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State-to-State Cooperation: Oregon and Israel

Oregon Jewish History





Trade and Population Statistics

Exports to Israel (2017)


      Percentage Change (2016-2017)


      Total Exports to Israel (1996-Present)


Israel's Trade Partner Rank (2017)


Military Contracts with Israel (2012)


Jewish Population (2017)


      Jewish Percentage of Population



Binational foundation grants shared by Oregon and Israel

Agricultural Research & Development (1979-Present)


Science & Technology (1999-Present)


Industrial Research & Development (1977-Present)


Total Binational Grants



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

Decision Research
Electro Scientific Industries Inc.
nCUBE Corp.
Oregon Grad. Inst. Science & Tech.
Oregon Health Sciences University
Oregon State University
Tektronix Inc.
University of Oregon
VA Medical Center


Bilateral Institutions

Oregon-Israel Business Alliance -
Formed in 2010 under the leadership of Governor Ted Kulongoski and various Israeli government officials, the OIBA held its inaugural event on the campus of the University of Oregon in Portland and was attended by officials from the State of Oregon, the City of Portland and businesspeople from the biotech, high-tech and cleantech industries. During his speech at the event, Gov Kulongoski described "the secret" to cooperation between the two sides as relating to Israel's advancement in water technologies and Oregon's expertise in forestry. Learn more about this newly established bilateral organization, CLICK HERE.


Cooperative Agreements - "Memoranda of Understanding"

In October 2010, Governor Ted Kulongoski signed a memorandum of understanding with the Israeli government "to develop and strengthen economic, industrial, technological and commercial cooperation." According to the Governor's press release, the agreement "is in the best interest of the people of Oregon. Israel is a strong and democratic friend of Oregon and the United States. This agreement will build on our existing trade relationship with Israel, open up new opportunities to share information and foster commercial ties in areas that are vital to Oregon's economic future." Read about the debate this MOU sparked, CLICK HERE.


Oregon Government Missions to Israel

November 2010 - Governor Ted Kulongoski led another business development mission to Israel, his second such trip since taking office in Oregon. The Governor's delegation included business leaders who helped Gov Kulongoski with the goal of promoting Oregon as the ideal partner for green energy, security, and manufacturing projects, while also opening new markets for Oregon products. Read more about the mission, CLICK HERE.

April 2008 - Governor Ted Kulongoski led a business development mission in Israel where he met with representatives from Intel’s Israeli research and development (R&D) facility among a number of other such companies operating in Israel. “Oregon is home to Intel’s largest production facility in the world, which is the back bone of Oregon’s renowned ‘silicon forest’ semiconductor industry,” Governor Kulongoski said. “I want the state to do everything it can to keep Oregon on the cutting edge of silicon technology, which is such a driving force of Oregon’s economy.” Read more about the Governor's trip, CLICK HERE.


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

In 2012, Oregon exported over $172,351,044 worth of manufacturing goods to Israel. Since 1996, Oregon exports to Israel have totaled more than $1,558,202,931 and Israel now ranks as Oregon’s 14th leading trade partner.

Additionally in 2012, Oregon received more than $3,364,666 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 include: Freeman Marine Equipment, Inc. in Gold Beach, Engineering Design Team Inc. in Beaverton and Service Steel, Inc. in Portland.

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 Oregon.

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 Oregon is limited only by the imagination.


Oregon 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 Oregon companies have discovered the benefits of doing business in Israel, including EDX Engineering Inc., Mentor Graphics and Electro Scientific Industries.

Jennifer Dunkin, customer relations manager at EDX Engineering Inc., has been selling engineering software to Israelis for at least five years. "They are always very kind and interested in training and using software correctly. They are high-level users," says Dunkins. She also enjoys the contacts she has made working with Israelis and trusts their references. Dunkin finds Israelis easy to work with and looks forward to working with them in the future.

Another Oregon-based company, Mentor Graphics, has been doing business in Israel since 1986 selling graphic software tools and applications to the Israeli government. These tools are used for telecommunications, consumer electronics, semiconductors and aerospace. Most of the purchases are made through the New York Office of the Israeli Ministry of Defense. According to Judy Erdmann, European Liason for Mentor Graphics, "it is very worthwhile to do business in Israel" and she "highly recommends that other companies do business in Israel."

Joe Reinhart, Vice President of Business Development at Electro Scientific Industries, also feels that "Israel is a good place to do business." Electra Scientific supplies equipment to Israel for the production of semiconductors and makes close to $5-10 million dollars a year. Electra Scientific has a good deal of business in Israel and has cooperative projects with many Israeli companies, including Vishay 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). 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.

nCUBE and Electro Scientific are two of a number of Oregon-based companies that have profited from more than $1 million dollars in BIRD grants since 1980.


