Atlanta Israel Bonds hosted the President’s Club event at the home of Charlotte and Joel Marks Dec. 10. Double healiners were Israel Maimon, Israel Bonds president and CEO, who came in from New York City, and Maj. Gen. (Ret.) Moshe Kaplinsky, keynote speaker.
Charlotte Marks welcomed the group of top-level givers by detailing her use of Bonds for birthday and special occasion gifts in addition to standard larger ones. Brad Young, executive director of the Southeast region, touted back-to-back years of record Bond sales, bringing Atlanta totals to 10 percent of national sales.
Stu Garawitz, national vice president of sales, said, “Over the past 69 years, Bonds have raised $44 billion as Israel’s insurance policy. Israel is one of the two countries that have a record of paying interest and principle on time, and thus been upgraded by S & P. And the U.S. is not the other country.” He went on to explain that Bonds are a strong defense against the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, saying, “divestment versus investment. We are sending a message that we have Israel’s back consistently, all the time.”
Atlanta Advisory Council Chairman Ed Goldberg described his childhood journey starting with $18 bonds. “We have to commit to ensuring young leadership and women’s voices.” He laid out his clever formula of laddering bond purchases, buying at least one each year in five- to 10-year terms, so one would mature every year. “This provides a higher long-term rate and liquidity,” he explained.
Chuck Berk was praised as the new unanimously elected Israel Bonds national campaign chair beginning next year. He introduced Maimon with his impressive background in government, the private sector, and the Israel Defense Forces. He played a central role in the 2007 bombing of Syria’s nuclear reactor and had a seven-year partnership with Shimon Peres, Israel’s former president.
Maimon recognized Berk for facilitating a meeting earlier in the day with the Georgia state treasurer, where an additional $10 million Bond commitment was proposed. He continued, “It was an intense meeting where the Georgia general accountant expressed pleasure with their Bonds investment over the years.”
Later, Maimon spoke of the challenge of connecting the younger generation to their Jewish identity and Israel. “There are 50,000 new bondholders every year, held 60 percent by individuals and 40 percent by institutions.”
Joe Rubin, Atlanta Israel Bonds executive committee member, introduced Kaplinsky. He said Atlanta felt like home since he was wounded in Lebanon and subsequently sent to nearby Fort Benning. “My oldest son speaks with a Southern accent, and my other son was married in Georgia.” Kaplinsky is the CEO of a major Israeli infrastructure cement company but is best known for heading the Central Command of the IDF during the Lebanon War.
He emphasized that “Israel still has to fight every day for the right to exist.” The most important element is security, even as world views change, he said. “The main enemy is still Iran. Make no mistake, Israel will not allow a nuclear Iran – for the sake of Israel AND the rest of the world. Even without nuclear weapons, Iran poses a threat with its fingerprint in Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Lebanon … seen just two weeks ago in a campaign in Gaza where Israel had no casualties, but it was still unpleasant living with missiles firing.”
He elucidated the new kinds of warfare: the campaign to reduce the [enemy’s] flame or not allow the flame. “Cyber and media are huge ‘weapons.’ The example given was Israeli intelligence discovering a tunnel from Iraq to Syria smuggling weapons. Thus, we don’t need a missile, they can’t use the tunnel.”
The bottom line, he continued, is that “Israel makes lemonade from lemons. We’re a miracle country with technology and medical advances. Security concerns are not draining the quality of civilian life.”
He responded to questions from the audience:
Europe’s bonding with Iran: “Nothing new. What do you expect from them? We have to rely on ourselves and our only ally, the U.S.”
Are sanctions working? “Yes, it has them [Iran] in a dilemma.”
Trusting China: Two new ports are being constructed with Chinese investors. “I’m not concerned about Chinese involvement. The risk is manageable. Former PM [Yitzhak] Rabin said, “I’d like to sell one Bamba (Israeli snack) to each Chinese citizen.”