From the President & Global CEO
“Never Again” - An Unbreakable Promise
(On April 11, Israel Bonds President & CEO Israel Maimon, together with Bonds leaders from Brazil, Panama and Mexico, spoke at a Yom HaShoah ceremony in Belgrade adjacent to the Sajmiste concentration camp to honor the thousands of Serbian Jews who lost their lives in the Holocaust. Following are his remarks.)
On Yom HaShoah, we join as one in expressing shared grief over the greatest tragedy ever to befall the Jewish people.
Every Serbian Jew that was murdered – and there were thousands – had a personal story now lost to history. They were husbands and wives, brothers and sisters, friends and relatives.
In 1941, there were some 16,000 Serbian Jews. Three years later, less than 2,000 remained. A Gestapo official bragged, "Serbien ist Judenfrei” – Serbia is free of Jews – highlighting the destructive goal of the Nazis.
What happened to the survivors? Some undoubtedly went to Israel to live, for the first time, as Jews free of persecution. Others likely immigrated to the United States to begin life anew.
What binds survivors and victims alike is the fact that they experienced the most terrifying, unspeakable event in the annals of human history.
Never before had a specific group been singled out for mass extermination. The simple fact of being Jewish was a death sentence.
Exactly three years and one week after the surrender of Nazi Germany, the Jewish future changed forever, and our destiny shifted from destruction to redemption. That was the electric moment David Ben-Gurion proclaimed the establishment of the reborn State of Israel.
As they built and defended their nation with foresight and resolve, perceptions of the Jewish people changed as well.
Ben-Gurion highlighted this dynamic shift in his typically eloquent way: “Israel has created a new image of the Jew in the world - the image of a working and an intellectual people, of a people that can fight with heroism.”
This last word – “heroism” – has become the defining trait of the Israeli people. A proud Jewish nation and its powerful Israel Defense Forces – land, air and sea – are the ultimate guarantee that these two words - “Never Again” - will resonate not as a phrase, but as an unbreakable promise.
It was my honor to serve as an officer in the Golani Brigade. This afforded me not only the opportunity, but the privilege of playing a personal part in perpetuating that promise.
It is a promise that reached fullest expression in 2003, when Israel Air Force jets made a dramatic pass over Auschwitz.
The lead pilot, himself the son of Holocaust survivors, made this stirring declaration as fighter planes painted with the Magen David flew low over the death camp: “We pilots of the Israel Air Force, flying in the skies over the camp of horrors . . . promise to be the shield of the Jewish people and its nation, Israel.”
Later this month, we will celebrate the independence of this proud nation, a country now seventy years strong. Even with the passing of seven decades, the reality of Israel’s independence continues to inspire us every day.
Israel and the Jewish people overcame what others would deem impossible. The rebirth of the Jewish state following 2,000 years of exile; a nation unfailingly emerging victorious in the face of overwhelming odds; the ingathering of over 3 million exiles from nearly 100 countries; and today’s high-tech wonder – all this, and so much more, constitutes a true miracle.
As we stand together in sorrow, we remain resolute in our determination to continue the miracle. We do this in honor of the six million victims of the Shoah, who never had the chance to live in a world with a proud, dynamic Jewish state.
May their memory always be a blessing.
(View video from the ceremony here)
Investing in One of the World’s Best Economies
By Israel Maimon
President & CEO
On October 23, Maryland became the latest state prohibiting business with companies supporting the Boycott/Divestment/Sanction (BDS) movement. Nearly half of all U.S. states have now passed legislation or signed executive orders with the same objective.
This marks another setback for BDS advocates who have been trying – and failing – to harm Israel economically. Quite the opposite – Israel’s economy is widely recognized as ranking among the best in the world.
An assessment from Standard & Poor’s, issued August 2017, sums it up. In raising its Israel outlook from ‘stable’ to ‘positive,’ S&P stated, “There is a potential for stronger than anticipated general government fiscal performance over the next two years. We expect that Israel’s economic and balance-of-payments dynamics will stay strong while security risks remain contained.”
A month later, Moody’s declared, “Israel’s economic growth has outpaced that of other advanced industrial countries over the past decade, driven by its high-tech export niche and a diversified economic base that now includes its status as an energy exporter.”
Warren Buffett, the world’s most famous investor, is also an enthusiastic advocate for Israel’s economy, as can be seen by the fact that he owns Israeli companies and Israel bonds. As Prime Minister Netanyahu noted, “Warren is one of the most brilliant and successful investors of our time. He knows a good investment when he sees it. That’s why he invests in Israel.”
The facts speak for themselves. Israel’s GDP in 2016 was $318 billion. Its debt-to-GDP ratio – an important indicator of economic wellbeing – decreased to 62.4 percent between 2007 and 2016, making Israel one of only three countries to successfully reduce debt-to-GDP since the onset of the global recession. By comparison, U.S. debt-to-GDP increased by over 47 percent. (Source: Government of Israel Ministry of Finance/Office of the Accountant General - Investor Newsletter/Oct. 2017).
For more than 66 years, the Israel Bonds organization has been a cornerstone of Israel’s rapid economic development. Since the program’s inception in 1951, over $40 billion worth of Israel bonds have been acquired worldwide. This global network of purchasers includes institutional investors entrusted with the highest level of fiduciary responsibility.
Beyond being securities, Israel bonds are a direct, personal means of investing in the vast promise and potential of the world’s only Jewish state. Next April, Israel turns 70, and one way to express pride in seven decades of achievement is through the purchase of Israel bonds.
(Israel bonds are not rated)