Scientific Innovations

Oregon 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 such as Oregon State University, Oregon Health Science University and the University of Oregon are among the Oregon institutions that have shared with their counterparts in Israel nearly $2.42 million in BSF grants awarded since 1996 alone.

In 2009, Professor Hiro Nonogaki of Oregon State University was awarded a four year BSF grant to collaborate with Dr. Aaron Fait of Ben Gurion University of the Negev in Sde Boker, Israel. The BSF project, called “Spatial Diversification of Metabolism at Germination”, is in the midst of its on-going research. The project focuses on the mechanisms of seed germination, which is an important initial step in agricultural production. Successful germination is the key to the establishment of vigorous plants that will lead to high crop yields. Germination is realized through many biochemical and molecular changes in seeds, which have not been fully understood. This project aims to elucidate the mechanisms underlying seed germination. The principal investigator in Israel is currently working on profiling small chemical substances in seeds while the U.S. researcher visited Sede Boqer, Israel to train Israeli researchers and students for tissue specific gene expression analysis. The integration of the different expertise will draw a complete picture of seed germination. The knowledge obtained from this project will contribute to technology development for seed enhancement and will contribute to global seed business.

Professor Nonogaki is extremely excited about the possibilites that this BSF project could open for the agricultural community in the future. As Prof Nonogaki himself attests, "The support from the U.S.-Israel Binational Science Foundation provides excellent opportunities for U.S. scientists and their counterpart in Israel." Without the support of BSF, it is wholly possible to realize that this project would never have gotten off the ground.

Oregon State University Zoologist Virginia Weiss has been collaborating with her Israeli counterpart for four years. She is researching soft coral, a symbiosis of animal and micro algae, which is commonly found in the Red Sea. Israel has one of the best coral reefs in the world, which is accessible year-round and Weiss hopes to understand how the animal and plant parts interact in coral. In this collaboration, Weiss’s counterpart in Israel has access to the coral and special microscopes, while she researches the molecular biology aspects of the issue. "This research could not have happened without my partner," states Weiss.

Another BSF recipient, C. T. Roberts, a scientist from Oregon Health Sciences University, has been collaborating with an Israeli counterpart since 1989. They are researching how tumor suppressor genes regulate and prevent growth factor action in cancer cells. "The BSF grant has allowed us to continue our international collaborations" states Roberts. The team has written more than 40 publications, with more in progress. Their research is especially relevant to the study of breast and prostate cancer.

Michael Kavanaugh, another Oregon Health Sciences University scientist, is studying how molecules found on the surface of brain cells transport glutamate. These molecules are involved in certain neuro-degenerative diseases, such as strokes and ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease). Through this collaborative work, Kavanaugh hopes to learn the role of these molecules in the diseases. According to Kavanaugh, "the BSF grant has facilitated the collaboration and pushed our understanding further." Over a three-four year period, Kavanaugh and his Israeli counterpart have written six or seven papers together.

The University of Oregon’s William Trevarrow has been collaborating with Israeli scientist Clay Davis on research dealing with Zebra fish. The research has provided a novel approach to identify genes that detect proteins in the early development of Zebra fish. He believes that it is a "technologically innovative and creative project." Trevarrow hopes to collaborate with more Israelis in the future.


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.

Oregon institutions have shared grants worth more than $1.2 million since 1979.

Valerim Dolja of the Botany Department of Oregon State University received a BARD grant in 1998 to study how viruses cause plant diseases. Dolja and his Israeli counterpart have produced trans-genetic plants that are resistant to the Poty virus, a disease prevalent in crops throughout the world. Half of the experiments are performed in the United States, while the other half are conducted at Israel’s Volcani Center. Access to cutting edge technology, Israeli expertise on the Poty virus and trans-genetic plants are just some of the benefits Dolja has gained by working with Israelis. "Everyone benefits from the interaction; without BARD support, the research would have been impossible," said Dolja.

BARD research done outside the state has also been beneficial to Oregon. Studies to improve water quality, water availability and the efficiency of water use is valuable because Oregon has 35% irrigated farming. Oregon’s $100 million potato crop may benefit from BARD research on the potato leaf-roll virus. Finally, Oregon’s flower bulbs can be protected thanks to solarization techniques designed by Israeli scientists.


Other Cooperative Programs

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Sister Cities:






UJA Partnership 2000 Communities:



Kiryat Malachi - Hof Ashkelon


State Contacts:

Hillel Campus Profiles

Jewish Federation Of Lane County
Box #-5924
Eugene, OR 97405-0911
Tel. 541-484-2541

Jewish Federation Of Portland
6651 SW Capitol Hwy
Portland, OR 97219-1914
Tel. 503-245-6219