After 60 years and more than $32 billion in sales, State of Israel Bonds is rebranding itself to give it a new profile and relevancy in the midst of a worldwide economic slowdown.
As part of its makeover, the organization has unveiled a new logo and begun selling bonds online, something it has been striving to do for several years. The difficulty was that State of Israel Bonds is only the middleman — it does not hold securities nor does it handle money and all online transactions must comply with federal laws.
New York has no business investing in Israel until it complies with UN resolutions regarding the Palestinians, says a long-shot contender for state comptroller.
The Green Party’s Howie Hawkins says one of his first acts in office would be to divest from bonds he says were purchased by Comptroller H. Carl McCall out of a “political need to support the Israeli occupation.”
Although by many measures the Israeli economy is humming along, it is still saddled with about $100 billion in long-term debt. This week, the government sought to take a bite out of it, The Jewish Week has learned.
It has mailed letters to 144,000 owners of Israel Bonds offering to redeem specific bonds early. It has also suspended the sale of bonds that mature in more than five years and sharply limited the sale of bonds that defer interest until maturity.
Get ready baseball card collectors, Israel Bonds is coming out with its own collectible collection — and it’s guaranteed to make money. Israel Bonds is reaching out to those who give bar and bat mitzvah gifts of $125 or $150 in checks and suggesting they instead buy its new $136 Chai Bonds. They mature in five years at a value of $180.
Sparked by fund-raising events nationwide, the State of Israel Bonds drive to attract individual buyers rather than institutional investors is paying dividends. Last year, 95,000 Jews purchased a total of $600 million in bonds, compared with about 55,000 in 1997. Banks, meanwhile, bought only $31 million last year — 3.4 percent of the $920 million sold — after purchasing $300 million two years earlier. Pension funds and city and state governments bought the rest last year.
For the first time, New York State has bought State of Israel Bonds directly from the Israeli government. The state recently purchased $5 million in Bonds from the Development Corporation for Israel.
State Comptroller H. Carl McCall said the action was prompted in part by his trip to Israel in April for a celebration of the nation’s 50th anniversary.
“Seeing what was happening with the economy and what they were doing with the money was reassuring,” said McCall.
(JTA): The issue of divestment from Israel is resurfacing in a Boston suburb. Voters in the 27th Middlesex District, representing half of the precincts of Somerville, Mass., will decide Nov. 7 on a non-binding resolution instructing the district's state representative to support legislation calling for the state to divest from Israel Bonds or companies supplying military equipment to Israel.
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