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State-to-State Cooperation: South Carolina and Israel

South 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)


South Carolina’s Rank as Exporter to Israel (2023) 20
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 South Carolina From U.S.-Israel Binational Foundations

AVX Corp.
Clemson University
Coastal Carolina University
Furman University
Policy Management System
South Carolina Wildlife and Marine Research
South Carolina Department of Natural Resources
University of South Carolina
USDA U.S. Vegetable Lab

Bilateral Institutions

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 gains 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

South Carolina’s state legislature passed legislation banning the state from entering into contracts with companies that participate in certain kinds of boycotts. Unlike the Illinois measure, South Carolina’s H-3583 bill is in no way limited to companies that boycott Israeli firms. Rather, the legislation refers to companies that boycott “a person or an entity based in or doing business with a jurisdiction with whom South Carolina can enjoy open trade.” This legislation was signed by South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley on June 4, 2015.

Cooperative Agreements

In 1992, Gov. Carroll Campbell, Jr. signed a Memorandum of Intent to establish a South Carolina-Israel Exchange to promote trade, investment, agriculture, education, and tourism.

South Carolina Government Missions to Israel

March 2008 - Senator Lindsey Graham joined Senators Joe Lieberman (I-CT) and John McCain (R-AZ) on an official congressional visit to Israel to learn more about regional threats in the Middle East and ways in which the United States and Israel can collaborate on responses. While in Israel, the trio of senators met with Israeli Vice Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, who stressed the importance of dealing with the rising tide of Islamic extremism. “It is impossible to achieve peace without dealing with the fundamental issues of terrorism and extreme Islamism. A change in Gaza is essential,” said Minister Livni.

July 1999 - South Carolina Attorney General Charlie Condon joined eight other attorneys general for a trip to Israel. The participants in the mission went to explore U.S.-Israel cooperation in legal affairs and discussed issues including youth violence, the death penalty, and extradition laws.

South Carolina Highlights Relationship with Israel

On June 2, 2011, the state legislature of South Carolina unanimously passed a resolution commending the State of Israel for its relations with America in general and South Carolina, in particular. Bill H. 4339 celebrates the special friendship between South Carolina and Israel, calling it “cordial and mutually beneficial … since 1948.” The resolution also soundly emphasizes America’s steadfast support of Israel, naming her “the United States of America’s greatest friend in the Mideast.” State Representative Alan Clemmons (R) spoke to Israel National News about the bill. “My hope was to show the people of Israel that while South Carolina is a small state, with an even smaller Jewish population, they were not alone in their struggles,” said Clemmons.

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

In 2023, South Carolina exported more than $126 million worth of manufacturing goods to Israel. Since 1996, South Carolina’s exports to Israel have totaled more than $1.9 billion, and Israel now ranks as South Carolina’s 37th leading trade partner. South Carolina ranks 20th among all states in exports to Israel.

Additionally, in 2015, South Carolina companies received nearly $3 million in foreign military financing (FMF) to provide materiel for the Israeli Defense Forces. Since 1996, South Carolina companies have received nearly $43 million in FMF. These include Zephyr International LLC in Conway, Woven Electronics LLC in Simpsonville, and North American Rescue LLC in Greer.

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 South 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.

South Carolina has also received nearly $2 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 South Carolina is limited only by the imagination.

South 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.

More than 30 South Carolina companies have discovered the benefits of doing business in Israel, including AVX Corporation, Uniroyal, Amida Industries, and Magnecroft Electric Company.

Terex Cranes has had over “30 years of historically good relations” selling construction cranes and lifts to Israel, said Terex’s Government Project Manager Jeff Blacker. Comasco Ltd. is Terex’s distributor and “are excellent representatives for us,” according to Blacker. The market in Israel is large for these products and Terex sales have been around $1 million per year. Blacker said that Comasco has helped make it easier to do business in Israel than in many other countries.

Since about 1993, Amida Industries has been exporting mobile floodlight towers used by the Israeli army and air force. Their first experience in Israel was “working with the power companies there and because everything is so integrated between the government, municipalities and military, and done on a project by project basis, business grew,” said International Sales Coordinator Regina Lark. Amida has had a local agent based in Israel for about 7 or 8 years. He provides sales support as well as training classes, technical and manual support, and helps with warranty procedures and anything else needed to be done in Hebrew. Lark said that “having somebody in the country is a big plus.” The process of quoting, designing, working with the engineers, doing research, dealing with the Israeli Economic Mission in New York, and corresponding with everyone else involved in negotiations takes more than a year. In addition, the actual manufacturing of the specially designed product takes 6-8 months. Despite the long procedure, Amida has been extremely successful in its business interactions with Israel and signed some very large contracts.

