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State-to-State Cooperation: West Virginia and Israel

West Virginia










Trade and Population Statistics

Exports to Israel (2023)


      Percentage Change (2022-2023)


      Total Exports to Israel (1996-Present)


Israel’s Trade Partner Rank (2023)


West Virginia’s Rank as Exporter to Israel (2023) 44
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 West Virginia From U.S.-Israel Binational Foundations

Conservation Fund Freshwater Institute
USDA Appalachian Fruit Research Station
West Virginia University

Bilateral Institutions top

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Anti-Boycott Lawtop

West Virginia’s “prohibition on contracting with companies that boycott Israel,” signed by Gov. Jim Justice, noted that the state “has an economic and a humanitarian obligation to denounce and reject the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement against Israel, and to prevent the state or any of its instrumentalities from contracting with companies that engage in the movement.”

Cooperative Agreements top

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West Virginia Government Missions to Israel top

March 2011 - Senator Joe Manchin ran a 9-day fact-finding mission to several countries in the Middle East, including Pakistan, Afghanistan, Jordan, and Israel. In Israel, Sen. Manchin met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak, with whom he discussed the importance of the U.S.-Israel strategic partnership. During a series of other meetings, Sen Manchin also sat down with Opposition Leader Tzipi Livni to discuss possible new avenues to peace with the Palestinians as well as Lt. Gen. Michael Moeller, who has been put in charge of training and developing the Palestinian Security Forces.

March 2007 - Representative Nick Rahall joined a Congressional delegation led by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) on a fact-finding mission to the Middle East that included stops in Syria, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, and Israel. While in Israel, the delegation met with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert as well as Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and discussed the viability of the proposed Saudi Peace Initiative with both national leaders.

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

In 2023, West Virginia exported more than $12.6 million worth of manufacturing goods to Israel. Since 1996, West Virginia’s exports to Israel have totaled more than $212 million, and Israel now ranks as West Virginia’s 32nd leading trade partner. West Virginia ranks 44th among all states in exports to Israel.

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 West Virginia.

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.

West Virginia has also received more than $225,000 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 West Virginia is limited only by the imagination.

West Virginia Firms Profit From Business With Israel top

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.

Nearly $600,000 in profit has been accrued from business deals and cooperative projects between five West Virginia companies and Israel.

One of the companies, Union Carbide, has benefitted greatly from working with Israel. Working with Israel has been beneficial both financially and ecologically. Union Carbide has four types of projects dealing with chemical materials, engineering, petrochemical projects, and treatment of waste materials. The Israeli company, Clearon, for example, purchased bleach materials that are a waste product for Union Carbide. Clearon uses the bleach to get rid of pond odors. This waste recycling process benefits both companies and the environment.

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.

As of yet, no companies in West Virginia have taken advantage of the reduced risks and greater funding provided through a BIRD grant.

Scientific Innovations top

West Virginia 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.

West Virginia University has received $18,400 in BSF grants.

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 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.

West Virginia University has received $50,000 and the Conservation Fund Freshwater Institute $157,000 from BSF. 

Dr. Yniv Palti, of the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Center for Cool and Cold Water Aquaculture in Leetown, published the results of his 3-year collaborative study with scientists at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem as well as at Virginia Tech in the U.S. that was facilitated by BARD funding. The original goal of the project was to provide the scientific and technical basis for initiating certain breeding protocols in the common carp to make the fish more resistant to viral disease.

Dr. Palti’s research was incredibly important because the common carp is one of the most widely farmed freshwater fish species in the world. Additionally, edible carp is second only to tilapia in Israeli aquaculture production, and ornamental carp (koi) is an important product in both the US and Israel. In recent years, the carp industry worldwide has suffered enormous economic damage due to a viral disease caused by Cyprinid herpes virus 3 (CyHV-3). The BARD-supported research was important to find a sustainable solution to this problem that will lead to the establishment of a genetic improvement program for the fish.

For such an important and timely project such as this, it was of utmost importance that all the researchers could work well together and complement each other’s skills. BARD facilitated excellent communication between the groups in Israel and the United States, and the research was greatly promoted by this good exchange of materials, practices, and theory. Overall, the collaboration led to the publication of three joint studies in peer-reviewed journals, one that has been submitted for publication and yet another one that is in the process of preparation to be submitted for publication.

In addition to the National Center for Cool and Cold Water Aquaculture, the USDA’s Appalachian Fruit Research Center is another research institution to receive funding through BARD.

“BARD provided a tremendous opportunity to help solve important agricultural problems through unique collaborations between American and Israeli scientists that benefit both countries,” according to Michael Wisneski, a researcher at the USDA Appalachian Fruit Research Center.

Wisneski and his Israeli counterparts have discovered yeast that can protect fruits from rotting that can replace chemical fungicides. The yeast provides almost complete protection against rotting. Nearly $2 billion worth of U.S. crops is lost every year due to post-harvest damage.

The yeast product discovered by Wisneski and his Israeli counterparts has been patented and sold; it is one of the first biological products of its kind. This collaborative research has opened a new field of research, says Wisneski, “the ability to use biological control in a post-harvest environment.” He adds, “It has been a truly cooperative project, expertise was used on both sides. BARD funding was responsible for this success story.”

BARD research done outside the state also benefits West Virginia. For example, state apple growers can benefit from BARD’s projects to preserve the fruit’s crispness longer.

Other Cooperative Programs top

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Sister Cities top


State Contacts top

Hillel Campus Profiles

Federated Jewish Charities of Charleston
P.O. Box 1613
Charleston, WV 25326
Tel. 304-345-2320

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).