James Galfund
James Galfund

He Came to Israel Bonds to Make a Difference; Israel Maimon Made History Instead

Israel Maimon addresses global Israel Bonds leadership at the annual Prime Minister’s Club Dinner in Florida. (Photo: Shahar Azran)
Israel Maimon addresses global Israel Bonds leadership at the annual Prime Minister’s Club Dinner in Florida. (Photo: Shahar Azran)

Israel Maimon’s life has always been about the mission, and the mission has always been Israel. As an officer in the elite Golani Brigade, government secretary for Prime Ministers Ariel Sharon and Ehud Olmert (a position that saw him involved in the strike on Syria’s nuclear reactor), or working closely with the legendary Shimon Peres on the landmark “Facing Tomorrow” conference, Maimon has resolutely focused on the security, well-being and vast potential of the Jewish state.

Now preparing to conclude his latest chapter of service to Israel—this time as president and CEO of Development Corporation for Israel/Israel Bonds—Maimon can look back on an eventful term unlike any in the organization’s 70-year history. It ran the gamut: momentous occasions; unity with Israel in times of conflict; and, above all else, historic achievement in the face of a once-in-a-century pandemic.

Demonstrating leadership skills honed by diverse life experiences, Maimon united Israel’s supporters on a global scale, both in celebration and solidarity, helping to channel their passion into more than $8 billion in worldwide Israel bond sales.

It was just over five years ago when then-Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon asked Maimon to become the next president and CEO of Israel Bonds. Kahlon wanted someone, Maimon recalls, “who was not only a doer, but who could proudly represent Israel. I met with him over the following days and said ‘yes.’”

“My time as government secretary prepared me well for Israel Bonds,” he explains. “The personalities with whom I served—Ariel Sharon, Ehud Olmert, Shimon Peres and Benjamin Netanyahu, who was then finance minister—all expressed great respect for Bonds, and the devoted leadership that helped make so much possible.”

Discovering the Scope of Bonds Advocacy

It didn’t take long for Maimon to discover the impressive scope of Israel Bonds advocacy. Less than a month after starting, he was in Omaha, NE for a Bonds event featuring Warren Buffett, the first of three with the legendary investor during Maimon’s term.

He calls the evening, during which Buffett announced a personal $5 million Israel bond investment, “a memorable start to my role as president and CEO. It was an outstanding occasion for Israel Bonds and the State of Israel.”

Israel Maimon makes a presentation to the Oracle of Omaha, Warren Buffett. (Photo: Shahar Azran)

Each year enhanced Maimon’s appreciation for the way the Bonds mission resonated with individuals from across the spectrum. In 2017, he traveled to Europe, Canada and Latin America, observing in community after community a heartfelt commitment to Israel and Israel Bonds. An emotional highpoint for Maimon came when Bonds leaders from three continents joined him for the 2018 March of the Living in Auschwitz-Birkenau, after which he welcomed them to the State of Israel for the country’s 70th anniversary celebration.

Eager to convey his gratitude, Maimon designated 2019 “The Year of the Lay Leader,” culminating with a conference in Phoenix, AZ. He told participants, “Each of you can take pride in knowing you are part of an endeavor that has continued from generation to generation, transcending oceans and borders.” Prioritizing the need to develop the next generation of Bonds leadership, the conference adjourned with hugs, handshakes, and the anticipation of seeing each other again soon.

Attending the White House signing of the Abraham Accords, Israel Maimon said he “carried with me the hopes, dreams and aspirations of every Israel Bonds supporter.” (Courtesy Israel Maimon)

Those expectations would be shattered by a global pandemic.

A Situational Assessment

When COVID-19 swept across the world, lives, businesses and governments were upended in ways no person or entity on the planet had experienced. For Israel, the consequences included the derailment of a booming economy. Israel Maimon, the former Golani commander, made a situational assessment and reached his decision. “Israel faced a crisis,” he states unequivocally, “and Israel Bonds was going to be part of the solution.”

In discussions with Finance Ministry officials, Maimon proposed an ambitious four-point plan that would increase the organization’s 2020 U.S. sales goal to $1.5 billion—$400 million beyond what had initially been agreed on.

“We knew it would be a Herculean task, but there was no hesitation. We were clear-eyed about the objective and how to achieve it. And,” Maimon says proudly, “just seven months later, we reported to the Finance Ministry that our mission was accomplished.” The final worldwide total was an astounding $1.8 billion, realized despite having to reconstruct the traditional Bonds business model of in-person events and meetings.

It was an extraordinary feat without precedent in the annals of Israel Bonds. Maimon credits the “remarkable teamwork and synergy demonstrated by Bonds leadership and staff at every level. Together, we made history.”

Israel Maimon addresses global Israel Bonds leadership at the annual Prime Minister’s Club Dinner in Florida. (Photo: Shahar Azran)

Perpetuating the Bonds Legacy

Maimon’s final year as president & CEO coincides with the 70th anniversary of Israel Bonds. He is pleased that over the course of his term, he has helped perpetuate the organization’s storied legacy—thanks, Maimon emphasizes, to relationships established with supporters from all walks of life. In addition to international Jewish leadership, they included corporate executives, institutional heads and government officials. He praises Bonds staff the world over, “without whom the accomplishments of the past five years could not have been attained.”

Although embarking on a new path, Maimon’s imprint on Israel Bonds will continue. He takes particular pride in the mentorship program, which grooms new generations of leaders “who will ensure that the Bonds role as a strategic economic asset for Israel proceeds unabated.”

Reflecting on his Israel Bonds journey, Maimon says, “My time at Bonds became part of my heart and soul. It heightened the meaning of my Jewish identity,” and that, Maimon asserts, “reaffirmed my unwavering commitment to secure the future of the world’s only Jewish state.”

About the Author
James Galfund is National Director of Marketing & Communications for Development Corporation for Israel/Israel Bonds.
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