Dr. Hillel Newman, the Israeli Consul General in Los Angeles, called Arizona “a special friend of Israel,” in remarks he delivered at an event hosted by the Phoenix Committee on Foreign Relations last Friday.
Newman, who leads the Israeli Consulate in Los Angeles, which is responsible for the Southwest region of the United States, including Arizona, also discussed trade, innovation, the battle against antisemitism and other issues affecting the U.S.-Israel relationship and his country’s ties to Arizona during a conversation with Arizona Chamber of Commerce & Industry President and CEO Danny Seiden.
The event was attended by PCFR members and Phoenix-area elected officials.
Arizona and Israel both have predominantly desert climates, are on the leading edge of water stewardship innovation and have booming technology and defense sectors.
Israel is often referred to as the “Startup Nation.” Early stage firms there in 2021 raised more than $25 billion and more than 30 reached valuations over $1 billion.
“Arizona is positioned to be the ‘Startup State.’ We can work very closely on cyber issues, defense issues, aerospace, and water technology. There is tremendous potential,” Newman said.
Arizona in 2019 opened a trade and investment office in Tel Aviv, assisting Arizona and Israeli firms conducting bilateral trade and investment.
Arizona is set to invest in new water technologies and facilities to guarantee the state’s long-term water security. Desalination, which has been proposed by Ariz. Gov. Doug Ducey, was pioneered by Israel. The technology has enabled Israel to become a water exporter, despite its largely arid climate.
“The relations between Israel and the United States are beyond any individuals or any parties,” Newman said. “They are based on fundamental values.”
Seiden echoed that sentiment in a December op-ed, saying, “Our relationship with Israel goes far beyond business – it’s rooted in firm support for the Jewish state and total opposition to antisemitism.”
Newman during his visit also met with Ducey and state lawmakers.
Ducey in 2019 signed into law a bill supported by a bipartisan coalition of lawmakers that ensured the state would not do business with firms that boycott Israel. As a result, State Treasurer Kimberly Yee last year divested Arizona from bond holdings in Unilever, the corporate parent of Ben & Jerry’s, after the ice cream company announced it would not sell its products in parts of Israel.
“You did more than enact legislation,” Newman said in a speech to the state House of Representatives. “You enforced it. You all showed Ben & Jerry’s that the state of Arizona would not do business with those who seek to boycott Israel.”