Louis Hemmings
poet, author, quixotic

State of Israel Bonds – what’s not to like?:)

Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion welcomes an Israel Bonds delegation to Jerusalem.
Created: 22 January 2010 Wikipedia

‘The Development Corporation for Israel has raised $1 billion from bond sales in the United States since the Oct. 7 attack by Hamas. Executives at Israel Bonds said about $250 million of the total raised in the last month came from individual investors, large and small, throughout the United States, who purchased the bonds directly.’      – CNBC, Massive surge in the buying of Israel Bonds from the United States Nov 8th, 2023.

That’s good news for Israel and the State of Israel Bonds Development Corporation. And confirmation for small investors like me, who started intuitively investing in Israel fourteen years ago. My investment wasn’t just about the money. It was about the moral support of a tiny nation that miraculously survives in a very hostile geo-political environment. Let me tell you my quixotic backstory to that.

I grew up in a financially-precarious, divorced family.

Schooling was unkindly curtailed by adverse circumstances. Paternal alimony went unpaid due to poor business decisions. I was impelled to drop out of high school and started a series of dead-end jobs. Finally I ended up working in a variety of bookshops: second-hand books; an Anglican repository and lastly, in a mall bookshop. I was getting a much-delayed, albeit autodidact education, dipping into all sorts of books! Wages were certainly not on high end. However we got generous discounts:)

In 1985 I got married and later started a family. In time, I managed to purchase my family’s suburban, semi-detached home, on extended credit. Twenty three years later, when the “Celtic Tiger” came to town, I tenaciously hung onto his tail as the housing prices doubled, tripled and more. The market was heading for an over-heating. I bit the bullet, sold the family house and made good, That was just before the Tiger went off to the taxidermist. The Irish economy was then mauled by the IMF’s intervention.

From the biblical perspective of prophet Joel, I can truly echo Yahweh’s incarnational concern for those that trust in him:

I will repay you double
    what the swarming locust has eaten,
The hopper, the consuming locust, and the cutter,
    my great army I sent against you.

You will eat until you are fully satisfied,
    then you will praise the name of the Lord, your God,
Who acts so wondrously on your behalf!
    My people will never again be put to shame.

-Joel 2: 25 & 26

A binned newspaper took me in an unexpected investment direction!

Now I had spare money and some. What to invest in? I sent my children to English colleges, I disbursed to charities and… I walked “where angels fear to tread” – I invested on Wall Street, with mixed results.

One day in 2009, on my way to the dentist, I lacked reading material for the suburban bus journey to Dublin. In a shopping centre waste bin I spotted a newspaper sticking out. Never one to pass up on free offers, I carefully extracted it! It was clean. So, I took it to read on the bus. When seated on the upstairs deck, I opened the business section. It took me in an unusual and unexpected direction.

In it, there was a feature about Israel, under the banner “Start-up Nation.” Reading that article was a light-bulb moment for me. It reminded me of the genius of Jewish minds, when it comes to coding, inventing and entrepreneurship. I read both the Financial Times and Motley Fool and other online investment newsletters but never came across articles about investing in Israel.

How many inventions are dreamed up by Yahweh-blessed Jewish minds?

  1. Israel is a renowned global leader in technological innovation in fields such as smart mobility, digital health, fintech, and cyber-security. In addition, Israel is a global leader in water and irrigation solutions and precision agriculture, becoming one of the few countries in the world to reverse desertification and develop sustainable agriculture in an arid climate.
  2. Israel is home to a vibrant and flourishing HealthTech sector, having 1600 innovative companies, technology hubs, and R&D centers of multinational corporations, too many to mention!

Why hadn’t I ever thought about investing in Israel!?

Not many Israeli companies are listed on the New York or London Stock Exchanges.  I naively considered investing in a bridge fund involved with Israeli software companies. When I rang the fund office, I was kindly informed that I would need at least 250,000 Euros (over $300,000) in order to invest. That entry figure was far beyond my means.

The person who patiently answered my naive queries, suggested something else. Perhaps the Israeli Embassy might have some investment solutions? I ended up investing in State of Israel Bonds (SOIB). Later, when hundreds, if not thousands, of Gaza guerrilla rockets were launched at Israel in 2012, I decided to double my initial investment. I am a quixotic, scrappy contrarian, particularly when it comes to the lesser-esteemed.

The Good, the Bad and The Guardian.

Media savvy readers will be aware of the mostly narrow-minded, left-wing disinformation and political conspiracy theories about Israel. These have their jingoist journalism negative nadir in The Guardian. ironically, that Berliner-sized broadsheet UK newspaper claims in its values mission statement are:

“…honesty, integrity, courage, fairness, and a sense of duty to the reader and the community. We are curious and innovative, prepared to fail and willing to learn. We embrace diversity, champion inclusivity and treat everyone with respect…”

I think not! Reader, try a google of their articles and type Israel into their search bar? In recent decades The Guardian has experienced severe “mission drift” – far from their founder’s original intentions.

“Dad, I have just invested in State of Israel Bonds!”

My on again / off again relationship with my supposed-liberal father was a challenge to us both. He kept sending me clippings of anti-Israel articles published in the Guardian. I was getting fed up of his repetitious, prejudiced, and Middle Eastern political misinformation. In time though, I found a provocative way of silencing his negative narrative on Israel. In a letter one day, I responded to his anti-semitic article clippings in this way:

“Dad, thanks for sending me yet another anti-Israel article. I have just invested in State of Israel Bonds!”

I don’t recall ever getting another unkind news-cutting about Israel from him again…

My question to Times of Israel editors and readers is this. Why has there been such little coverage of such an important investment opportunity, as Israel Bonds? Let’s have more stories like mine. There’s got to be some!

My Parting Shot!

In May 14th, 1948 David Ben-Gurion first proclaimed Israel’s independence beneath a large portrait of Theodor Herzl. Surely, both those iconic, visionary Israelis would approve of unabashed promotion of State of Israel Bonds. Israel, don’t be shy! Let’s have “product placement” Israel Bonds pamphlets at worldwide embassy-sponsored celebrations on Israel Independence Day in years to come.

About the Author
Louis Hemmings has been writing prose and poetry since 1972. Some of his work has been published in Poetry Ireland, The Irish Catholic, Forward (USA) and Books Ireland. He is a late-life journalism student in Dublin, Ireland. He is married 38 years, has two boys, buried a stillborn and holds an ecumenical Christian point-of-view.
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