- Toba Hellerstein
Historic Event: Enormous Success for the Israel-Texas Water Innovation Showcase
Featured in the Times of Israel and the Jerusalem Post The Texas Israel Chamber of Commerce, Israeli Ministry of Economy, and the Meadows Center for Water and the Environment held a historic conference on Israel-Texas water collaboration on May 5. Senior Israeli and Texas officials and critical water stakeholders came together for a event addressing how Texas can benefit from Israeli innovative water solutions. According to Texas-Israel Chamber of Commerce's Executive Director Toba Hellerstein, "this is a historic event in Israel-Texas relations. Days after the Governor signed into law a bill which penalizes companies engaging in the anti-Israeli Boycott Divestment Sanctions (BDS) movement, we are showing that in fact increased economic relations builds strategic relationships and mutual prosperity between the Lone Star states." “This is a significant event for the water industry, and the first of its kind in the state of Texas,” said the new Israeli economic consul Shay Luvshis. "It also signifies a new page in Israeli-Texas relations." Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller gave the conference's keynote speech, emphasizing his aggressive pursuit of Texas-Israel business initiatives and his relaunch of the Texas-Israel Exchange council. "Texas and Israel are not only friends, they are core economic partners, and the partnership between Texas-Israel Chamber of Commerce and the Ministry of Economy plays a critical role in allowing us to improve cooperation between our states." The conference featured two of the leading water experts in Texas, Andrew Sansom, Executive Director of the Meadows Center for Water and the Environment, and Carlos Rubinstein, former chairman of the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) and former Commissioner for the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ). A delegation of 8 Israeli water companies presented groundbreaking Israel water technologies developed in Israel which are critical to the needs of companies, municipals, and policy-makers in Texas. Gil Shaki, the Israeli Senior Director for Water & Energy technology at the Innovation Authority, presented the history behind Israel being the world's #1 leader in water technology. Shaki continued to thank the initiative taken by the Texas-Israel Chamber of Commerce and the Ministry of Economy for spearheading "an essential showcase of Texas-Israeli water relations." The event's title sponsor, Hydra Water Solutions, presented a case study on how Texas business leadership can actively seek out partnerships with Israeli water companies to further improve the value of Texas-made water solution. Israeli companies Elbit Systems and Master Meter also sponsored the event. Elbit presented on the importance of their superior drone technology in monitoring water in agriculture, and Master Meter presented its innovative metering solutions to improve water conservation. Texas Representative Lyle Larson, Chair of the Natural Resources Committee, had planned to participate in the event, but instead was meanwhile engaged in an active debate on water legislation in the Texas House of Representatives. "Our Executive Director Toba Hellerstein has organized a truly historic initiative in her first few months at the Texas-Israel Chamber of Commerce, and I am extremely bullish about what this organization will accomplish. Water is only the beginning," according to the former Texas-Israel Chamber of Commerce Chairman Blaine Nelson, According to current Chairman George Seay, "The Texas-Israel Chamber of Commerce is a crucial actor in the expansion of commerce bilaterally between our country and Israel. There is a significant ‘win-win’ in enhancing water industry collaboration between Texas and Israel. Both have significant current and future water needs, and Israeli water technology brings innovative and dynamic potential solutions. This conference was an important step in advancing the efficient utilization of this critical resource to meet future economic and population growth in Texas and Israel.