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State-to-State Cooperation: West Virginia and Israel

West Virginia 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 West Virginia and Israel

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:

USDA Appalachian Fruit Research Station
West Virginia University


Bilateral Institutions top

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Cooperative Agreements - "Memoranda of Understanding" 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 a number of countries in the Middle East including Pakistan, Afghanistan, Jordan and Israel. In Israel, Sen. Manchin met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defesne Minister Ehud Barak with whom he discussed the importance of the US-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. Read more about the Senator's trip, CLICK HERE.

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

In 2012, West Virginia exported over $7.8 million worth of manufacturing goods to Israel. Since 1996, West Virginia exports to Israel have totaled nearly $140 million and Israel now ranks as West Virginia’s 46th leading trade partner.

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 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 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). 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.

As of yet, no companies in West Virginia have taken advantage of the reduced risks and greater fundings 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 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 West Virginia have shared with their counterparts in Israel nearly $120,000 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. West Virginia institutions have shared grants worth more than $50,000 since 1979.

In February 2011, 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 US that was facilitated by BARD funding. The original goal of the project was to provide scientific and technical basis for initiating certain breeding protocals 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 finding 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 others skills. BARD facilitated excellent communication between the groups in Israel and the United States and the research was 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 in order to be submitted for publication. To read more about this project, CLICK HERE.

In addition to their 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 are 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 up 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.