Virginia Israel Advisory Board (VIAB) Campaign

VIAB logo

What is the VIAB?

The Virginia Israel Advisory Board (VIAB) is the only Israel business promotion entity in the United States embedded within a state government and funded entirely by the state’s taxpayers. In terms of the overall state budget, VIAB’s direct share is small ($209,068 for fiscal years 2017 and 2018). However, VIAB’s diversion of state, federal and private grants, as well as demands on state-funded entities like colleges and universities to collaborate in projects designed primarily to benefit Israel, run in the millions of dollars per year.

VIAB’s main objective is to provide preferential and unconditional funding to oftentimes secretive Israeli business projects designed to entwine Israeli industries into Virginia industries and government. VIAB seeks to transcend warranted, growing and legitimate American grassroots concerns about human rights in Israel-Palestine by pressuring state lawmakers and the local business community into providing unconditional support and developing a long-term “stake” in Israel. If VIAB succeeds, the “state-Israel business promotion-entwine” model will be rolled out across the United States.

According to documents released under Virginia’s Freedom of Information Act, VIAB has:

Why do we oppose the VIAB?

VCHR believes there should be no preferential and unconditional Commonwealth of Virginia support for Israeli business projects for four key concerns: moral, economic, good governance and state public opinion.


In 2018, Israel’s already dismal human rights record declined even further as hundreds of mostly unarmed Palestinian protesters were shot, wounded and killed in Gaza by Israeli forces. Illegal Israeli settlement building in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights, territories captured by Israel in war and not internationally recognized as part of the state of Israel, continues with full Israeli government, popular and industry support. Israel continues to avoid bona fide peace efforts with Palestinian representatives of refugees expelled during Israel’s creation and their descendants languishing in refugee camps.


VIAB’s projects are inappropriate for Virginia. Because of a dubiously passed and lopsided 1985 U.S. trade agreement, the Commonwealth already has a half billion-dollar trade deficit with Israel. VIAB projects add to that deficit while portraying Virginians as unconditionally supportive of Israel’s human rights record.

Many of Israel’s military and policing “innovations” were developed to suppress unarmed and disenfranchised refugee populations and are therefore not appropriate for any bona fide U.S. security needs.

Some Israeli consumer packaged food projects in Virginia represent outright cultural appropriation, taking Middle Eastern cooking traditions and repackaging them as Israeli-branded cuisine.

Israeli water and energy projects are mostly inappropriate for Virginia’s vastly different ecosystem. Scarce Virginia capital should go to native Virginia solution providers who better understand the commonwealth’s climate, topography and history, and who will recycle profits into Virginia rather than transfer them offshore.

Good governance

VIAB has inherent conflicts of interest and is organized to give outside interests too much influence over the distribution of scarce taxpayer development funds.

  • VIAB code-names projects, such as a water project dubbed “Project Jonah,” in order to give Israeli companies an unwarranted competitive advantage. In addition, VIAB board member Aviva Frye sought government meetings for Energix, an Israeli renewable energy company she runs. This is not how state government is supposed to work. Virginia and U.S. water and other innovators should be allowed to openly compete with competitive bids for Virginia projects on a level playing field, unhindered by undue secrecy.
  • VIAB mandates that 4 of 29 citizen board members must be drawn from local Israel advocacy organizations, whereas VIAB’s hand-picked executive director is drawn from the Israel lobbying ecosystem.
  • Internal documents released by the Office of the Governor reveal outside compensation for VIAB’s executive director and the undemocratic selection of VIAB’s executive director.
  • Even the Jewish Community Relations Council for Greater Washington warned VIAB that "the request to grant Virginia’s Israel development activities special status, status that no other economic development group enjoys, may draw negative attention to VIAB and result in VIAB’s dissolution…”

State-wide public opinion

From September 25 through October 5, 2018, the Virginia Coalition for Human Rights (VCHR) chartered an unprecedented state-level public opinion poll. This came after disturbing revelations surfaced about the Virginia Israel Advisory Board (VIAB) from a 2018 Virginia Freedom of Information Act response, which provided VCHR with a collection of relevant documents.

The bar graph below summarizes the outcome of the poll.

Bargraph of VCHR VIAB Survey

Over a third of Virginians (38.1%) favor halting all taxpayer funding for Israeli business ventures in the commonwealth according to a VCHR poll fielded by Google Surveys. 32.7% of Virginians were neutral on the question of discontinuing the subsidies, while 29.2% disagreed.

The poll of 2110 Virginians is statistically significant with an RMSE score of 5.4%. Unfortunately, Google has sunset Google Surveys, so the poll can no longer be accessed online.

What can you do?

Here are some suggestions on how you can become involved:

  • Call your state legislator. Express your concerns about funding VIAB projects and VIAB, that such funding should instead prefer Virginia entities through open, competitive bidding and that legislators should address VCHR’s four key concerns about VIAB.
  • Join a VCHR participating organization. Get involved in linking human rights to economic development.
  • Learn more. Follow this issue on the VCHR website.

News Releases

11/19/2019 - Gov. Northam visit to Israel deepens Virginia’s human rights and trade deficit

10/23/2018 - Virginians oppose taxpayer subsidies for Israeli business projects

Testimonies and Presentations

Since 2019, VCHR has presented testimony regarding the VIAB at the yearly Virginia budget hearings.

Testimonies given in 2021

Testimonies given in 2020

Testimonies given in 2019