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On Israel Visit, Maryland Governor Strengthens Homeland Security Ties

November 10, 2003
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He came to Israel with the promise of strengthening ties as the United States and Israel together confront terrorism.

And along with a slew of bilateral deals with homeland security firms in his home state of Maryland, Gov. Robert Ehrlich, Jr. delivered something that can’t easily be priced: a sense of empathy with Israelis reeling from three years of Palestinian terrorism.

Shuttling between top-level meetings in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv during his four-day trade mission this week, Ehrlich found time to talk with new immigrants to Israel from Maryland — including Seth Mandell, whose son, Koby, was bludgeoned to death by Palestinian assailants in a West Bank cave two years ago.

“He’s a man of the people who puts people first,” former Baltimore resident Chevy Weiss told JTA after hosting Ehrlich, a Republican, in Beit Shemesh on Friday.

Following talks with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Finance Minister Silvan Shalom, Ehrlich announced the Maryland/Israel Partnership in Homeland Security, a symbiosis of his state’s facilities and Israel’s hard-earned expertise.

“As the terrorist threat increases, community leaders must have the most effective technology, tools and trained professionals to respond,” he said. “Maryland is ready to provide support for firms setting up operations in the state.”

The Homeland Security Partnership will include conferences, seminars and exchange visits to examine issues such as risk analysis and preparedness.

An immediate measure announced by Ehrlich’s office was the implementation of Israeli-developed security precautions at Baltimore Washington International Airport and the port of Baltimore.

Medical and security specialists among the governor’s 27-member delegation met with Israeli counterparts.

Barry Bogage, director of the Maryland/Israel Development Center, suggested that pharmaceutical firms from Maryland eventually could team up with Israeli experts to manufacture vaccines against biological attacks.

Ehrlich also toured Hadassah University Hospital in Jerusalem to learn about its cutting-edge trauma techniques, honed through dealing with casualties from dozens of suicide bombings.

Briefed about a Hadassah-linked laboratory’s stem-cell research, the governor asked what the Orthodox Jewish outlook on the practice was.

Ehrlich also announced the expansion of two Israeli technology companies in Germantown, Maryland. Oblicore, a software developer, will double the size of its office staff over the next year, hiring an additional 12 employees.

Medispec, which develops, manufactures and markets high-tech medical equipment for the fields of urology, uro- gynecology and orthopedics, will also expand its corporate offices in Maryland.

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