Nevada and Israel: Strong relations a sure bet

What could possibly be the connection between Israel and Nevada — two places that are geographically more than 7,000 miles apart? Today, after four years of serving as the consul general of Israel to the southwest United States, I can confidently attest to the strong friendship that has blossomed between Israel and Nevada, strengthening both as a result.

Israel is only turning 63. Physically it can fit almost 14 times into the state of Nevada. Yet it boasts the highest number of companies on the NASDAQ, more than any other in the world, and leads in the number of new patents in the United States. In many ways the desert vistas of Nevada remind me of Israel. I believe strongly that the similarities between Nevada and Israel offer us the opportunity to deepen our friendship and strengthen our cooperation.

— Water: In Israel, we have worked for decades to transform our deserts, which make up 60 percent of the country, into productive farmlands. We have pioneered technologies to recycle, reclaim and reuse water.

Today, Israel recycles 72 percent of its water and each year we are finding new ways to use advanced filtration, sub-surface irrigation, and desalination technologies. We not only employ advanced technologies for smart water use but also innovative policies that have established a diversified market where the same water is used for multiple profitable purposes, such as fish farms and crops, without the need for additional filtration. Nevada’s climate could benefit from such technologies and policies, and Israel is ready to share both.

– Solar: On average, Israel has more than 300 sunny days per year; Reno and Las Vegas have on average 250 and 290 sunny days per year, respectively. This is an area of natural cooperation between Israel and Nevada in the global solar power marketplace.

Some of Israel’s most innovative solar power and alternative energy companies, BrightSource and Solel, have offices in Southern Nevada and are already creating jobs in Las Vegas and Henderson. In Israel, our scientists are working on cutting edge techniques that integrate nano-science and solar technology, producing panels which are more durable and efficient producers of electrical energy. While all of these advancements are taking place in Israel’s Negev desert, the deserts of Nevada may be the perfect place for cooperative labs and production facilities.

– Geothermal: Our clean technologies are not relegated to the field of solar science, Israel is also innovating in the field of geothermal energy. The Israeli company Ormat, a worldwide leader in clean geothermal energy, has facilities in Reno that employ more than 1,000 people. By 2013, Ormat will be providing enough reliable and renewable energy to power over 200,000 homes in Northern Nevada.

– Military and government: The cooperation between Israel and Nevada transcends the economic sector. Israeli Air Force pilots routinely train with their colleagues in the U.S. Air Force at Nellis Air Force Base. The joint training operations simulate counter air combat and low-flying ground strikes. Each year, top Israeli and American pilots come together to share their fighting capabilities, and it’s all happening in Nevada.

Nevada’s cooperation with Israel on global security is further enhanced by the remarkable efforts of your elected officials. Sens. Harry Reid and John Ensign have worked to enact the toughest international sanctions against Iran, a nation supporting international terrorism and pursuing nuclear weapons capabilities in clear defiance of international law. Your representatives in the U.S. House, Reps. Shelley Berkley, Dean Heller and Joe Heck, and former Rep. Dina Titus, have all publicly supported Israel’s right to self-defense while rockets fired from terrorists rained down on innocent Israeli civilians. Vocal support from Nevada’s representatives is important when the international community condemns Israel for defending families who live in the terrorists’ line of fire.

Even at the state level, Nevada is doing its part to bolster the efforts of federal sanctions legislation. Nevada Treasurer Kate Marshall shepherded legislation that requires the state to report on all of its pension fund investments in international companies doing business in Iran. Marshall also enacted policies in her own office which require companies that do business with Nevada to certify that they are not affiliated with any parent company which may conduct business within a country that sponsors international terrorism.

I recently met with Gov. Brian Sandoval and extended an invitation to him to visit Israel. Together we can ensure the great opportunity for cooperation between Israel and Nevada will materialize to its full potential. It is my hope these deserts 7,000 miles apart will bloom and guarantee that the relationship between Israel and Nevada is stronger than ever — with economic cooperation that will ensure the creation of more jobs, military cooperation that will ensure the continuous safety of our people, and government cooperation that will lead to a better future here and abroad.

Jacob Dayan is consul general of Israel to the southwest United States.

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