Israel (2023) 19
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 North Carolina From U.S.-Israel Binational Foundations

Duke University
Duke Medical School
East Carolina University
Gaston County Dyeing Machine Co.
National Institutes of Health
National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences
North Carolina State University
SAS Institute Inc.
Samaritan’s Purse
University of North Carolina
University of North Carolina Medical School
Wake Forest University
Wake Forest University Health Sciences

Bilateral Institutions

Conexx (formerly the American-Israel Chamber of Commerce Southeast Division) was established in 1992 as a non-profit, 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.

Anti-Boycott Law

After passing the State House of Representatives by a vote of 96-19 and the State Senate by a vote of 45-3, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper signed his state’s anti-BDS legislation into law on July 31, 2017. The legislation requires complete divestment from and prohibits state agencies from contracting with companies that engage in BDS campaigns against Israel. 

Cooperative Agreements

In 1994, Gov. Jim Hunt established an International Commission that included task forces to stimulate trade and exchanges with Israel in business, academia, arts and culture, education, and social services. The Israel-North Carolina International Commission (INCIC) was created in 1996 to manage cooperative projects. Gov Hunt originally chose Israel because of the country’s potential as a regional center for trade in the Middle East. 

In 1993, the governments of North Carolina and Israel signed a far-reaching and broad agreement that led to the establishment in 1996 of North Carolina-Israel Development Centers in both places and an Israeli center for people with autism based on a North Carolina model.

North Carolina Government Missions to Israel

January 2018 - Wake Forest University President Nathan Hatch visited Israel in January 2018 to tour Israeli universities and learn from their curriculum, techniques, and procedures. He was joined by other University and College Presidents from California State University Northridge, Hunter College, New College of Florida, San Jose State University, and Georgia State University. The group held working meetings with administrators from Bar Ilan University, Ono Academic College, Shenkar College of Engineering, Design and Art, the Technion Israel Institute of Technology, the University of Haifa, and Shenkar College of Engineering, Design and Art.

North Carolina Honors Israel’s 60th Birthday

In 2008, the North Carolina General Assembly expressed the state’s strong friendship with the State of Israel. The House and Senate resolutions highlighted the state’s historical ties to the Jewish people and the state’s vibrant trading relationship with Israel and called for North Carolinians to honor Israel’s 60th anniversary as a modern state.

North Carolina and Israel share a robust friendship built on economic cooperation and common values. As the resolution states, “the people of Israel have established a vibrant, pluralistic, democratic political system, including freedom of speech, press, assembly, and religion.” 

The joint resolution was the fifth piece of legislation honoring Israel passed in the Southeast. Similar resolutions were also passed in Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Mississippi.

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 levels. Many states have recognized the opportunity to realize significant benefits by seeking to increase trade with Israel. North Carolina is one of 33 states that have cooperative agreements with Israel.

In 2023, North Carolina exported more than $158 million worth of manufacturing goods to Israel. Since 1996, North Carolina’s exports to Israel have totaled more than $3 billion, and Israel now ranks as North Carolina’s 38th leading trade partner. North Carolina ranks 19th among all states in exports to Israel.

Additionally, in 2015, North Carolina companies received more than $17 million in foreign military financing (FMF) to provide materiel for the Israeli Defense Forces. Since 1996, North Carolina companies have received more than $200 million in FMF. These include Honeywell International in Rocky, Piedmont Propulsion Systems, Inc. in Winston-Salem, and Shakespeare Company in Charlotte.

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 North Carolina.

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.

North Carolina has also received more than $8.7 million in grants from binational U.S.-Israel foundations for joint research in science, agriculture, and commercial venture promotion.

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 North Carolina is limited only by the imagination.

North Carolina 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.

Sara Lee of Winston-Salem has discovered the benefits of exporting to Israel as well as importing products. The company has a minority interest in Delta Galil Industries, an underwear and sock manufacturer in Tel Aviv, and now distributes its clothing around the United States. Terry Gill, Director of Global Sourcing for Sara Lee, described the relationship as a good one with a company that makes a good product.

Another textile giant, Fieldcrest Cannon, recently signed a $26 million distribution agreement with Kitan to sell its bedding in the United States.

Gambit Computer Communications has a marketing agreement with Memorex Telex Corp.’s Raleigh-based networks group. Gambit develops, manufactures, and sells computer communications equipment for local and wide-area networks. The strategic alliance is focusing on sales, support, and marketing in the short term, but Gambit’s North America Operations Manager, Ehud Katzir, says that a second phase might involve establishing a manufacturing facility in the U.S. that would create new jobs in North Carolina.

