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Patrick speaks to Brandeis business school about Israel and green tech

Published: October 31, 2008
Section: Front Page


Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick spoke in Brandeis’ Faculty Club about green technology similarities between Israel and Massachusetts Tuesday night at a dinner for the Israel Cleantech Investor Conference hosted by the International Business School.

At the conference, which was held in conjunction with the New England-Israel Business Council, the Government of Israel, the Israel Economic Mission to North America, and the Brandeis International Business School, both Massachusetts and Israeli start-up companies presented new technologies in alternative energy and energy efficiency.

Patrick, who pledged to make Massachusetts “the Silicon Valley of green technology” during his gubernatorial campaign four years ago, discussed the similarities between the Massachusetts and Israeli economies, saying that the two states could make great partners in the world of green technology.

“We, in this corner of the globe, like you in yours, are a wash in intellectual excellence,” Patrick said.

Patrick also said that, with the nation’s failing economy, green technology is “our way forward.”

“This is about the future of the planet, and that means that national and local governments must get involved,” he said. “It’s a great job creation opportunity, so we can be the ones not just to install wind-farms, but to build the turbines.”

Patrick’s presence at the conference dinner attracted other prominent audience members such as Waltham Mayor Jeanette McCarthy and State Representative Peter Koutoujian, as well as Israel’s Consul General to New England, Nadav Tamir.

Tamir, who also spoke at the dinner, said that Massachusetts and Israel have “a great connection.”

“These are two sites with no natural resources but they have plenty of brain power,” he said.

Brandeis University President Jehuda Reinharz, who lived in Haifa, Israel until he was a teenager, also spoke at the event. Reinharz also mentioned the nation’s economy, saying that “we are all poor in some respects, but we are all members of an intellectually affluent community.”

“Even when the market falters, we remain rich in human capital,” he said.

Also present at the event was the Board of Trustees, and Provost Marty Kraus, along with many members of the IBS community and Israeli and Massachusetts green entrepreneurs, along with a delegation of 11 Brown University students, who heard about the event from Cleantech founder, Jonathan Shapira.

Only three Brandeis undergraduates attended the dinner.

Neither SEA, nor any of Brandeis’ many Jewish or Israeli groups were invited to the event, which had a $75 registration fee.

Jacob Bockelmann ’09, who heard about the event because he is the Senior Undergraduate Student Representative to the Board of Trustees, said he enjoyed Patrick’s speech because he had not heard the comparison between Israel and Massachusetts before.

“The two states have a lot more in common than I thought,” he said.

Liz Piper Goldberg, President of Hillel at Brown University said that she enjoyed the speech because “it proves that Israel can be helpful and that it isn’t just a political issue. This is beyond politics, it’s more important,” she said.

Despite the lack of undergraduate attendance at the event, Patrick said he believed that the university was the perfect place to hold a conference about Massachusetts-Israeli green technology collaboration because “Brandeis is a great citizen.”

Reinharz agreed, saying that not only does Brandeis have an intrinsic connection with Israel because both the university and the state were founded in the same year, but that Brandeis also has a strong commitment to the environment. Reinharz cited his signing of the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment, along with Pulitzer Prize Winner Thomas Friedman’s ’75 visit to Brandeis two weeks ago as evidence of Brandeis’ commitment to green issues.

And, as if to prove his point, Reinharz, as a parting gift, gave Patrick a signed copy of Friedman’s book, Hot, Flat, and Crowded.