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Rhode Island-Israel Cooperation












Trade and Population Statistics top

Exports to Israel (2019)


Percentage Change (2018-2019)


Total Exports to Israel (1996-Present)
Israel’s Rank As Trade Partner (2019)


Foreign Military Financing Contracts with Israel in 2015:


Jewish Population in 2020:


Jewish Percentage of Total Population:



Binational foundation grants shared by Rhode Island and Israeltop

Binational Agricultural Research and Development Fund (1979-2010) $0
Binational Science Foundation (1996-2009) $1,406,158
Binational Industrial Research and Development Foundation (1977-2012) $91,805

Grant recipients in Rhode Island from U.S.-Israel binational foundations

Brown University
University of Rhode Island

Bilateral Institutions top

May 2017 - A not-for-profit Chamber of Commerce was established between Israel and Rhode Island, the all-volunteer Rhode Island-Israel Collaborative (RIIC).

Anti-Boycott Law

The Anti-discrimination in State Contracts law adopted in July 2016 prohibits any company that seeks to do business with Rhode Island from engaging in economic warfare with Israel, or any other trading partner with favored nation status.

Cooperative Agreementstop

November 2019 - Agreement signed with Ben-Gurion University to encourage “co-generation of business start-ups,” develop internships, and work to create partnerships with Rhode Island colleges and universities.

Rhode Island Government Missions to Israel top

November 2019 - Governor Gina Raimondo held more than a dozen business meetings with companies and signed a cooperation agreement with Ben-Gurion University during her trip to Israel.

November 2011 - Governor Lincoln Chafee announced plans to lead an economic mission to Israel with the hopes of increasing Rhode Island exports to Israel, bringing more tourists to the Ocean State and spurring local job growth by improving the amount of trade. Rhode Island’s Economic Development Corporation will organize the mission for the beginning of November which will represent the first governor-led mission from the state to Israel since the mid 1990’s.

August 2011 - Congressman David Cicilline traveled to Israel with 80 fellow House members to learn about the regional politics and about the American-Israeli relationship.

February 2009 - Senator Sheldon Whitehouse joined a congressional trip to the Middle East during which he met with high ranking Israeli government officials. The focus of the trip was on U.S-Israeli bilateral relations, including cooperation in addressing military and security issues, as well as the political and social situation in the Palestinian Authority. “For decades, the conflict in the Middle East has been among America’s most difficult foreign policy challenges,” said Whitehouse. “I look forward to working with the Obama Administration to reaffirm our commitment to achieving a viable and independent Palestinian state living peacefully alongside Israel.”

July 2008 - In a buildup to the 2008 presidential elections, Senator Jack Reed 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 Reed and Obama stressed how much they want to work towards solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and used their short time in country to visit the southern Israeli city of Sderot which has been under constant rocket attack from Hamas in Gaza since the Israeli withdrawal in 2005.

Partners For Change top

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.

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. No fewer than 33 states have cooperative agreements with Israel.

Rhode Island does not yet have a formal partnership with Israel; nevertheless, in 2019, Rhode Island exported more than $20 million worth of manufacturing goods to Israel. The total value of exports since 1996 is nearly $194 million. Israel now ranks as Rhode Island’s 26th leading trade partner.

In addition, Rhode Island companies received more than $680,000 in 2015 for U.S. government-funded military contracts with Israel through the Foreign Military Financing (FMF) program (U.S. military assistance to Israel). One such Rhode Island company that received a contract through the FMF program is KVH Industries, Inc based out of Middletown.

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 Nevada.

Israel, for example, has developed several pioneering education programs. One, the Home Instruction Program for Preschool Youngsters, has been praised by President Clinton as “the best preschool program on earth” and replicated throughout the country, including Pawtucket.

Additionally, 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. It 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 Rhode Island is limited only by the imagination.

Rhode Island Firms Profit From Business With Israel top

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.

Rhode Island companies have benefited from more than $16,000 in BIRD grants over the last three decades.

In 2011, Pawtucket-based toy and boardgame company Hasbro was awarded funding through the BIRD Foundation to partner with the Israeli-based company VivoText to develop a life-like speech capability for embedded platforms. This grant was part of over $8.1 million awarded by BIRD to nine new projects in December 2011 to companies throughout the U.S. and Israel.

Scientific Innovations top

Researchers in Rhode Island 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 Rhode Island have shared with their counterparts in Israel nearly $1.5 million in BSF grants awarded since 1996 alone.

Agriculture Benefits top

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.

No institution in Rhode Island has taken advantage of the opportunities presented by BARD to stimulate research, though the availability of these grants is always there.

Other Cooperative Programs top

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Sister Cities top


UJA Partnership 2000 Communities

RHODE ISLAND . . . . . .. . .. . . .. . . .. . . .. .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ISRAEL

Rhode Island Jewish Community

Afula - Gilboa


State Contacts top

Hillel Campus Profiles

Bureau of Jewish Education of Rhode Island
130 Sessions St.
Providence, RI 02906
Tel. 401-331-0956

Jewish Federation of Rhode Island
130 Sessions St.
Providence, RI 02906
Tel. 401-421-4111