New York governor announces trip to Israel, funding for Israeli startup

Governor Kathy Hochul to visit Jewish state for first time in office, pledges $1 million to electric vehicle charging company Zooz Power

Luke Tress is a JTA reporter and a former editor and reporter in New York for The Times of Israel.

New York Governor Kathy Hochul speaks during a news conference in New York, July 21, 2022. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
New York Governor Kathy Hochul speaks during a news conference in New York, July 21, 2022. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

NEW YORK — New York State Governor Kathy Hochul on Monday announced an upcoming trip to Israel and a state investment in an Israeli startup.

“I’m not going to announce any dates, but I’m coming,” she said, calling Israel “a unique place that is like no other on this planet.”

“I believe that Israel is extraordinary,” she said, “but also the opportunities that I see as governor are extraordinary.”

The trip will be Hochul’s first to Israel as governor. She planned a previous visit while serving as lieutenant governor, but canceled it after taking office last year when her predecessor, Andrew Cuomo, stepped down amid sexual harassment allegations.

Hochul made the statement at a Jerusalem Post conference in New York City alongside Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Lion and Israel’s Consul General to New York Asaf Zamir. Defense Minister Benny Gantz, Communication Minister Yoaz Hendel and President of the World Jewish Congress Ron Lauder also spoke at the event.

Hochul said Zooz Power, an Israel-based company that has developed a fast electric vehicle charging system, had won a New York-Israel Smart Energy Innovation Challenge worth $1 million.

The award will allow the state to partner with Zooz Power to advance New York’s clean energy goals.

“New York’s collaboration with the state of Israel, a hub for innovative, clean energy technologies, will deliver forward-thinking solutions that will strengthen New York’s EV infrastructure,” Hochul said.

Illustration showing the inside of a Zoozter-100 EV recharging unit. (Zooz Power)

New York and Israel are significant trade partners. A 2018 survey estimated that Israeli-founded businesses generated over $18 billion for New York State that year, accounting for 2% of the state’s GDP. Israeli Mapped in NY, which tracks Israeli firms in New York, counts 293 Israeli startups in the state.

Hochul, a Democrat, is running against Lee Zeldin, a Republican who is Jewish, in the state’s gubernatorial race. Hochul holds a strong but not insurmountable lead over Zeldin ahead of the November 8 election. She is seeking her first full term in office after taking over when Cuomo resigned last year.

New York is home to the largest Jewish population outside Israel, and Hochul is a firm supporter of the state’s Jewish communities and of Israel.

At the Monday event she highlighted her efforts to combat antisemitic hate crimes, which have soared in New York in recent years. Authorities have been under pressure to take the attacks more seriously, particularly by reforming bail laws, which often let offenders off the hook without jail time.

Illustrative: Jewish New Yorkers in front of a police car in Brooklyn, New York City, September 15, 2021. (Luke Tress/Times of Israel)

“The rise in antisemitism is of deep, personal concern to me as a human being and the leader of this State,” Hochul said. “We’ve worked very hard to reduce those numbers and to make sure that our victims have support.”

She did not address the state’s massive yeshiva school system, which has been a focal point of controversy in recent days. The Board of Regents, which supervises state education, passed legislation that aims to boost secular education and oversight in yeshivas on Monday. The legislation is expected to win final approval on Tuesday.

On Sunday, The New York Times published a high-profile investigation into yeshivas that showed dismal secular education at the schools, hundreds of millions in public funding for the system and physical punishments of students at some locations.

New York City Mayor Eric Adams on Monday said he was “not concerned” about the system’s academics, and confirmed an investigation into yeshivas was moving forward.

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