The Israeli Defense Ministry came to Carolina Steel and Wire Corporation to purchase products used in the aircraft industry. The company has now been selling aircraft cables to Israel for the past 25 years. John Floyd, Vice President of Sales, said they were attracted to doing business with Israel because of the opportunity to make money. Most of Israel’s purchases, for example, helicopter wrenches, are made indirectly through Carolina Steel and Wire’s suppliers.

Kigre, Inc. has also been exporting to Israel for a long time. For 15 years, they have sold laser rods, filter tubes, and laser components used for medical lasers. Operations manager Elaine Verret said Israel is a very good market to be a part of.

Clark-Schwebel Fiber Glass Corporation has been exporting woven fiberglass fabrics to Israel for the past 10 to 15 years. These materials are used mostly as replacement parts in the aerospace industry. Their business cooperation began when Israel came to Clark-Schwebel and inquired about a quote on a specific product. Greg Reinert of the customer service department said that banking has been an issue in terms of establishing credit terms with Israel, but otherwise, their business interactions have been good and easy.

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

At least two South Carolina companies—AVX Corporation and Policy Management Systems—have taken advantage of the opportunity to reduce the risk of new ventures and tap into the deep pool of Israeli talent through the BIRD program. Overall, they have shared grants from BIRD worth more than $75,000.

AVX Corp. has been doing business with Israel for at least the past eight years or more, said Senior Account Manager Chris Parks. AVX imports electronic capacitors from Israel. These are components that go into computers or telephones. Ever since AVX purchased a manufacturing plant in Israel, South Carolina and Israel have been doing business together. Despite the long distance, working with Israel “is as easy as working with anybody else,” said Parks.

Elbit Systems of America plans to open a 135,000-square-foot facility in North Charleston in 2022 that is expected to bring 300 jobs to Charleston County. The company identified 280 suppliers in South Carolina that can provide materials and services to supply automatic self-propelled howitzer gun systems to the IDF.

“Establishing this facility is part of a strategy to increase Elbit System’s engineering and manufacturing capabilities in the U.S. and contribute to strengthening America’s defense industrial base,” said Elbit Systems of America President & CEO Raanan Horowitz.

Scientific Innovations

South 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.

Institutions in South Carolina have received $65,000 in BSF grants.

While some BSF projects have practical applications, many involve basic science and are meant only to stimulate advances in a particular field. This is typically the case of grantees in mathematics. University of South Carolina mathematics professor Ronald Devore works in a branch of mathematics that studies constrained approximation. This is when scientific data is acquired and is to be displayed on a computer screen while still retaining certain characteristics that the data should have. For example, if data increases in time and you want to mimic what occurs in nature, you work with curves and surfaces. Everyday examples of these are stock market curves. According to Dr. Devore, “this research considers methods for rendering data as curves or surfaces. The main feature of the project is to retain any inherent geometrical features of the data such as monotonicity and convexity.”

Together with his Tel Aviv University colleague, Dany Leviatan, Devore has created practical applications for this research, such as creating computer-aided designs for airplanes and automobiles. Devore said that they visit each other, then work separately and exchange information via email. He said that this is “the typical way mathematicians collaborate. We meet for a week or two during the year.”

Devore also collaborates with Eitan Tadmor, also of Tel Aviv University, as part of a Naval Research Grant. “Some of the best mathematicians are Israelis,” said Dr. Devore, “so it is useful for me and hopefully useful for them. Hopefully, we will continue to collaborate over the years.”

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.

South Carolina institutions have shared received more than $1.6 from BARD.

Studying the rapid multiplication of plants and food preservatives in bacteria are just two examples of the joint research projects conducted by South Carolina and Israel scientists under the auspices of BARD.

