Relations between North Rhine-Westphalia and Israel
Story of a close friendship
Shortly after its foundation, and only a few years after the Second World War, the state of North Rhine-Westphalia pioneered contacts with Israel.
Long before diplomatic contacts were established in 1965, Israeli diplomats moved into quarters in Cologne and later in Bonn.
Sport always played a special role as an icebreaker. The President of the German Sports Association, Willi Daume, from North Rhine-Westphalia, was the first official representative of a German organization to be invited to Israel in 1957. At the same time, Carl Diem made it possible for two Israeli athletes to study at the German Sports Academy in Cologne.
From 1958, Israeli football coaches were regular guests for further training at the German Sports Academy in Cologne.
It comes as no surprise then that the state of North Rhine-Westphalia has maintained a very special and cordial relationship with the State of Israel since the 1960s. Bilateral relations were continuously expanded by all state governments: NRW and Israel signed of a joint declaration of intent for bilateral scientific cooperation in 2004. In 2008, they added an agreement to intensify school and youth exchanges. In 2014, they signed a joint letter of intent for cooperation with the Holocaust Memorial Yad Vashem.
In 2020, the opening of the Israel office - the first office of this kind that North Rhine-Westphalia set up abroad, set a new milestone in the bilateral relationship.
NRW.International and NRW.Invest have been funding an innovation and cooperation scout at the German-Israeli Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Tel Aviv (AHK) since 2017.
In 2018, NRW.International and NRW.Invest signed a declaration of intent with the AHK to further strengthen economic cooperation. Accordingly, at least one business trip from North Rhine-Westphalia to Israel is carried out annually. Furthermore, cooperation projects involving startups from Israel, large and medium-sized companies and various industrial clusters will be initiated in the coming years.
Exchange and encounter:
More than 50 schools in North Rhine-Westphalia maintain contacts with schools in Israel and the Area of the Palestinian Authority. The Ministry of Schools provides 170,000 euros a year for encounter measures in the context of school partnerships with Israel and the Palestinian Authority. These grants serve as travel grants for encounter measures, for preparatory visits by teachers (max. Two teachers) and as project funds as part of a study day in Yad Vashem. Find out more here.
David Ben Gurion Memorial Scholarship
The scholarship is offered to qualified candidates who have completed their doctorate with distinction at a university in North Rhine-Westphalia. The stipend funds a postdoctoral stay in Israel for the implementation of a self-selected research project in the fields of nanotechnology, materials and life sciences, energy technology, engineering and computer science.
In recent years, an average of 25 students from Israel, the Palestinian Territories and Jordan have taken part in research stays of up to three months at universities and technical colleges in North Rhine-Westphalia. More information about short-term grants can be found here
New Kibbutz program
Since 2017, the State Chancellery has been promoting internships for students who want to acquire first hand insights into Israel's innovative strength by working in a company in the fields of high-tech, IT, life science or social impact. The internship lasts two to six months and is supplemented by workshops on the topics of economy, politics, history and innovation in Israel.
You can find out more about internships and work stays on volunteering in Israel here.