Mike White, Executive Manager for Protec, went on a trade mission to Israel and met with some of the leading Israeli telecommunications companies to discuss possible service agreements. Today, the Burlington-based company services ISDN equipment manufactured by Telrad. While in Israel, White discovered untapped business opportunities. “You could put the marketing genius available in North Carolina to work with Israeli companies to sell a variety of products in the United States,” he said.

North Carolina companies could also take advantage of the new Russian talent in Israel. Southern Optical, for example, is in the process of concluding a deal with a kibbutz factory to support an incubator in Jerusalem whose Russian engineers are producing a new product that could be beneficial to the optical industry. Southern Optical’s Tom Sloan praises the Israelis for their “low-cost, highly capable technological development.”

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 its extreme success has led Israel to adopt similar R&D models with other countries.

North Carolina companies have benefited from more than $1.5 million in BIRD grants.

In 1995, Gaston County Dyeing Machine Co. became the first North Carolina firm to receive a BIRD grant (to develop a monitoring sensor for the industry). Subsequently, two more Carolina firms received grants.

More recently, Compedia Software & Hardware Development Ltd. of Ramat Gan and Samaritan’s Purse of Boone received a grant to develop VolunteerVR - Virtual Reality Skills and Empowerment Tools for Disaster Relief Volunteers.

Scientific Innovations

North Carolina 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.

More than $2.6 million in BSF grants have been awarded to institutions in North Carolina, including the University of North Carolina, North Carolina State, and Duke.

BSF-supported collaborative research between Prof. Joseph Yanai of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and Prof. Theodore Sorkin from Duke University has succeeded in reversing brain birth defects in animal models, using stem cells to replace defective brain cells. Neural and behavioral birth defects, such as learning disabilities, are particularly difficult to treat because the prenatal teratogen substances that cause the abnormalities act diffusely in the fetal brain, resulting in multiple defects. Profs. Yanai and Sorkin’s BSF-sponsored teams were able to overcome this obstacle in laboratory tests with mice by using mouse embryonic neural stem cells. These cells migrate in the brain, search for the deficiency that caused the defect, and then differentiate into becoming the cells needed to repair the damage. The scientists are now developing procedures for the least invasive method for administering neural stem cells, which is probably via blood vessels, thus making the therapy practical and clinically feasible.

Tom Petes, a geneticist at UNC, is doing basic research to discern the rules of recombination. “By looking at the way a cell breaks down in a primitive organism like yeast,” he explained, “we hope to gain an understanding of what goes haywire in higher organisms and is thought to cause tumors.” Petes is working with a colleague who knows a lot about damage to DNA and DNA repair and finds the collaboration gives him ideas and new ways of thinking. “Without this type of collaboration,” says Petes, “you get inbred ideas. The BSF grant allows me to meet and work with other scientists.” This is especially important, he added, because money has become tight, and it is difficult to go to as many conferences as he used to for such exchanges.

One of the keys to health care reform will be figuring out how to provide services to a population that lives longer than past generations. UNC sociologist Elizabeth Mutran is working on a study that could provide some answers by determining how the elderly feel about different aspects of health care and what they want at the end of their lives. Mutran is working with an Israeli colleague from Beersheba on a project that involves interviews with 1,000 Israelis who are over 70. The respondents will be requestioned over the next three years to see how life events affect their attitudes toward treatment.

Mutran said the North Carolina population is too homogenous to examine many important variables. By doing the study in Israel, it will be possible to examine the influence of such things as healthcare funding, family structures, the role of religion, and attitudes toward death. The results could help determine the care older Americans will need and expect.

Richard Smith is a statistician at UNC conducting research on extreme values, which has the practical application of making possible predictions about extremes in sea level and climate. Smith cited the example of trying to determine the frequency and magnitude of floods to assist in determining how high dikes should be built in a place like Holland. The BSF grant allowed Smith to work closely with a colleague at the Technion in Haifa who also works in his specialized area of research. “Any collaboration is beneficial in research,” Smith said, “and BSF gave me an opportunity to work on an international basis.”

In addition to the BSF projects, UNC Charlotte is the only non-Israeli university with a license for an archaeological dig in Jerusalem. Approved by the Israeli Antiquities Authority, the Mount Zion Archaeological Project has been funded and staffed, in part, by UNC Charlotte students and staff since 2008. The program’s purpose is to “expose, examine and preserve all levels of habitation over the course of Jerusalem’s 3,000-year history.”

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.

