NEAR EAST REPORT AIPAC'S BIWEEKLY ON AMERICAN MIDDLE EAST POLICY

Connecticut Article photo 1
Israel buys S-70 Battlehawk helicopters from Sikorsky, a Connecticut-based company. Israel uses part of its annual U.S. security assistance to purchase the helicopters.
Connecticut Article photo 1
Helicopters such as the S-70 Battlehawk help ensure that Israel maintains its qualitative military edge in the region. Israel buys extensively from Connecticut companies.

State to State: Israel and Connecticut

Over the coming months, Near East Report will examine how individual U.S. states help strengthen the U.S.-Israel relationship and benefit from the Jewish state’s innovations.

Very few states can claim to be smaller than Israel; Connecticut, at only about 5,500 square miles in area, is one of them. Despite its size, the tiny New England state plays a vital role in ensuring Israel’s security. It’s home to some of the world’s leading defense contractors, including United Technologies and its divisions, Sikorsky, Pratt & Whitney and Hamilton Sunstrand. These companies supply Israel with helicopters, airplane engine parts and state-of-the-art weaponry, among other equipment.

Sikorsky Aircraft and the government of Israel signed a memorandum of understanding in 2005 to test a new helicopter—known as the Battlehawk—for use by the Israel Defense Forces. In 2008, Israel Aerospace Industries signed a $4 million deal with Pratt & Whitney to produce aircraft engine parts. The Hartford-based Colt Defense is a major supplier of machine guns to the Israeli military.

In 2006 alone, Connecticut companies received more than $135 million through contracts with the Jewish state—deals funded mostly by U.S. security assistance to Israel. In fact, Israel is required to spend most of its aid money in the United States, directly benefiting American companies and workers.

Earlier this spring, representatives from 18 Connecticut companies spent a week in Israel, seeking to expand their state’s trade relationship with the Jewish state. The companies represented a cross section of the Constitution State’s economy—including the defense industry and tourism. The group, led by Rep. Joe Courtney (D-CT), held more than 100 meetings with Israeli businesses. BACK TO TOP

A Long History of Ties

Connecticut and Israel cemented formal ties in 1988, with the establishment of the Connecticut-Israel Exchange Commission—a division of the governor’s office with the mission of expanding economic, scientific and cultural cooperation between the two states. The Commission works to match Israeli and Connecticut companies that are interested in cooperative ventures.

Over the past 22 years, economic cooperation between Connecticut and Israel has expanded dramatically. Connecticut has exported an impressive $1.1 billion in goods to Israel since 1999, and Israel now ranks as the state’s 19th leading international trade partner.

Connecticut and Israel are both home to leading research institutions. In 2008, Yale University in New Haven and The Technion technical university in Haifa announced a three-year partnership on homeland security and counterterrorism research. Professor and Technion President Yitzhak Apeloig said that the partnership “holds great promise for a safer—and more integrated—world.”

In fact, Yale’s connection to Israel and the Jewish people dates back hundreds of years. In the late 18th century, students at the university were encouraged to study Hebrew. Underscoring that connection, the Hebrew words Urim v’Thummim appear on the university’s seal.

In addition to Yale, other Connecticut institutions have also benefited greatly from various technical and agricultural research projects financed with joint U.S.-Israel research funds. The programs have spurred advancements in both telecommunications technology and psychology.

In spite of their modest geographic footprints, Connecticut and Israel each contributes a great deal to the world. As a senior trade official at the U.S. Embassy in Israel put it, Connecticut and Israel “may both lack natural resources, [but] each makes up for it through smarts and entrepreneurial spirit.”

For more information on the relationship between Israel and Connecticut, visit the Jewish Virtual Library. BACK TO TOP