November 19, 2018

Environmental Collaboration Between California, Israel Planned

The “California-Israel Memo of Understanding” legislation, authored by assembly member Bob Blumenfield (D-San Fernando Valley), has inspired Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger — visiting Israel this week for the annual Saban forum — to sign a letter of intent with Benjamin Ben Eliezer, Israel’s Minister of Industry, Trade and Labor.

The letter seeks to formalize collaboration between California and Israel on clean energy research and development. It was announced at a press conference Nov. 17 at the Tel Aviv Exhibition Center. Brad Cox, chairman of the Los Angeles Business Council, and Pedro Pizarro, executive vice president of Power Operations at Southern California Edison, were among the business leaders and interested parties in attendance.

“This is a win-win for California and Israel,” said Blumenfield. “It’s good for jobs. It’s good for the environment. This will help both economies.”

According to Blumenfield, the letter of intent is very similar to his legislation, which calls for a “relationship between [California] and Israel to foster technology development, business development, and educational opportunities in solar energy and environmental technology industries.” The partnership will also reduce California’s dependency on foreign oil, he explained.

The Coalition on the Environment and Jewish life of Southern California (COEJL) promotes the notion that Jewish faith demands the environment be a political priority. COEJL worked closely with Blumenfield on the legislation over the past year.

“California and Israel both have the same energy problems. We both have the same waste problems. Together, we can solve them,” said Lee Wallach, COEJL president. “Having California and Israel leaders come together to push trade is just what we needed.”

California Jews have found a proponent in Blumenfield; his clean energy legislation comes on the heels of an Israel-friendly bill he introduced last month, which attempts to hinder contracts between U.S. corporations and Iran’s energy sector.