'We take the best of Israeli innovation and bring it to NJ'

Andrew Gross, Executive Director of the New Jersey-Israel Commission, says that NJ is leading the way in its relationship with Israel.

Yoni Kempinski ,

Andrew Gross
Andrew Gross

Andrew Gross, who was hired by New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy over the summer as the executive director of the New Jersey-Israel Commission - which is in charge of New Jersey's relations with Israel - spoke with Arutz Sheva about the commission's goals.

Gross explained that about half of his work for the commission focuses on economic issues, building stronger economic ties between New Jersey and Israel. His goal is to "help make New Jersey a stronger innovation state, to take the best of Israeli innovation and technology and bring it to New Jersey, to create jobs and opportunities. The other half of my work is a blend of academic, cultural, scientific and security relations."

There's so much talk about the relationship between the United States and Israel. How is the relationship felt at the state level?

"At the end of the day, the US-Israel relationship touches individual Americans and individual Israelis. I believe the states can play very important roles. States have their own programs so there's a lot that the Israel relationship can do for New Jersey. We can bring innovation to individual cities and communities."

"We have visits and delegations that benefit the state. For example, just the other day, we hosted Moshe Bar-Siman-Tov, the Director-General of the Israeli Ministry of Health together with the New Jersey Commissioner of Health. That's a great example of a bilateral Israel-New Jersey meeting. We spoke about healthcare and health technology and working together to fight disease."

In the course of your cooperative activities, do the topics of BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions), labeling and Judea and Samaria ever come up?

I feel extremely fortunate to work for a governor who has spoken out very clearly against BDS. [Governor Phil Murphy] is an extremely strong supporter of Israel. He and his wife, the First Lady Tammy Murphy, have both been to Israel twice since he's been governor, which I think is remarkable because he's only been in office for a year and a half. The governor sees the potential of Israel to be a huge and significant driver for the state's economy. When you're able to look at Israel through that prism, of how much it can add potential value to the state, that defeats any unfair criticism of the Israel relationship. We are leading the way when it comes to showing how Israel can be so beneficial to the state's economy, to social programs and to quality of life."

How many Jews live in New Jersey?

We have approximately 600,000 Jews in New Jersey. We have one of the largest Jewish communities in the United States. We also have the fourth-largest Israeli community in the U.S.

Gross concluded his remarks by wishing the Jewish communities in the United States, in New Jersey and Israel a happy New Year.