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

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Companies from Texas and Israel are working together to develop alternative sources of energy, such as wind and solar.
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Professors from Texas and Israel are studying new ways to inspect fruit. The Texas lab is conducting its experiments on apples while the Israelis work with dates.
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Professors from Baylor Medical School and Hebrew University are studying proteins in the nervous system. Their research may lead to methods of protection against nerve gas.

State to State: Texas and Israel

This story is part of a series that examines how individual U.S. states help strengthen the U.S.-Israel relationship and benefit from the Jewish state’s innovations. Previous stories include New Mexico, Connecticut, Maryland, Ohio, Florida and Colorado.

Texas and Israel are two states that are proud of their rich history. The Lone Star State and the Jewish state each overcame great difficulties to earn their independence and form their modern identity. (Locals will show you the Alamo and Masada, respectively, as proof.) Even the two states’ flags have something in common—the presence of a single star.

“Texans share a special kinship with the Israeli people,” said Texas Gov. Rick Perry. “We are both independent-minded and self-reliant and our history is grounded in strong stands against impossible odds.”

Texas is Israel’s fourth largest American trading partner; the two states do $1 billion worth of business per year with each other. In addition, over the past decade, Texas has invested more than $20 million in Israel bonds.

One of the main avenues for business relationships between Texas and Israel is the Texas-Israel Chamber of Commerce. Last winter, the chamber held its first annual “Cleanovation Conference” in Austin to promote business between water and energy conservation companies in Texas and Israel. The conference was a resounding success with over 200 Israeli and American attendees spanning across broad business sectors that included utility mechanics, renewable energy generation, smart grid technology and even law firms.

One headline-grabbing Texas-Israel venture is the drilling off of Israel’s northern coast by the Texas-based Noble Energy. The drilling, known as the Leviathan prospect, is one of the world’s most promising natural gas locations. The site could hold enough natural gas to supply all of Israel’s energy needs for 100 years. The results of the current exploratory drilling will be announced early next year.

Texas and Israel also cooperate on agricultural issues. In fact, their first mutual projects began nearly three decades ago through the formation of the Texas-Israel Exchange. Today that exchange has expanded to foster not only joint agriculture research but also development and trade.

Professor Steve Searcy of Texas A&M University and Colman Peleg of the Israel Institute of Technology are currently involved in a joint project to develop a self-adjusting fruit inspection system that would recognize fruit variations in order to accurately price the fruit. In what is perhaps an early effort to prepare for Rosh Hashanah, the Texas lab is conducting its experiments on apples while the Israelis work with dates.

In addition, research teams from Texas A&M University and the Israel Agriculture Research Organization recently saved American Southwest pecan trees. Farmers were, well, stumped by the premature death, stunted growth and low yields of pecan trees until this joint research team discovered that not enough water and air was being transmitted through soil particles, which dangerously increased the amount of salt in the soil and caused damage to the trees. Various irrigation schedules were developed to prevent the problem from reoccurring and to alleviate the problem for over 68,000 acres of struggling pecan trees, mostly in Texas.

Joint scientific research between Texas and Israeli researchers are helping doctors better understand the human body. For example, James Patrick of Houston’s Baylor Medical School and Hermona Sereq of Hebrew University are studying proteins in the nervous system. Their research may lead to developments in methods of protection against nerve gas weapons that target these proteins.

Israeli methods are being transported Austin, TX in the form of Israeli fighting techniques: Haganah and Krav Maga. The self-defense studio “Austin Self Defense” has hosted martial arts training seminars by three top martial arts instructors in an effort to train U.S. military, law enforcement and security personnel, along with martial arts enthusiasts, in fighting techniques unique to Israel.

Even in the field of education, Texas is learning from Israel. An Israeli program called the Home Instruction Program for Preschool Youngsters has been replicated throughout the country, including in the Texas cities of Dallas, Austin, Houston, San Antonio, El Paso and Beaumont. Former President Bill Clinton praised it as “the best preschool program on earth.”

In the words of Gov. Perry, “As we usher in a new era of relations between Texas and Israel, we speak of a grand vision of a world where terror is defeated by kinship, economic partnerships create new opportunity, and people are free to work and live in peace.”

Thanks to the recent successes of the Texas-Israel Chamber of Commerce, expansive joint research in agriculture and science and millions of Texan dollars invested in State of Israel bonds, the Texas-Israel relationship is sure to strengthen in the years ahead.

Read more in the Jewish Virtual Library about Texas-Israel cooperation.

AIPAC Diamond Interns Emma Noftz and Katherina Dimenstein contributed to this report. BACK TO TOP