Israel and Texas: A Growing Alliance

Over the past decades Israel has been growing and developing at a phenomenal pace. Thanks to ongoing immigration and a high birthrate, its population has doubled over the past 30 years. Since 1990 its GDP per capita has tripled. And the start-up nation—still very small with a population of 8.5 million—has become a world leader in some of the most important fields.

After a recent visit to Israel as head of a delegation from his state, Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush noted, among other things, that Israel’s water-desalination company, IDE Technologies, is considering a “program in Texas to help cities, communities and industrial partners meet their water needs.” Israeli firms are already helping California solve its water crisis.

It should come as no surprise in light of a recent Scientific American article detailing Israel’s pioneering innovations in this field. Just 15 years ago Israel, one of the world’s driest countries to begin with, was suffering from a drought and at the brink of a water catastrophe. Now, thanks to its revolutionary desalination technology, Israel not only fully supplies its own water needs but is at the forefront of solving the world’s water crisis.

During his visit Commissioner Bush met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and “discussed [with him] several economic areas where Israel and Texas can work together.” Bush noted that “Texas is home to the Silicon Prairie” while “Israel is the Silicon Valley of the Middle East.” We locals call it Silicon Wadi—the Tel Aviv-area beehive of Israeli high-tech companies that a Forbes article speculated could become “the dominant tech ecosystem in the world.”

At present, as Israeli commentator Yoram Ettinger notes, according to a recent study tiny Israel is “one of the top five world high-tech powers.” Only two countries—the U.S. and China—have more companies trading on the NASDAQ. Israel is one of only eight countries in the world to have launched space satellites, “a global co-leader with the US” in that field—and so on.

Of particular relevance to the Texas delegation’s visit was Israel’s offshore natural-gas exploration, which it is doing in partnership with Houston-based Noble Energy. It was Noble that, at the start of the millennium, first discovered the natural-gas deposits off Israel’s coast. Today the huge Tamar gas field is already online, and the even larger Leviathan field is on the way. Israel will be exporting natural gas to Jordan next year, and it is nearing a deal with Egypt. And although the politics are complex, Israel is also talking about possible gas deals with Turkey and with Greece and Cyprus.