Georgia Buys $10 million More Israel Bonds
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Georgia Buys $10 million More Israel Bonds

Gov. Brian Kemp continues practice of his predecessors and directs state to nearly double its investment to fund Israeli infrastructure

Dave Schechter is a veteran journalist whose career includes writing and producing reports from Israel and elsewhere in the Middle East.

Gov. Brian Kemp directed state to increase investment in Israel.
Gov. Brian Kemp directed state to increase investment in Israel.

The state of Georgia recently made a statement about Israel, as Gov. Brian Kemp announced plans to purchase $10 million in Israel Bonds, bringing the state’s current holdings to $25 million. “I am proud to join efforts across the country to support our friend & ally, Israel!” Kemp said in a June 2 Twitter post.

In a statement to the AJT, Kemp said, “Georgia will continue to stand with our friend and ally, Israel. By nearly doubling our investment in Israel bonds to $25 million, we are helping our Israeli allies, strengthening the Georgia economy, and wisely investing taxpayer funds.”

Kemp announced the purchase two weeks after the end of a 10-day war in Israel in which Islamic groups in Gaza fired some 4,300 rockets toward Israel, and the Israeli Air Force countered with air strikes against some 1,500 targets.

“It is a timely and strong statement of support for the state of Israel,” said Brad Young, Southeast region executive director of Israel Bonds.

The money raised by the sale of the bonds “provides Israel with the funds they need for their infrastructure needs, which could include a whole variety of things,” he said.

Georgia is among 26 states currently holding Israel Bonds, Young said. The state first bought Israel Bonds nearly two decades ago under Gov. Sonny Perdue. The purchase of Israel Bonds continued under Gov. Nathan Deal, who authorized the purchase of $15 million in bonds in April 2019, bringing the state’s investment at the time to $35 million. The fixed-rate, five-year bonds purchased in April 2019 have an interest rate of 3.11 percent and a maturation date of April 2024.

During his successful 2018 campaign for governor and in appearances before Jewish audiences, Kemp had promised to continue the state’s buying of Israel bonds.

Chuck Berk is chair of the Israel Bonds National Campaign Advisory Council.

The bonds can be purchased in amounts as small as $36, though some classes of the investment require a larger outlay. According to the Israel Bonds website, as of this month, the interest rates currently available range from 0.55 percent to 0.70 percent on a two-year note, up to 2.83 percent to 2.98 percent on a 15-year note. Interest earned on Israel Bonds is taxable.

Using a baseball analogy, Young likened the purchase of Israel Bonds to hitting a single, rather than swinging for the fences and a home run.

There are investors who value that more conservative play, Young said, calling the bonds a “safe haven, . . . a way to preserve capital.”

Young said Israel Bonds have another appeal. “If you’re Jewish and you care about the state of Israel, it doesn’t matter how big a portion of your portfolio is Israel Bonds, but you must have Israel bonds in your portfolio.”

Brad Young is the Southeast region executive director of Israel Bonds.

Georgia is one of eight states in the Southeast region — along with Louisiana, Mississippi, Arkansas, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Alabama — in which states, individuals and institutions combined hold $45 million in Israel Bonds.

The history of Israel Bonds dates to September 1950, and a meeting in Jerusalem at which Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion sold American Jewish leaders on the idea of selling bonds to help his fledgling country build an economy capable of absorbing hundreds of thousands of new immigrants and recovering from effects of the 1948 War of Independence. The official launch of the Independence Issue of Israel Bonds came eight months later, when Ben-Gurion addressed a rally at Madison Square Garden in New York City.

Since Israel Bonds’ inception, Israel has never failed to repay the principal and interest on the bonds.

Last year, more than $1.5 billion of Israel Bonds were purchased in the United States by individuals and institutions, the ninth consecutive year of domestic sales topping $1 billion.

Chuck Berk is an Atlantan and current chair of the Israel Bonds National Campaign Advisory Council. He said, “It’s the one organization supporting Israel in which I’m helping Israel by asking people to support Israel, not by making a donation, but by investing in Israel, helping Israel by buying bonds which, at maturity, return your investment with interest.

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