The governor talks with Jmore about his recent trade mission to Israel.

From Sept. 20-26, Gov. Larry Hogan led a trade mission to Israel with a delegation of 26 state business, education, health care and community leaders. This was the governor’s first trip to the Jewish state, and it was designed largely to increase trade between Israel and Maryland.

Jmore recently spoke to Hogan about the trip.

What were the main objectives of your mission to Israel?

Maryland has a very strong, productive relationship with Israel, and we wanted to make that even stronger. So this was primarily a trade mission to find ways to do even more business between Maryland and Israel.

We also had a focus on meeting with higher education institutions in Israel. And on the health side, we involved the University of Maryland Medical System and Johns Hopkins with Hadassah Hospital. In addition, we wanted to show our strong support for Israel. So for all of these objectives, we had a great and diverse group of folks with us.

The first three days, we had back-to-back meetings in Tel Aviv, meetings almost every hour with different business people, and then with people from universities.
After Tel Aviv, we went to Jerusalem and continued to have business meetings. We also had some cultural and religious events. We participated in a traditional Shabbat dinner, visited the Yad Vashem [Holocaust] memorial, and we were able to pray at the Western Wall.

Were you happy with what the trip accomplished?

We accomplished many [objectives]. For example, on our economic development focus, we met with Enzymotec and its subsidiary, VAYA Pharma, which we got to recently locate their U.S. headquarters at the University of Maryland BioPark in Baltimore.

We were with Electronics Technology Associates and their subsidiary, Cyberbit, and they announced the very first live, stand-alone cyber-security training center in the United States, to be based in Baltimore City and to employ 100 people. We are tripling the size of their corporate headquarters in Maryland, and it will be the first cyber-security training center in the United States.

I also addressed 250 Israeli high-tech entrepreneurs on the campus of Tel Aviv University.  Their start-up companies have brilliant ideas to team with Maryland companies and help them all to grow.

We signed a new MOU [memorandum of understanding] for five years with Hebrew University and the University of Maryland, Baltimore, that is focused on combined research opportunities. We will share in research and training and exchange of scholars for seminars and conferences, and we will have an exchange of students.

With UMBC [University of Maryland, Baltimore County] and Tel Aviv University, we signed another MOU for five years to promote cooperation between the two universities, as well as expand research opportunities, exchange students and academic staff, and share in training.

In addition to that, the Negev is the cyber hub of Israel, and Maryland is the cyber capital of America. We signed a sister-state relationship between Maryland and the Negev region, so I see great collaborative cyber-tech opportunities between Israel and Maryland.

What are the next steps?

We’re following up on all of them. Our secretary of state and several state committees are following up, as are teams at our and their universities to expand our relationships and to make further progress. Plus, we have other accomplishments that we are not yet ready to announce.

The great people in our delegation – business leaders, presidents of our top universities, leaders of major Jewish organizations in the state – they are all following up.

What are some of the most memorable experiences of this trip?

For me, on the personal side, most memorable was Yad Vashem, and most moving was my visit to the Western Wall in Old Jerusalem.

We also went to Hadassah Hospital.  My personal physician, Dr. Aaron Rapoport, was on the trip along with his father, Mort, who was a founder of the University of Maryland Medical System. He was also on the board of Hadassah Hospital. We were part of the birth of Hadassah Hospital because some of the original donors to that hospital came out of Baltimore. Hadassah Hospital’s Shock Trauma center is modeled after the University of Maryland’s Shock Trauma Center, which was the first one in the world. During a seminar at Hadassah Hospital, I got to talk about my experience with cancer. Many people on the trip and many people there were praying for me when I was going through my treatment. I very much appreciated their prayers and support.

It was great to be able to go on this trip. I had planned to take this trip last year and then planned it again this summer. I was happy to be cancer-free and healthy enough to have the opportunity of a lifetime to take this trip.

Gov. Larry Hogan chats with a young cancer patient at Hadassah Hospital.

Gov. Larry Hogan chats with a young cancer patient at Hadassah Hospital.

Unfortunately, you weren’t able to meet the late Israeli President Shimon Peres during your trip because he was ailing.

I was very much looking forward to meeting with Shimon Peres. He had his stroke shortly before we left on the trade mission, and then sadly he passed away. He was a champion of peace for Israel and around the world. His selfless service to the Israeli people for more than half a century will always be an inspiration. His legacy will always remain as a great leader, a statesmen and a peace keeper.

Peter Arnold is a writer and editor who lives in Olney.



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