U.S. states, localities continue to ramp up investment in Israel bonds

Bonds

States and municipalities across the United States are continuing to invest in Israel bonds as the war between the state of Israel and Hamas spills over into its seventh month.

Since war broke out after the U.S-designated terrorist organization Hamas attacked Israel on Oct. 7, over $1.639 billion of Israel bonds have been sold to more than 35 U.S. states, counties, cities and municipalities, Israel Bonds said Monday.

“We’re proud to continue to invest in bonds. It’s a prudent investment,” said Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar.

Bloomberg News

Investments have come from states including Florida, New York, Alabama, Arizona, Ohio, Illinois, Texas, Oklahoma, Georgia, Nevada, Louisiana, South Carolina, Pennsylvania and Indiana as well as Broward, Palm Beach and Miami-Dade counties, the cities of Miami Beach and Boca Raton and Franklin County, Oho.

Additional investments have been made by both KeyBank and Cross River.

Palm Beach County Clerk and Comptroller Joseph Abruzzo has invested $700 million of the county’s portfolio in Israel bonds, Stewart Garawitz, vice president of national sales for Israel Bonds, said Friday during a virtual meeting of the group’s Government, Industry and Financial Services Council.

“The investment in Israel bonds has been very consistent with our fiduciary responsibility to maximize returns for the benefit of our members,” New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli said.

“Since Oct. 7, we have … invested well over $100 million and we welcome that opportunity,” said DiNapoli, who is trustee for the New York State pension funds.

He added, the New York retirement fund not only held Israel bonds as investments, but also has stock holdings of Israeli companies.

Israeli authorities have said the assault by about 1,500 Hamas fighters killed roughly 1,200 people on Oct. 7. Hamas claims 30,035 Palestinians have been killed while Israel estimates around 10,000 Hamas fighters have been killed.

Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar said the state of Texas continues to stand with the state of Israel.

“We’re proud to continue to invest in Israel bonds,” he said. “It’s a prudent investment. It’s the right thing to do at this point in history. It’s something we all need to stand united with.”

He said Texas has held Israel bonds since 1994.

“[The bonds have] a strong record, a strong backing that we have confidence in, so we have a fiduciary duty like everybody else so that the investments that we make here at my office — whether it’s in our investments or our endowments — we have almost $30 billion that we are entrusted with by the citizens of the state of Texas to make prudent, fiduciary-responsible investments,” said Hegar, who will be a keynote speaker at The Bond Buyer’s Texas Public Finance Conference in Austin next week.

Robert Sprague, Treasurer of Ohio and chairman of the council, said his state was no stranger to investing in the Jewish state and noted the effort was not political.

“This is a bipartisan effort. I’m a Republican, but we’ve got a great Treasurer in Franklin County’s Cheryl Brooks Sullivan and she’s a Democrat,” he said. “We’ve been investing in Israel bonds for the last 30 years and no one is going to intimidate us and make us stop those investments as long as we feel that they are good investments for our portfolio.”

He was referring to some pro-Palestinian protests in Pennsylvania, which were held at the state capital after Treasurer Stacy Garrity made new investments in Israel bonds last year.

Garrity had said Pennsylvania would always stand with Israel.

“If Hamas stopped fighting today, there would be no more war. If Israel stops fighting, there will be no more Israel,” she said last year.

“Challenging times are when Israel Bonds shines the brightest,” said Yali Rothenberg, Israel’s Accountant General. “In the weeks after Oct. 7, Dani Naveh and Israel Bonds reported a billion dollars of bonds were purchased, led by U.S. states and municipalities.”

He praised the support for the Jewish state in its time of need.  

“These funds played an important role in helping the government in the direct aftermath of Oct. 7 and beyond,” Rothenberg said, “and more importantly, it sent a message that you had our back at a tough time.”

Sprague, Abruzzo and Garrity along with Illinois Treasurer Michael Frerichs and Oklahoma Treasurer Todd Russ joined the council when it was formed in December.

Last month, the Florida Treasury invested an additional $50 million in Israel bonds, said Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis, bringing the state’s total investment to $250 million.

This is the largest amount of Israel bond ever held at one time by the state.

Right after the Oct. 7 attacks, the state Treasury bought $120 million in Israel bonds, adding to the $80 million it already held.

“Florida shares a unique bond with Israel, which serves as both our strongest ally and greatest advocate for peace in the Middle East,” Patronis said. “Israel bonds have proven to be of great value to our state’s investment portfolio, offering consistent and positive returns for Floridians.”

He encouraged all state treasurers across the country to invest in Israel bonds.

“Florida continues to stand with Israel and as long as I’m in Tallahassee, I will continue to stand for Israel and fight against hate and intolerance when it rears its ugly head,” he said.

In December, Patronis was given the Israel Bonds Leadership Award for the state’s financial support of the Jewish community and the state of Israel.

Dr. Andrew Hutter was recently named national chairman of the board at Israel Bonds.

Israel Bonds

“Investing in Israel is not only the right thing to do, but it has proven as an extremely sound investment throughout the years, and I have no doubt it will continue to do so,” said Israel Bonds Executive Director Mark Ruben.

“We’re grateful that Florida recognizes this, especially since it serves as a home to so many Jews and Israeli citizens around the world,” he said. “In purchasing these bonds, Florida has taken a stand against hate, anti-Semitism and has demonstrated it is a true friend of the Jewish people.”

In 2023, Israel bonds saw $2.3 billion of investments worldwide. In the 72 years since its founding, the Development Corporation for Israel and its affiliates have seen more than $51 billion in worldwide investment.

From April 1 to April 14, Israel Bonds 12th Series Jubilees ($25,000 increments) 10-years are yielding 5.43% and 5.68% for the 15-years while the 12th Series of Maccabees ($5,000 increments) 10-years are yielding 5.28% and 5.53% for the 15-years.

Last month, Israel Bonds elected Dr. Andrew Hutter national chairman of the board. He took over from Miami’s Howard Goldstein, who worked at Israel Bonds for 40 years.

For more than 20 years, Hutter has worked on various committees and has been on Israel Bonds’ national board of directors for 15 years.

“Especially at a time like the present, anything positive we can communicate about Israel, and any step we can take to create connections to Israel, is essential,” Hutter said. “These ways in which we stand for Israel are equally as important as the financial support that Israel Bonds secures for the building and development of Israel’s economy.”

The organization’s medical division has expanded under Hutter, an orthopedic surgeon, offering opportunities for medical professionals to come together to network, share ideas and hear from a variety of speakers.

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