For three years, Professor Roy Young of Clemson University worked with the Volcani Center in Israel, studying alternative techniques for micropropagation. Normally, parts of a plant are taken from a mother plant, and when placed in a hormone solution called agree, the plant material multiplies. Rather than using this base to grow the plants, Young used an alternative liquid sugar base solution to grow the membrane material. The results of this study have been the rapid multiplication of genetic plant material that is not only virus-free but also exact replicates of the parent plant. Commercially, this is extremely useful because of the fast duplication of new virus-free plants. Young said of his experience with his Israel collaborators, “We had a super relationship and still communicate. I had a very positive experience [with the BARD grant collaboration].”

Dr. Susan Barefoot, Director of the School of Applied Science and Agribusiness at Clemson University, is currently working on her second BARD grant. Both grants involve research on natural anamicrobials, and food preservatives. The first project looked for the anamicrobials, began to determine their uses, and looked at ways to increase their production so they could be produced in useful quantities. Often bacteria only produce enough for their own sustenance, but they cannot be used commercially unless they are produced in great quantities. The current project is using the anamicrobials to develop ways to move genes around propiani bacteria, the producer of the anamicrobials, which are found in acids, and vitamins and make the holes in Swiss cheese. Although not at this stage yet, Dr. Barefoot and her collaborators, Dr. Natan Gollob of the Volcani Center in Israel and Dr. Bonita Glatz from Iowa State University, hope to modify the propiani bacteria so they will better understand their uses. Then it may be possible to prevent food-borne illnesses and increase the shelf life of products and do both more economically.

“It is useful to learn what their needs are in Israel,” said Dr. Barefoot. “We have some common needs. Dr. Gollob has a more molecular expertise. We can complement each other’s work that way. We share data and ideas, which helps each of us to come up with new ideas and maybe work out some problems we’re running into.”

Other BARD researchers have created computer models that predict whether the upcoming winter’s temperature will affect the bloom of peach trees in South Carolina, Georgia and Israel, or whether growers should spray them with special growth control chemicals. By giving advance warning, farmers can mobilize in time to prevent significant loss.

A BARD-sponsored design used for the processing of potatoes, onions, and flower bulbs in packing houses has been applied to an industrial application used in the separation of usable from damaged fruit. This invention helps BARD grantees at Clemson and the Volcani Center automatically sort fresh peaches by their firmness. Other assembly-line inventions assess other vital characteristics of fresh fruit.

Once these fruits and vegetables, which are very profitable in South Carolina, are picked and sorted, they often face the problem of over-ripening and decay. During harvest season, overloaded processing plants need to store fresh apricots and peaches while maintaining their firmness, fresh taste, and attractive appearance. Thanks to BARD grantees, this is now possible. Researchers have found that modified atmospheres containing 5 percent CO2 and 2 percent oxygen help preserve color, taste, and texture for subsequent canning.

Other Cooperative Programs

In January 2012, Israel and South Carolina launched a major joint program called the South Carolina-Israel Collaboration that will coordinate cooperation between South Carolina and Israel around these six relevant areas: biomedical, advanced materials, sustainable systems, transportation, defense/security, and insurance/health IT. The Collaboration will strengthen existing SC-Israel business and research relationships, work to create new partnerships, and raise awareness of this collaboration on both sides. In 2010, exports from SC to Israel totaled over $68 million, while imports from Israel to SC totaled $44 million, and Collaboration leaders hope their work through this major project will help increase these numbers. SCIC’s ideas for mutual benefit include driving Israeli companies to investors, partners, and customers in SC and offering support incentives for more companies to establish roots in the state. Similarly, Israel offers incentives to SC companies to start operations in Israel which can also serve as a bridge to the European market. Finally, the Collaboration will build upon already existing cooperation in the areas of joint venture research and development and pure research through the binational programs of BIRD, BARD, and BSF.

Sister Cities

None. Please email us with any additions.

State Contacts

Hillel Campus Profiles

Charleston Jewish Federation
1645 Raoul Wallenberg Blvd., P.O. Box 31298
Charleston, SC 29407
Tel. 843-571-6565
Fax. 843-556-6206

Columbia Jewish Federation
4540 Trenholm Rd., P.O. Box 6968
Columbia, SC 29260
Tel. 803-787-2023

Federated Jewish Charities of Greenville
P.O. Box 17615
Greenville, SC 29606
Tel. 803-244-1261

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).
Joseph Bustos, “300 new jobs coming to SC with company building combat vehicles for Israel,” The Herald, (November 9, 2021).