North Carolina institutions have received grants worth more than $4.6 million. North Carolina State and the University of North Carolina are among the grant recipients, with NC State receiving the lion’s share.

John Brake, a professor in the Department of Poultry Science at North Carolina State, teamed with two professors in Israel in 2009 to develop a method for improving the survival rates of broiler chickens. Supported by BARD, their research uncovered a method that may help farmers increase the efficiency, cost-effectiveness, and profitability of growing broiler chickens. The research revolved around changing incubator conditions that would help decrease the chicken’s body temperatures, leading to a lowering of their metabolic rate, stress levels, and heat loss.

Overall, Prof. Brake and his Israeli counterparts found that reducing heat stress-related mortality will contribute $25 million to the USA and global broiler industry, which has been rapidly growing in years past, though it was searching for answers in dealing with the incubation problem. Additionally, Prof Brake found that slight changes in incubation temperatures could improve meat yield by 1%, an addition that will contribute over $20 million annually to the USA broiler industry.

Professor Brake was extremely happy with the support and leeway given to his research team by BARD. With the help of BARD facilitating the collaboration with Israel, Prof Brake is confident that his research team is “going to change the manner in which incubation of eggs take place all over the world.” 

In another project together with scientists at the Israel Ministry of Agriculture, Dr. Gabriel Katul, a professor of Hydrology and Micrometeorology at Duke University, completed a BARD-sponsored project in 2010 that may have a significant impact on the way water is used and preserved during the irrigation process in closed areas such as screenhouses or greenhouses. While irrigation requirements of crops in open fields are relatively well established, Dr. Katul and his colleagues were aware of a significant knowledge gap related to irrigation practices and requirements for protected or closed crops. Since the number of agricultural crops grown in protected environments is constantly increasing, gaining a better understanding of proper irrigation techniques for these crops will help to maximize water use efficiency.

Thanks to the support of BARD, cooperation between Dr. Katul’s research team in North Carolina and the Israeli team was very close and “significantly promoted all the research objectives.” Both principal investigators were able to travel between the two countries and personally collaborate numerous times together. 

Spanning more than two decades, another BARD-sponsored project put a group of scientists from North Carolina University that included Professors D. Mason Pharr (deceased in 2009), Steven Huber and John Williamson together with a large group from the Volcani Center in Israel to research ways in making melon taste sweeter. Through help from the BARD foundation, the group researched and found the complete characterization of the metabolic pathway responsible for the melon’s sweet taste. The scientists then showed that almost twenty enzymatic reactions are involved in this process and have further identified the key enzymes that determine the level of sucrose in the fruit. The group published several articles in various academic and scientific journals, including Physiologia Plantarum. 

Most species of fish in warm, brackish seawater found in the Mediterranean, Red Sea, Gulf of Mexico, and areas of North Carolina are susceptible to a deadly parasite. Ed Noga, an immunologist at North Carolina State, has a BARD grant to study the immune response of fish. He and his Israeli collaborators are interested in understanding this response so they can develop ways to immunize them.

Noga finds the project beneficial because he can see how other scientists conduct research, some technology is transferred, and he interacts with people who have different expertise and experiences. “It is a very productive, positive interaction.”

Jack Britt, an animal physiologist at North Carolina State, is interested in improving the fertility of dairy cattle. His colleagues in Israel have similar interests and work in a similar climate. The system they are developing appears to increase fertility in a cattle population with low fertility.

A geneticist at North Carolina State, Ben McDaniel, is also interested in cattle. He is looking at how traits are passed on from one generation to the next. He went back to 1883 to trace the development of one breed.

The research indicates that it is important to examine bulls’ maternal lines, supporting the observations of Israeli breeders who said that certain traits were passed on better to daughters than sons.

The project also involves researchers at Iowa State and, McDaniel says, BARD helped combine the unique expertise of scientists in Israel, Iowa, and North Carolina. In addition, Israel had a molecular genetics lab that the state lacked. The collaboration has established strong links between McDaniel and his Israeli counterparts.

Some of the benefits to North Carolina from BARD research are more indirect. For example, BARD grantees have developed techniques to help preserve the color, taste, and texture of apples, one of the State’s important crops. Other projects have developed strategies for breeding leaner poultry with no loss of other valuable characteristics, which can reduce costs for the state’s poultry industry.

Other Cooperative Programs

The North Carolina-Israel Autism Project is intended to expand existing relationships and establish new ones through the systematic training of professionals and parents in Israel based on 1) the knowledge and technology of the North Carolina TEACCH program (Treatment and Education of Autistic and related Communication-handicapped Children), 2) the importance of diagnostic, assessment, treatment and education programs in Israel, and 3) the exchange of information and ideas between the Israeli and North Carolina parent organizations (ALUT-The National Association for Autistic Children in Israel and the Autism Society of North Carolina).

