California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger holds a ‘hamsa’ charm which he received as a gift on Saturday night in Tel Aviv. (Photo: AP)Making his first overseas trip in office to Israel, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger called on dozens of Israeli corporate executives to invest and expand their businesses in California.

“I promised I would travel the world to sell California and find employers to provide new jobs for Californians,” Schwarzenegger told a group of more than 200 Israeli and American business leaders, venture capitalists and entrepreneurs at the Tel Aviv Hilton Saturday night. “Tonight, as part of my first trip abroad as California Governor, my message to Israel is that California is open for business. We have the best educated workforce, the perfect climate and now we have a government that is making it easier for you to do business in California.”

As evidence of the governor’s commitment to helping companies around the world do business in California, he introduced five Israeli companies that will expand in the Golden State, resulting in the creation of more than 800 new jobs.

“These five companies were identified by my jobs commission, which will help them clear the way for their expansions in California,” Schwarzenegger said. “I have no doubt these firms will profit from their commitment to our state and our workers, and that our state will prosper from their business.”

The five deals the governor announced are:

** The relocation of the worldwide headquarters of the IP storage networking company SANRAD from Tel Aviv to Alameda, California, creating 300 new jobs in Alameda;

** A partnership between Yokneam, Israel’s Arad Technologies and Sacramento, California’s USCL Corp. to develop “smart” utility meters so business and residential ratepayers can monitor and control their own energy usage, resulting in 200 new jobs in the Sacramento area;

** An expansion of the Fremont, California operation of Israel’s Magal Security Systems, where the company will hire 250 Californians to make and sell its high-tech monitors to protect public buildings, such as airports, train stations and hospitals;

** A partnership between Tel Aviv’s Netline Communications Technologies (NCT) and Santa Cruz-based Life Safety Systems to design and assemble equipment that will protect military forces with a jammer to prevent bombs from being triggered remotely by cell phones, bringing 60 new jobs to Santa Cruz; and

** The expansion of the Israeli Internet security firm ForeScout in San Mateo, where it will locate the control center for a new worldwide service to stop Internet hackers, adding 30 new jobs.

“Though SANRAD is an Israeli company, we are also residents and a business member of the great state of California,” said SANRAD CEO Shaul Gal-Oz. “We are honored to have the opportunity to meet with Governor Schwarzenegger on his visit to Israel and I am pleased to have the opportunity to personally inform him about our plans to expand on our interests in California, which will result in the creation of new jobs and continued growth in revenue.”

“Israel is one of the top three centers for high-technology research and development in the world,” said Warren Hellman, co-chairman of the California Commission for Jobs & Economic Growth which was founded by Schwarzenegger last month to help find companies interested in locating in California. “Increasingly, Israeli companies are basing their sales, marketing and production operations in California.”

“Governor Schwarzenegger has asked us to help him assist more Israeli companies expand on this trend,” said commission co-chair Ron Olson. “These five announcements today, and the warm reception the Governor received from many other key Israeli executives, make this a promising opportunity for California.”

In 2003, California sold $753 million in goods and services to Israel, creating 8,300 California jobs. That same year, Israel sold $248 million in goods and services to California, creating 1,200 California jobs. California is the fourth largest US exporter to Israel.

At Saturday night’s reception in Tel Aviv, Schwarzenegger praised the Israeli people for their “genius.” “There are so many brilliant people in this country and they’re so innovative that – working together with California – I think we can really create jobs, businesses and revenues.”

“He’s a great friend of Israel and an exciting person and a great friend of the Jewish people,” Deputy Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said of Schwarzenegger. “And it’s very flattering, to be honest, that he comes in his first trip overseas after being elected governor to the state of Israel.”

The main reason for Schwarzegger’s visit to Israel was to attend Sunday’s groundbreaking ceremony in Jerusalem for the Simon Wiesenthal Center museum of tolerance.

Schwarzenegger has a long-standing relationship with the Los Angeles-based Wiesenthal center, one of the largest international Jewish human rights organizations. He has given the group more than $1 million. The governor’s father was a member of the Nazi party, but the actor-turned-politician has always sought to distance himself from that part of his Austrian background.

“Simply, because I come from a country where we have seen a history of prejudice that resulted in terrible atrocities, so I always made it my commitment that I wanted to go around the world to promote tolerance, inclusion and to fight prejudice,” Schwarzenegger said Saturday.

The museum, expected to be completed in 2007, is intended to promote unity and respect among Jews and with people of all faiths.

“The world should know we are not building a bunker. Israel is looking forward past the suicide bombers, the terrorists, past the blood, the violence and the hatred to a time people can live side by side in peace and coexistence,” Schwarzenegger said in the keynote address at the museum groundbreaking ceremony in central Jerusalem on Sunday.

Schwarzenegger ended his speech with the Hebrew saying, “Am Yisrael chai” – the nation of Israel lives – gave the crowd a thumbs up sign, and added his signature movie line, “I’ll be back.”