Advocating for Israel’s Economy

Let’s say it at the outset – I’m a strong advocate for Israel’s economy. That is why, upon becoming Israel Bonds president & CEO in October 2011, my first priority was to change the corporate narrative.

The new Israel Bonds narrative asked current and prospective clients to view Israel from a completely new perspective – not as a beleaguered nation beset by geopolitical challenge, but as a strong, confident Jewish state setting a global standard for economic success.

It has been an easy sell, because the statistics are indisputable. For example, in 1948 – the year of independence – Israel’s GDP was $6.6 billion, as measured in current dollars. Today, it stands at nearly $300 billion.

Furthermore, Israel’s economy has been on a remarkable run. Since 2003, Israel has realized 13 consecutive years of sustained economic growth.

This is reflected in its debt-to-GDP ratio, a key indicator of any nation’s economic well-being. In 2015, Israel’s debt-to-GDP decreased for a sixth consecutive year, to 64.1 percent. That success, matched only by one other country, has earned Israel widespread praise from ratings agencies and financial analysts.

There is also a uniquely Israeli dimension to the country’s economic achievements, and that is the human factor. We like to say Israel Bonds is a brokerage firm with a Jewish heart, which is why we also promote Israel’s economic success from the standpoint of the Jewish state’s foremost mission – the ingathering of exiles.

We highlight the irrefutable fact that the historic aliyah of Soviet Jewry, which advanced Israel’s science and knowledge-based economy, led to a world-class technology sector.

Israeli innovation in turn spurred a dramatic rise in exports, with all the concurrent benefits for the economy. There is no question that Israel’s economy would be in a far different place had it not been for these immigrants.

The response to this emphasis on Israel’s economy has been outstanding. In each of the past three years, annual U.S. sales exceeded $1 billion. Previously, annual domestic sales averaged $600 million or less.

As we enter the fourth quarter of 2016, sales to date have put the Bonds organization firmly on course for another billion dollar year. Since the onset of 2012, total U.S. Israel bond sales have surpassed $5 billion.

It is true that economic momentum cannot be sustained indefinitely. Israel faces ongoing challenges, particularly the fact that its export-driven economy will always remain susceptible to fluctuations in the global marketplace.

Still, as we have seen, Israel is quick to adapt to economic realities. When U.S. and European markets began to falter, Israel successfully established a strong presence in Asia, particularly in China and India. Israel’s recent outreach to Africa is also in keeping with its strategy of establishing new markets.

Moreover, Bank of Israel 2016 Q2 data includes such promising statistics as a growth rate of 3.7 percent, decreased unemployment and GDP per capita of nearly $35,000. This inspires confidence that Israel’s impressive economic run will continue.

All the above points, which are not often highlighted, explain why I firmly believe building a strong economy has been Israel’s most overlooked achievement.

To heighten awareness, Israel Bonds has disseminated this outstanding success story at every opportunity. We are gratified it has resonated with growing numbers of individuals eager to become stakeholders in Israel’s resilient economy.

About the Author
Israel "Izzy" Tapoohi is the President and Chief Executive Officer of Birthright Israel Foundation, the non-profit organization that raises funds in the US to support Birthright Israel trips. Tapoohi joined Birthright Israel Foundation after serving as President and CEO of Development Corporation for Israel Bonds from October 2011 - October 2016. Prior to Israel Bonds, Tapoohi held director positions on the boards of leading Israeli and international companies, including Bezeq, Israel’s largest telecommunications provider, and Africa-Israel Investments Ltd., an international holdings and investments group. He has been appointed to top-level advisory positions, including with the first and second Netanyahu governments, and has been involved with real estate and venture capital investments.
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