“Reading Together” is a peer tutoring program adopted from Hebrew University’s YACHAD program. The program involves fifth graders tutoring second graders who are slow readers. The pilot project is being run in Guilford County. The University of North Carolina at Greensboro is being established as a national center for the training, development, and dissemination of the program.

The Israel/North Carolina Cultural Exchange began in the fall of 1996 and included 11 exhibitions, film festivals, artist residencies, and public programs designed to explore Israeli art and make it available throughout the State and Southeast.

The North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics and the Israel Arts and Science Academy signed an agreement to establish joint curricula and activities in the area of world leadership.

Duke University has developed the Duke Information System for Cardiovascular Care (DISCC), which allows analysis of epidemiological information, national health care profiles, clinical trial data, resource utilization, etc. The university is sharing its databank with the Israeli Ministry of Health.

The Guilford County School System has entered into an agreement with the Alexander Muss High School in Israel (AMHSI) whereby students from Guilford schools can receive credit for participating in an eight-week program at AMHSI.

NCIP coordinated and presented a live teleconference linking cardiac care centers at Duke University Medical Center, The Rabin Medical Center, Baylor Children’s Hospital, and the University of Milan to demonstrate the advances and uses of video-conferencing in diagnostic medicine in December 1996.

A teaching curriculum for dealing with stress in children who live in regions of war and terrorism is being jointly developed by Israeli and North Carolina researchers and will involve teachers and students at the Jordan Institute for Families at the University of North Carolina and Tel Hai College in Upper Galilee.

North Carolina State and the Volcani Center of Agricultural Research signed a cooperation agreement for joint research.

The Jewish Community Day School Durham/Chapel Hill is electronically linked with elementary school students at the Beit H’Tfozut school for a program related to Jewish identity in the diaspora.

Israel and North Carolina signed a technology cooperation agreement in which the Israel Center for Industrial R&D and the North Carolina Technology and Science Authority will set up a joint framework for fast Internet data transmission, GLOBES reported (4/9/98). This will include databases of high-tech companies in the two states and technological business cooperation opportunities. Seminars and meetings on cooperation will be held in North Carolina and Israel during the next two years, the first of which will occur during the Telecom ‘98 Exhibition in Tel Aviv this November.

Since 1993, law enforcement professionals have traveled to Israel to study the counterterrorism techniques and emergency management methods of their Israeli counterparts as part of the Georgia International Law Enforcement Exchange (GILEE) program. This privately funded program run by Georgia State University has been providing law enforcement officers with global perspectives and unique training since 1992. Law enforcement officers from Georgia, North Carolina, and Tennessee participated in the 2019 GILEE program.

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State Contacts

Hillel Campus Profiles

Durham-Chapel Hill Jewish Federation
3700 Lyckan Pkwy., Suite B
Durham, NC 27707
Tel. 919-489-5335
Fax. 919-489-5788
Email: [email protected]
Jewish Federation Of Wake County
8210 Creedmoor Rd., #104
Raleigh, NC 27613
Tel. 919-676-2200
North Carolina-Israel Partnership
Yaakov Weiss 4/34, Tel Aviv 69124
Tel. 03-642-8001, 643-1567
Tel. 08-939-2447
Email: [email protected]
Greensboro Jewish Federation
5509-C West Friendly Avenue
Greensboro, NC 27410
Tel: 336-852-5433
Fax: 336-852-4346
North Carolina-Israel Partnership
5509-C West Friendly Avenue
Greensboro, NC 27410
Tel. 336-218-0200
Fax. 336-218-1016
Email. [email protected]
North Carolina Partnership for Economic Development
Dept. of Commerce, 430 N. Salisbury St.
Raleigh, NC 27611
Tel. (919) 733-4962
Fax. 919-733-8356 (f)
Jewish Federation Of Greater Charlotte
5007 Providence Rd.
Charlotte, NC 27401
Tel. 910-272-3189
North Carolina-Israel Partnership
11 Achimeier St., #3
Tel Aviv, Israel 69126
Tel. 3-643-1567
Fax. 3-643-0180
Email. [email protected]
Western North Carolina Jewish Federation
236 Charlotte St.
Asheville, NC 28801
Tel. 704-253-0701

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).
Rebecca Noel, “Here’s why UNC Charlotte says it won’t act on student resolution to divest from Israel,” Charlotte Observer, (April 4, 2024).