American companies directly employ about 60,000 Israelis, a full 2 percent of Israel’s workforce. At the same time, Israeli companies are creating tens of thousands of jobs in the United States. This job creation in both our countries is one of the clearest and most tangible expressions of how the U.S.-Israeli partnership touches the daily lives of our citizens.
By Ambassador Daniel B. Shapiro
Congratulations to Israel on 65 years of independence! During his visit to Israel last month, President Obama celebrated 65 years of friendship between Israel and the United States and stressed that our bonds are built on our shared values, democratic ideals and a belief that by providing our citizens with opportunity and freedom we can create more just and righteous societies. On the occasion of Independence Day, I want to reaffirm President Obama’s message. The future of U.S.–Israel relations is as bright today as it has ever been, and I am confident that our nations will become even closer in the future. But our relationship is evolving, and it may be the greatest potential for growth lies in our economic ties.
In his speech in Jerusalem, President Obama focused on how Israelis and Americans are working together to make progress on the three areas that define our times — security, peace, and prosperity. The president highlighted the security relationship between the United States and Israel, which has never been stronger, and underlined America’s unbreakable commitment to Israel’s security. His message was clear: as long as there is a United States, Israel will never be alone. President Obama also urged a renewed commitment to efforts to achieve peace and to negotiations leading to two states for two peoples — an independent Palestinian state alongside a secure, democratic and Jewish State of Israel. We know the difficulties involved in this task, but it is also our responsibility to future generations.
The third area the president addressed was prosperity, mainly, the strong economic and commercial ties between our countries. The economic dimension is often lost in the headlines on security and peace, but it is just as important, and in many ways represents the future of the U.S.-Israel relationship. These ties not only generate prosperity and jobs they also enable our countries to face the challenges of the 21st century together — whether it be ensuring we meet growing global demand for energy, protecting our environment and natural resources, or defending our digital infrastructure from cyberterrorism and crime.
Since the State of Israel’s founding, economic ties with the United States have grown to the point where America is now Israel’s largest trading partner. Two-way trade exceeds $40 billion per year. American direct investment in Israel and Israeli investment in America totals upwards of $20 billion. These numbers are significant, and they translate into jobs. American companies and their representatives directly employ about 60,000 Israelis, a full 2 percent of Israel’s workforce. At the same time, Israeli companies are creating tens of thousands of jobs in the United States. This job creation in both our countries is one of the clearest and most tangible expressions of how the U.S.-Israeli partnership touches the daily lives of our citizens.
Yet while our economic partnership has resulted in tremendous successes over the past decades, there is still huge potential for growth. We can and should take new steps to bolster trade and to improve our cooperation on important issues such as energy, the environment, scientific cooperation, and cybersecurity, which will facilitate the next generation of innovation and economic growth. For example, the discoveries of major offshore natural gas deposits — resources now being developed through partnerships between U.S. and Israeli companies — are dramatically changing Israel’s energy landscape and, if managed wisely, hold the promise of providing Israel with energy independence and security.
In the field of renewable energies, U.S. and Israeli environmental leaders are creating public-private partnerships between our governments, private businesses, entrepreneurs, and scientists that serve as models of how Americans and Israelis work together to solve environmental problems and create new business opportunities.
Cybersecurity is a critical new area for cooperation between our countries. In recent months, terrorists and criminals have targeted both America and Israel using cyberattacks. But no two countries — the United States, home of the world’s leading technology companies, and Israel, with the innovative population that has made it the Start-Up Nation — are better positioned to lead the world in fighting back against these threats. I look forward to strengthening the exchange of information between our cyberexperts so that we can better protect our critical information infrastructure.
As Israel celebrates another year of independence, I look forward to Americans and Israelis enhancing and building upon our already strong economic and commercial ties. Looking back on 65 years on cooperation, without a doubt, more success and prosperity is still to come for both our nations.
View original Israel Hayom publication at: http://www.israelhayom.com/site/newsletter_opinion.php?id=3999
About the Author:
Daniel B. Shapiro is a diplomat and the 19th and current Ambassador of the United States of America to the State of Israel. He was nominated by President Obama on March 29, 2011.
Previously, he was the senior director for the Middle East and North Africa on the United States National Security Council. Shapiro is active in the Washington Jewish community and speaks fluent Hebrew and some Arabic.