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

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Biotech research grants between Maryland and Israel have helped fund medical studies, energy solutions and environmental advances.

State to State: Maryland and Israel

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.

For over 20 years, Maryland and Israel have maintained a strong bond based on economic development, scientific research and homeland security. The relationship has strengthened over time and today stands as a model for success between an American state and the Jewish state.

The partnership between Maryland and the state of Israel was formalized in 1988 when then-Governor William Donald Schaeffer created the Maryland-Israel Exchange. Four years later, the Maryland Israel Development Center (MIDC) was formed to promote trade and joint ventures between the two states.

In 2004, Israel and Maryland agreed to deepen their connection by creating the Maryland-Israel Development Fund. The $5 million fund is the first of its kind and supports joint product development projects between high-tech companies in Maryland and Israel.

These and other exchanges have strengthened trade between the two states. Maryland is one of more than 20 states with a trade office in Jerusalem and, since 1999, Maryland businesses have exported more than $480 billion worth of goods to the Jewish state.

In 2008, Gov. Martin O’Malley traveled to Israel on a trade mission to meet with business leaders.

“Maryland and Israel share many strengths in the technology and bioscience industries,” Gov. O’Malley told reporters during the mission. That same year, Teva Pharmaceuticals—Israel’s largest bioscience company—expanded its operations to Maryland, inking a $400 million deal to purchase a Rockville-based pharmaceutical company.

Home to several major research universities and more than 350 biotechnology companies, Maryland is a leading U.S. center of life sciences research. With the help of joint U.S.-Israel grant programs, states such as Maryland have been able to maximize the partnership between the two states.

Moreover, University of Maryland professor Dr. Laure Aurelian and a colleague at Hebrew University in Israel have worked together to study how specific skin cells can fight skin cancer—potentially saving countless lives.

Israeli companies are also providing jobs for the citizens of Maryland. As part of their joint business ventures, 30 Israeli companies have offices in the Mid-Atlantic state, including Israeli defense contractors Rafael and Israeli Military Industries. BACK TO TOP

Homeland Security Expertise

Like their effect on many states, the events of September 11, 2001, led Maryland to turn to America’s ally in the Middle East for guidance, support and its expertise in dealing with homeland security and international terrorism. This important cooperation led to a formalization of ties between Israel and Maryland that helps keep both states safe and secure.

In 2003, Maryland and Israel announced the Maryland-Israel Partnership in Homeland Security during then–Governor Robert Ehrlich’s trade mission to Israel. The agreement paved the way for homeland security and emergency management professionals from both sides to share “best practices” in fighting terrorism. In signing the agreement, Maryland became the first state to officially recognize the contribution cutting edge Israeli methods and technologies can make toward enhancing U.S. homeland security. Through the partnership, Maryland and Israeli security professionals are able to convene conferences to exchange views and examine issues, strive to improve preparedness capabilities and jointly research and develop new technologies.

"[Maryland] is extremely interested in what Israel has to offer in the field of homeland security,” said Barry Bogage, the Executive Director of the MIDC. “State and local officials, in this era have to pay attention to international affairs and terrorism—it is no longer just a federal issue,” he added. “We want our partnership to Israel to help us with emergency preparedness, emergency medical treatment and law enforcement.”

For more information on the relationship between Israel and Maryland, visit the Jewish Virtual Library.

AIPAC Diamond Summer Intern Adar Morag contributed to this report. BACK TO TOP